When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

My best simply isn’t good enough anymore.

No, no. It really isn’t. I’m not fishing for compliments, or advice, or sympathy. I’m just stating the facts, ma’am.

I say the following phrase with increasing frequency: “I’m doing the best I can!” This is usually in response to questions like:

“Why are there no clean towels?”

“Why do I have to borrow Dad’s socks again?”

“What am I supposed to eat? There’s no food in the house!”

And then there are the questions I ask myself:

“Why haven’t you had quiet time today?”

“Why does everything seem so grungy and chaotic?”

“Why am I so snappy with my family when I have so darn much?”

“Why are we eating chicken apple sausage and noodles AGAIN?”

Lately I’ve felt a big, ugly thing inside of me. I don’t have to be a psych major to know what it is: It’s discontent because nothing is how I want it to be.

Common refrains:

“Honey, PLEASE take the kids out today so I can get something done.”

“Honey, PLEASE take Rachel to the Splash Park so I can have a bit of silence and maybe get a shower.”

“Honey, PLEASE help Collin so I can type up this declaration.”

So, even though I’m “doing the best I can,” that “best” seldom seems to include “doing it all,” or hanging out with my kids, who I very much wanted and am so glad to have.

Trust me: this has nothing to do with having a smaller to-do list. I am not trying to scrapbook and reorganize closets and Shop Vac the garage. This is Survival 101. Such as having NO TOWELS, not even dish towels, the other day, so we all had to drip dry after showering. Such as having canned soup and a green lemon from our lemon tree as the only foods in the house. Such as my husband borrowing my underwear because all of his are in the wash (I made that last one up, but not by much). Such as having to store my “active” files on the kitchen counter, right by the CDs of singing vegetables and the “Home Menus and Shopping Lists” binder I haven’t touched in eight months, so I can glance over them while boiling noodles.

Read the rest of today’s post here.

In These Middle Years

The bright and shiny of all the things we wanted – the kids, the dog, the house, the minivan – are dulled by fatigue. By being up for three hours by 8am and and still having read only one email, one verse. By sharing 2.5 cups of coffee with a spoon-wielding princess. By being an introvert who is accompanied by two littles in the bathroom, while a big-little knocks on the door.

We have comforts. We bought a new mattress to make us less tired. It’s fancy, and big, and came with a remote that we share. It lights the room blue at 2am when we wake, hearts pounding, thinking surely we’re supposed to be doing something, anything, other than resting tired bones. Even with a downstairs Nana, a few-blocks-away Gamma, our exhaustion defeats us.

Yesterday I met a woman with one little, another on the way. She has comforts, too. I can tell this by where her house is, where she works, what she wears. I can tell, too, that her comforts don’t make her bright things shiny. She has no Nana downstairs, no Gamma three blocks away. Just a new home, a new town, a long-distance family, and a few short months to go before she’s a mother of two. I want to sit with her, write a list of her needs. Share them with my too-tired mama friends and envelope her with love. But I know that if I were her, and I have been, I would say no. Would go it alone, overwhemed and longing. Determined to make do.

“Mom,” I say, “I am just so tired.”

I know.”

She tells me about her thirties, how every bone ached with exhaustion. How she hallucinated after three days without sleep when my sister was in the hospital. “I remember,” she says, “when we would go to the farm to visit grandpa and I was so tired. I thought I’d never feel rested again.” Even decades after the fact, I can hear the fatigue in her voice.

She had comforts, too, but still her bright things dulled in those middle years, when all we have are edges, stretched thin and yawning into nothing. Dangling our feet over empty, hanging heavy and threatening to burst.

And in this chasm, I read, in a moment almost ignored:

He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
He wraps up water in his clouds.
They are heavy, but they don’t burst.
He covers the face of the full moon.
He spreads his clouds over it.
[ ]
Those are only on the edges of what he does.
They are only the soft whispers that we hear from him.
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?
(Job 26:7-9, 14)

Today, when I–

play 7am Frisbee with a princess and a troll;

rock and walk a 21-pound baby for over an hour;

am a fairy godmother in 2-inch heels and ankle socks;

cook things from a box in the oven and pretend they are real;

celebrate new life almost here,

I will dance on the edges, lean in for the whispers, find comfort in the thunder.

Pray other mamas whose feet dangle, alone, do the same.

Realizing What Matters

In my family, politics runs the gamut from Tea Party to Green Party, from Fox News to Al-Jazeera. My family is the melting pot of voter registration. And I’m not talking about see-them-at-weddings-and-funerals family, but close family who are deeply loved as well as deeply intelligent and opinionated.

This could be tough. It could cause awkward silences, silent fuming, exasperated incomprehension, and ruined holidays. Thankfully that hasn’t been the case. We instead understand that our love for one another has absolutely nothing to do with where we fall on the political spectrum. That we are all worthy of respect, even when disagreements arise, and that some things are simply better left unsaid rather than fought over.

Over the last year or so, I have come to view my political leanings and affiliations in a very different light than I did, say, ten years ago. For the record, I have a lengthy history of marching on various capitols for various causes, both “conservative” and “liberal.” I previously co-hosted a political talk show, and loved the back-and-forth with my co-hosts, callers, and guests. I have been an elected official, and I have worked at the White House. I have made and carried protest signs, signed petitions, and been part of many, many political advocacy groups. I have cried and worn a baseball cap and sweats for days when “my” candidate has lost.

I have found, however, that I am no longer interested in this mold of politics. I am instead much more interested in recognizing the motivation behind various so-called political beliefs, and how individuals can work within the structure of their daily lives to be a living, breathing example of those motivations.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for the types of things I mentioned above. Of course there is. But as I begin to recognize and name the emotions behind my beliefs, and as I begin to better understand where other people are coming from, even on issues where I completely disagree with them and they with me, I see very little need for political wrangling in day-to-day life.

I can count my motivations on one hand: love, justice, mercy, faith, and the belief that we are all God’s children worthy of dignity, respect, and equal treatment. If someone else feels all those things but disagrees with a foundation in faith, that person and I should not move forward from that difference in a way fraught with vitriol. That fictitious person and I should instead move forward by emphasizing the places where we agree, and by acknowledging where our end goals are the same. If another fictitious person should choose to leave out the words “equal treatment,” I have no business hating or condemning them, because after all, isn’t that what my motivations specifically rally against? I can disagree with them, of course. I cannot, however, direct judgment towards them.

We must all work towards the good we believe in. The best way to do that is through living out the impetus for having those beliefs. We live in a world where people do have ill intent. Where selfishness reigns supreme, and self-interest is too often the reason for decisions made. If we have in our lives people who are instead motivated by good, whether we agree with them or not, we are lucky indeed.

For further reading:

A Politics of Love, Part One

Defining a Politics of Love

The Separation of Church and Hate

Why I’m No Longer Mad at Monsanto

Doing the Unstuck

Today I took down the streamers.

The balloons have become my daughter’s weapons of war.

The flights from California to Florida, we’re finding, cost more than we feared.

For at least a year after my son quit playing baseball, I cried, just a little, every time I drove by the ball field. I never wanted to stop hating the grass stains.

For four years, I’ve waited for high school to end. To be rid of open campus lunches and rules that don’t work for kids mature beyond their years who are too smart for their own good.

And now, it’s done.

Hallelujah?

Yes, of course. But there is also a grief I never expected to feel in leaving behind an institution that has brought 6am wake-up calls, 6pm-like-clockwork auto-dialers, and more missed back-to-school nights than I care to admit. Grief in unrealized things and the messiness of life and that odd, ridiculously unnerving feeling that comes when you realize there are no do-overs.

When a part of your life for so long is simply… gone.

A few things remain. We still need to pick up the diploma. Still need the final grade to come in.

Because my son skipped a grade, because he is leaving home for college just three weeks after he turns 17, I feel unnerved. That feeling of knowing you’ve forgotten something but not remembering what. It’s a vague unease, an incompleteness.

I suspect it will soon pass. Soon we will be mired in packing and planning and cross-country trips and U-Hauls. Soon I will be crying and rejoicing for the future, not the past.

For now, I will try my best to learn from yet another unexpected mom-moment, take hope in the power of prayer, the technology of Skype, and a calling plan that includes unlimited texting. Rejoice that my youngest two have more than a decade to go before we head down this messy, surprising, absurdly difficult path all over again.

Week Links #6

There was so much good stuff to read this week, and unfortunately so little time. There was also much to write about, such as the SBC resolution regarding mental illness. Hopefully next week. But for now…. a few things I did get a chance to read, and would recommend to others.

Women’s Words

Sarah Bessey: In Which God Has Asked Too Much of Us

and again, because why not? Sarah Bessey: In Which I Preach

Social Justice

Melissa Barnhart for the Christian Post: Suicide, Mental Health at Forefront of SBC Annual Meeting

Karen Beattie: Seven Things I’ve Learned About Foster Care

Words for Thought

Mark Sandlin: Ten Things You Can’t Do While Following Jesus

Larry Alex Taunton: Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

Jesse Carey: Christians, Their Media Portrayal & Myth

Rachel Held Evans: Love Opens the Door: A Plea to American Churches Regarding Gay Scouts

My Stuff

And because today is graduation day: The Child I’ve Grown Up With

Guest Post: Politics of Love

This has been a crazy week for me. My oldest graduates from high school tomorrow, and I am a mess of logistics and tears. Writing has not been possible, other than grocery- and to-do lists. Turns out, though, that today I would rather share words someone else has written. Words that I find so true, and that, to me, are in accord with the red letters.

This post is from Andrew Hanauer (yes, my husband, but also a freelance writer and human rights ninja). You can find his blog here.

A POLITICS OF LOVE

In 2006, when Americans were asked their opinion of George W. Bush’s massively illegal NSA spying program, 75% of Republicans said they supported it while only 37% of Democrats agreed.  Today, after it was revealed that President Obama is overseeing a nominally legal but largely similar surveillance program, only 52% of Republicans express support for it, while a stunning 64% of Democrats agree.

In other words, Americans, in large numbers, care more about the (D) or (R) next to the President’s name than they do about what the President does.  And that is deeply disturbing.

There is plenty of blame for this to go around.  The right-wing echo chamber that defended President Bush with a vigor matched only by its hatred for President Obama.  The wing of the Democratic Party that is convinced that Barack Obama is special and different and that his words have meaning even as he breaks promise after promise.  The media that focuses incessantly on the partisan sniping in Washington and ignores the larger truth – that the two parties largely both support a system of corporate and military power at the expense of the vast majority of the world’s people – and thus propagates this system in which Americans yell and scream at each other over which corporate-owned party should be in power.

The great tragedy of the Obama administration (for those of us lucky enough to use that word in the sense that I mean it, and not in the context of our children being shot by drones) is that it has not only furthered and deepened some of the most disturbing policies of the Bush administration, but that it has also deadened opposition to those policies by connecting them to the smiling face of a supposedly progressive leader.  And now we not only are stuck with these dangerous policies, with a President who believes he has the right to kill an American citizen without trial, but we are left with meaningful opposition only from the libertarian Right and apparently the 36% of Democrats who don’t think Barack Obama is a deity.

This is the danger of the Church of The-Lesser-Of-Two-Evils.  This is what happens when we stop trying to create the world we want our children to live in and settle for hoping that the leader who seems less willing to destroy that future will beat the other guy.  For years, we have been told we have to vote Democrat, give our money to Democrats, knock on doors for Democrats, argue with our relatives about how great the Democrats are, all because the alternative is so much worse.  The realization that what we are experiencing now is a slow death – through climate change, Wall-Street bailouts, and the erosion of the rule of law – rather than the dreaded quick death of Republican rule is what has prompted me to leave the Democratic Party.

It’s a relief, honestly.  I feel a little bit freer for the lack of attachment to an institution that is not worthy of the hopes and dreams I have for our country.

Inevitably the question then becomes: but what if your vote is the difference?   Yes, I will vote for the lesser of two evils if I have to.

But this is about so much more than voting.  Voting is a civic duty, but it should be merely a small piece of the work we do to improve our community, our country, and the world.  Our contribution to the struggle for human rights and social justice is not defined by who we vote for.  Throughout history, change has almost always come through the hard work of building credible movements and institutions, of pushing from the outside until those on the inside are forced to make changes, of envisioning change and then demanding that it come about, rather than hoping it is given to you by the lesser of two evils.

Inevitably the question then becomes: what do we attach ourselves to instead?

Good question.

Given everything that is going on in the world, it’s easy to just stand outside and yell in anger.  There is a lot to be angry about.

I think, however, that for that anger to make any sense, it has to be traced back to the love that exists at its roots.  We are angry at the perpetrators of the financial meltdown because we love the families who were illegally foreclosed upon.  We are angry about the drone program because we love the innocent people victimized by it and we love the concept of a foreign policy that is predicated on peace and not militarism.  We are angry about wiretapping because we love the concept of a country in which civil liberties are protected and government is open and accountable.  Without this love, the anger leaves us as participants in a pointless competition, in which each “side” tries to “win” and is angered at the other side’s actions.  The pointlessness of that game as it plays out in the United States is made clear by the realization that, much like Oceania and its opponents in Orwell’s 1984, the two “sides” are really two halves of the same system.  And it is that system that needs to change.

Which brings us to what I call “A Politics of Love.”  If we are going to change that system, we have to remove ourselves entirely from the Democrat/Republican debate and start with a positive vision for the country and for the world.  We have to invite everybody to contribute to that vision, even if we don’t agree with them on every issue, and we need to push our politicians to make laws that help make that vision a reality.   This concept is not about singing Kumbaya and pretending that the corporations and politicians who profit from the corruption of the current system can be engaged in meaningful dialogue.  On the contrary, the change we need in this country will come only through the force of our will, through determination, through a clear-eyed understanding of what we are up against.  It will come through a lot of hard work.  But it will only come through love.  And if we are to transform the world through love, we first have to stop identifying ourselves by party and start identifying ourselves as members of a universal human family, particularly when the party with which we have been identifying is so demonstrably unworthy of our allegiance.

When Howard Dean said that “rednecks driving pickup trucks with confederate flags on the back should vote for me because their kids need health insurance, too,” he simultaneously intentionally and unintentionally illustrated how important this concept of politics is.  Yes, we need to start a movement that recognizes shared values and human rights, that reaches across racial, ideological, and geographic divides and challenges the status quo.  And no, obviously, calling people “rednecks” is not the best way to do that.  But what Dean was getting at is that the forces that create inequity in our health care system are not the same as the people voting for politicians who uphold and deepen that inequity.  That’s an important concept, and, perhaps just as importantly, given the policy record of Democrats, those so-called rednecks aren’t the only ones voting for politicians who wreak havoc on the poor and vulnerable.

In the coming days, I will be writing more about what a Politics of Love looks like.  In the meantime, I am doing my part by removing myself from the false partisan dichotomy that leads a country to change its mind about the violation of its civil liberties simply because the President authorizing the violation has a different letter next to his name.

That (D) is no longer magical to me.  It is, after all, of little comfort to the victims of American militarism, or to the Palestinians, or to the Congolese.  It is of little consequence to ice caps determined to melt.  It is not a holy symbol, not a badge of anything of particular value.

It is just another tool of division at a time when the 99.99999% of the world’s people opposed to the status quo need unity more than ever.

Week Links #5

Women’s Words

Rebecca Yarros: Dear Boys: We Protect Those Who are Smaller

Jen Hatmaker: Worst End of School Year Mom Ever

Glennon (Video): All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in the Mental Hospital

Megan Gahan: ReclaimingFemininity

Jen Hatmaker @ Deeper Story: Do Not Stumble on Account of Me

Words for Thought

Jen Hatmaker: Adoption Ethics Part 3

Jennifer Grant’s guest post @ Amy Simpson: See You When I See You

Betty Ann Boeving: A California Climber Takes Up the Trafficking Flight

Why I Love Social Media and Think It’s a Really Good Thing (Usually)

I used to be a fairly hardcore computer geek. And while I’m no longer immersed in the computer-geek subculture, I’m still a good person to call if something goes wrong with your computer.

Now instead of immersion in geek stuff, I do the social media/blog stuff. I currently have six Facebook pages (speaking of which, won’t you please “like” my Facebook page? It would mean a lot to me!); four websites that I own and operate on a regular basis; one website that I work on with some other women; no fewer than 10 email accounts, most of which I actually use; two Twitter pages that I use sparingly; and one Pinterest account that I use to keep track of remodeling ideas. I don’t have an Instagram account because I don’t have an iPhone. There are other social media venues I don’t use, but you know, I am almost 35 and have three kids as well as paying work on occasion, and there’s only so much I can do.

I absolutely love this stuff, and, thankfully, the only time it distracts me from family, clients, or chores is first thing in the morning while I drink coffee (and that has more to do with the coffee), and maybe twice per week if there’s something new/exciting/difficult I’m working on. I’m really lucky that I type fast, do my thinking in the rocking chair, and don’t have an addictive personality. I realize, however, that many people *do* have addictive personalities, and that’s why the title of this post parenthetically includes the word “usually.”

Why do I love these things? I love writing blogs because I’m a writer and it’s fun. I love the social media part because rather than making me feel disconnected from “real” people the way so many others complain about, it actually brings me closer to “real” people. And since I — and most of my friends — are in a time of life when social interaction is limited by nap time and sick kids, this closeness is vitally important.

Old Friends Stay Friends

One of the greatest parts of Facebook is that old friends stay friends and, in some instances, become even closer friends than they were before.

Most of my friends live elsewhere and we can’t get together for a play date or coffee. Some of my friends have children (and/or spouses) I have never met. By seeing the status updates of these friends, the wedding photos, birth- and birthday photos, and just the everyday photos of their lives, I am able to stay close to them in a way I otherwise couldn’t. When I see these friends in person, I don’t feel like we need to spend the first two hours of our time together playing catch-up. I know about the recitals, the plays, the lost teeth and potty-training, the sleepless nights, and the new house.

Long-Distance Family Stays Close

The other greatest part of Facebook is that I can keep up with long-distance family. Just like with the long-distance friends referenced above, I can keep in the loop with my growing nieces, nephews, cousins, and others.

Acquaintances Become Friends

In a real-life, face-to-face relationship, people seldom bust out all their family photos, their politics, religion, and favorite TV shows and movies. It can take years to get to know a person on a deep level, because real-time interaction just doesn’t lend itself to “full” disclosure. And it probably shouldn’t. You can’t just meet someone for the first time and tell them all about your dad’s health problems, your child’s first day of preschool, or your husband’s new job. While some of these things certainly come up organically, to talk about these sorts of topics in large quantities would be one-sided and selfish, and who wants that?

But you know how you friend people on social media sites just because you sort of know them, but not really? When that happens, you see what pages they “like.” Which news stories they share. You can see what they have listed under “religion” and “politics.” You see how they interact with their spouses and children, what they look like without makeup, what they do on a daily basis, and what’s important to them. In seeing this, you start feeling like you know these acquaintances much better than you did before. Almost like…. a friend.

My time in law school is a good example of this. We were all busy, to say the least, and since I was a single parent and working part-time, I had very little social interaction with more than a handful of peers. So I became friends with people in that we knew and liked each other, but that was about it. Now that we’re “friends” on Facebook, we’ve gotten to know each other in a way that the hectic pace of law school would never have allowed. And this carries over to in-person interactions as well. When I see these acquaintances-turned-friends in real life, I (and they) feel like we truly are friends.

Current Local Friends Become Better Friends

The same logic from above applies here. I will admit, however, that there are some odd moments, such as when after a lengthy back-and-forth over the internet, or an especially personal blog post, you see each other in person and no one knows whether to reference the screen-based interaction or not (FWIW, I think it’s best to just mention it right away and get the “should I or shouldn’t I?” over with.) Or when you see a photo of someone in their jammies and slippers then see them in their Sunday best at church. Or, in the case of blogs, when you learn things about people that are deeply personal that may have taken years of friendship to uncover, if at all.

But because you do uncover these things so quickly, you become closer faster, and that’s usually a good thing.

As long as these outlets aren’t used irresponsibly and the bonds created carry over into real-life relationships, the screen time is well worth it. (IMHO : ))

Week Links #4

Prom is Saturday, graduation is in two weeks, and we will soon be headed across the country for college, so I haven’t had much time to peruse the internet lately. But in the little bit of reading I have done, here are the things I especially liked.

Women’s Words

Ann Voskamp @ (in)courage: When All the Negativity and Pessimism is Getting to You

Glennon: On Momotony and Sacred Work

Words for Thought

Jim Denison: Do All Children Go to Heaven?

Craig M. Watts: The Irrelevance of Jesus to Congressman and Food Stamps

Natalie Snapp (Mommy on Fire): When We Spew Hate and Try to Call it Truth

Brandan Robertson: Why “Evangelical” is Worth Saving

My Husband (this week he gets his own caption!)

Andrew Hanauer: Apple: When perfectly legal schemes can place human rights at risk

Andrew Hanauer: What Heroism Looks Like

As Wedding Season Begins, Thoughts for the Young Ones

As the invitations to this summer’s weddings roll in, I’ve noticed that I get more sentimental with each one. I get a little teary, even, especially when the bride and groom are especially young, or so in love that the raw and bright emotion radiating from them is blinding.

Reasons become clear and half-formed thoughts come to fruition in my magical rocking chair, and today was no different. I sat and rocked the baby, thinking of weddings, and realized that my sentimentality is rooted in joy, for obvious reasons, as well as something bittersweet, because while marriage itself is wonderful, it is also a marker of a changing life tide. Life will progress in much the same way for everyone regardless of marital status, but in marriage, just as the triumphs are shared, so too are the trials.

Marriage marks the last time one can focus solely on self, the last time chores will be done with only one person’s preference in mind. The last time it’s okay to wash only your own socks without considering the sock needs of another. The last time you can collapse into an exhausted heap at 6pm without feeling the need to explain. The last time finances are relatively uncomplicated, and that it’s okay to consider only one travel option for holiday plans. The last time you can throw up your hands and say “enough is enough,” open the door, and walk away without spending $10,000 in the process.

Lives being bound together in marriage typically begin carefree and beautiful, marked with amazing seasons of joy — wedding, honeymoon, job, house, perhaps pregnancy and beautiful children. But as the joys come in clusters, so too do the sorrows. Arguments over nothing and everything. Misunderstandings of unbelievable proportions. A child lost, a parent aged, a house foreclosed, bills mounting. And as we all know, while we tend to take our triumphs lightly, we are hit full force by trials, and after marriage that force will be felt times two.

Chores once done in love will become harbingers of resentment. If there are children of any age in your union, sleep once taken for granted will be a much fought-for commodity. Bodies will become marked by pregnancy, childbirth, lost sleep, and the inevitable stress of life.

Part of me wants my children to get married young — getting married and having children tends to bring out in people all the good things their parents taught them. They return to how they were raised, and shed many of the habits that need shedding. Part of me wants my children to marry later in life, so they can know more fully who they are, live a bit, and put off this marker of change.

I already know that when I talk to my children of love and marriage, they will smile and nod when I tell them they can’t live off love. That they will need a firmer foundation than that to build a marriage on. As I prattle on, they will be feel certain that they will be different, stronger, better. They will say that they know of the hardships and sleepless nights they will face, but they will never lose sight of love and passion. That they will never argue over selfish things, or fight over holiday plans, or worry about money because that is just so unimportant in the face of glorious love. As they smile and nod at their mom’s incessant ramblings, they will know with all their heart that the little fights they have during courtship will never grow larger, or will somehow resolve or become unimportant once they are under the same roof.

And maybe they will be right.

But when the time is right, I will try to explain, so they will be prepared, that someday soon love will be measured by how many times he got up with the baby last night,

or how many times she let you eat first.

That there will be fights over 15-minute increments of sleep, whose computer time is more important on any given day, and who left the bedroom light on, again, when no one was in the room. In these moments, you must remember you are on the same team, that your spouse has only good intentions. That your spouse is human and imperfect, just like you are.

You will be too tired, on occasion, to feel the things you felt on your honeymoon. You will also get tired of eating only broccoli because there’s no other vegetable you both like.

You will not understand how no one else can see that improperly loading the dishwasher is a divorce-worthy character flaw.

You will, occasionally, not ever want to see your beloved’s face again.

And that’s normal, I will tell them, but you have to have a plan. Otherwise, the bright and shiny thing held early in marriage will tarnish and fade.

Your plan should include not buying into the notion that you will be different. Stronger. Better. You won’t be. You will instead be awful, and selfish, and wonderful and horrible all mashed up together, and you will need to know how to draw the wonderful out of that big tangled ball. Your plan should include realizing that your marriage is just the first of many expositions, but there is only one resolution: each other. You have, as my Aunt Lucy would say, moved beyond “playing house,” to where that option from before — the one where you walk out the door — is no longer available. Marriage is the tie that binds as the waves of joy and sorrow and passion and stress wash over you and it would be easier to just give up, think only of self, run away.

As you and your partner discuss this, start detailing your plan. Discuss children, money, religion, politics, job goals and theories on parenting (and trust me, I will have much, much more to say to my children about parenting). Start talking about how you would handle it if date night happened only once every six months, and that that date night might just be 20 minutes in front of a movie while someone else holds the baby. Or maybe a drive in the minivan to drop off food for a friend. Discuss what you will do when your spouse feels down on life and you’re bursting at the seams with happiness. Hopefully you will address these issues in premarital counseling. If you do, and you realize there are just too many differences to move forward, than by all means, don’t.

But if you discuss it and plan it and realize you want to move forward together anyway…. well, there’s not much else in life that is sexier or more romantic than that.