Why do I do this?

My post yesterday may have sounded a little panicked. That is because it was. I’ve had a lot to do lately, with copy-editing deadlines looming and a 1500-2000 article due in the next week. These are some of the first real things I’ve had to get done by a certain date since Monito was born and I’m finding it exceedingly difficult. I honestly don’t think I can stay on the magazine, especially not after I return to work, and it’s making me really sad. I love being a part of that group and I don’t want to leave, but I don’t feel it’s fair for me to stay on when there are entire days when I can’t get my work done. I don’t know what to do and I’m stressing out that I feel like I have to leave even when I don’t want to. I just didn’t think I’d be forced to give up the things that are important to me. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it all later, I just wanted to explain a little what had inspired my freak out.

And now I will explain something else from my last post.

So yesterday I mentioned that I bring Monito with me when I go out so that Mi.Vida won’t be left alone with both kids. Josie asked me why I do this and I felt inclined not only to answer her, but to answer her in a separate post, instead of in the comment section. So here goes.

Why do I let Mi.Vida off the hook, ensuring that he’s never left alone with both kids? There are a lot of answers for that. First of all, it’s hard to be home alone with both kids. Really hard. I can do it, yes, but just barely. And I’d rather not. It stresses me out and I still haven’t figured out a system that works. Monito is still so young and he is not on any kind of schedule; it’s impossible to know when he’ll be sleeping and when he’ll be awake. When he’s awake, it’s hard to take care of him and meet Osita’s needs. And Osita is not in a place right now where her needs can wait. She is volatile and hard to manage, and when she sees that her needs are not being met because her brother’s needs are being met, she responds poorly. Once she starts spiraling out of control, it can take a lot to bring her back. If you end up with her melting down and Monito crying, it’s really stressful.

But I can deal with it, right? So why doesn’t Mi.Vida? It’s a valid question. I suppose the reason I don’t ask him to do it is I know he would really struggle with it. He is not as good in those kind of high stress situations. They just wear on him in ways they don’t to me. I can handle the chaos of a crying baby and crazy preschool better than he can. What is just hard for me feels impossible for him.

I also have way more practice with both kids, so I know how to manage them better. And I recognize that he will never get the practice if I don’t let him, but I’d rather he learn slowly, at a pace that feels comfortable for him. I worry that if he starts with really negative experiences, he will never feel confident in his abilities and he will set himself up for failure in future solo-parenting situations.

If I’m out and I know both kids are at home with Mi.Vida I will spend the entire time worrying how it’s going. I will probably check in on them multiple times to ensure that everything is going okay. Mi.Vida will also probably have to text or call me to ask where something is or how I usually tackle an obstacle he has never faced before. I will spend the whole time being afraid that it’s going horribly and that I’ll have to deal with the fallout when I get home.

And that is the number one reason I don’t leave Mi.Vida alone with the kids. I don’t want to deal with the fallout. Taking Monito with me and at least getting time and space away from my daughter is preferable to getting time completely alone but returning to a super-stressed husband who needs hours and hours to decompress from the chaos.

I’m sure people will read this post and think that Mi.Vida needs to suck it up and I need to give him the opportunity to do so. And those people probably aren’t wrong. I know I am creating our dynamic with the decisions that I make. But I also know my husband. I know what is he able to handle. I know what he is like when he’s put in situations that he doesn’t feel he is able to handle. My husband is a great man and a wonderful father, but he’s not with the kids as much as I am, he doesn’t know how to soothe them as easily as I do, he doesn’t have “mommy factor” on his side. He is always at a disadvantage with them, no matter what. Osita and Monito will always respond to him differently than they respond to me. I believe that would be true, even if they spend more time with him. At this point Osita spends as much time with Mi.Vida as she does with me and he meets more of her needs than I do, and yet she still obsesses about being with me because I’m her mom. There is something about “mothers,” and sometimes a father just won’t do.

So I have it inherently easier with them than he does. I also have more skills to bring to the table (a product of the countless hours I’ve spent with them during maternity leave and on my mid-year and summer breaks), making my experience with them even easier. It feels wrong for me to make him struggle doubly in situations that wouldn’t be as hard for me, especially when right now it’s so easy to carry Monito with me.

These are the same reasons I do all the night parenting. I have a system and I get it all done really quickly. I know how to read Monito’s cues so I can get his bottle ready when he’s still grunting, before he’s even escalated to full blown fuss. I can feed him and get him back down in a quick 20 minutes. And then I have to pump anyway. If Mi.Vida were to get up, it would take him 2-3 times as long as it takes me. And he’d probably make so much noise that I’d be up listening to him bungle around with the baby anyway. It doesn’t really make sense for us to both lose sleep, especially not when he has to go to work and use his brain, while I can more easily stay at home and be a zombie all day. Also, sleep deprivation affects me differently than it does Mi.Vida. He really, REALLY struggles with a lack of sleep. I’m able to manage it pretty well; I got VERY little sleep in high school and college and I was still very successful in my pursu

So that is the answer to the question why. You may think I’m making a mistake, and you’re welcome to tell me that (nicely), but I honestly doubt anything in this house is going to change. I know what I’m capable of and I know what Mi.Vida is capable of and I know what the consequences to certain choices will be. I make my decisions accordingly. And while I think that I could change the dynamic somewhat but requiring more of Mi.Vida, I also know that he will never feel as comfortable with kids as I do. Just like I will NEVER be able to clean my house as well, or as quickly, as my mom can, no matter how many times I do it myself, Mi.Vida will always feel more depleted after spending time with one or both kids, than I will.

I was the one who wanted kids. I was the one who begged Mi.Vida for years, dragging him to therapy, to get him to agree to have these babies with me. I’m the one who had over a decade of experience watching children, who has made educating children my life’s work. I’m the one who wanted this family more than anything. And I do believe that I owe it to my husband to support him in the ways he needs to be happy as a father. Right now I believe that means taking Monito with me so that he can feel confident in his parenting of our daughter. And when I do need to be away, I take comfort in the fact that his parents can help him manage both kids. Because it’s hard. And I don’t want him to be miserable. Because I know if he is miserable, I’ll end up being miserable too.

What Marriage Means

Mi.Vida and I have been hashing out what we plan to do about our wedding in January. I would like to invite about 30 or so people, all friends that live close by, while he wants to stick with our original plan of just the immediate family.

This conversation has me thinking a lot about marriage and weddings and what they mean to me. I think that maybe our contrasting preferences concerning the wedding have their roots in the different ways we view marriage as it relates specifically to us as a couple.

Mi.Vida has told me that for him, getting married is all about the legal protections the institution provides us. He doesn’t feel it adds anything to our relationship or our commitment to each other. I don’t believe that means he doesn’t love me, I just think that marriage does not, in any way, solidify that love in his eyes. His commitment to me is just as strong whether we have a marriage license or not.

I absolutely respect Mi.Vida’s feelings about marriage; I don’t think it would make much sense for me to get all upset about it when I was willing to forgo marriage before we had children in order to stand up for other beliefs we held. And honestly, my brain agrees with him. I don’t see how getting married will bring us any closer. What we’ve been through in the past four years–the frustration of failed TTC attempts, our ectopic pregnancy, the birth of our daughter, the transition to parenthood and our secondary infertility–does a lot more to prove our commitment to each other than signing a marriage license ever could. I also believe having children with someone is as big a step toward commitment as marriage, especially since children require you to stay in each other’s lives no matter what happens.

So it’s not like I believe our relationship requires the commitment of marriage to remain strong. I guess I just think this is a good opportunity to re-commit to each other in a deliberate way, especially at the end of such a difficult time in our lives. If this baby boy arrives safely, we’ll have the massive hurdle of family building behind us and the very real challenges of parenting two young children ahead. I would love for our wedding to be a celebration of what we’ve accomplished and a reminder that we have the strength to not only survive, but thrive, no matter what lies ahead.

As an extrovert, I also love the idea of sharing all of this with our loved ones. I want to stand in front of our family and friends and recognize where we’ve been and where we’re going, to declare our love and commitment for each other. It’s not that I feel we need witnesses to make it official, but I think it would be nice to include them.

We do plan to have a party this summer and it will be then that we invite ALL our friends and family from around the country. I know that no matter what we decide for January I will eventually embrace it. And I actually appreciate that our divergent desires on this have forced me to really figure out how I feel about my own marriage and wedding. If we easily agreed on what to do I might not even recognize why I wanted to do it. Now, at least I know, and I think that will help me to accept whatever ceremony we end up choosing.

Was your wedding a reflection of you felt about marriage? Do you think it would it mean the same thing if you had waited as long as we have?

Making Space

After I wrote that post earlier this week, the one about knowing only what I don’t know, I decided that I wanted to make a more concerted effort to prepare myself, both emotionally and logistically, for this baby’s arrival.

The night after I wrote that post, I really started making space for this baby. Honestly, I think we started making space as a couple after our couples pre-natal yoga. Since then Mi.Vida has started embracing this pregnancy, and this baby boy, a lot more fully. His change in attitude has helped me open my own heart. We’re both looking into the future with a lot more love, tenderness and excitement than we were before.

Making space emotionally has helped me take concrete steps to make space physically. I finally started unpacking the baby clothes and putting them where they belong. I’m cleaning out the few spots that are available so that stuff can be shuffled around. I have a giant pile of baby stuff in the garage and all of it needs to be incorporated into the already cramped 1200 square feet of our house. I’m sorting through what we do have and liberally allocating clothes and toys and books and just-plain-junk into throw- and give-away piles. I’m actually taking some of those piles to the Salvation Army and other thrift stores around town. I put the bed up on risers and bought drawers to go underneath. Even Mi.Vida went through his old dress shirts, something he’s been meaning to do since June.

Of course we’re still in a bit of an inbetwix place and that makes it hard to part with everything that should be heading out of this house. I’m not prepared to give away the maternity clothes that don’t really fit anymore (yes, I’m at the point where much of my maternity wear doesn’t accommodate my belly) as there is the slightest chance something will happen to this baby and I may need them again. I’m not ready to just give away everything girly of Isa’s because there is also the slightest chance this baby may be a girl. As soon as he emerges happy and healthy, brandishing a penis, all that stuff will be out the door.

Until then I hold onto it tentatively, refusing to dwell on the reasons I’m keeping it. I tell myself I’m being prudent, that it would be foolish to donate something I may need in the future. I can find places to store this tuff until after the baby is born.

So I’m trying to make space. I’m trying to find ways to incorporate this baby into our house, into our family, into our lives. I’m taking the steps necessary to be ready. I’m trying to embrace this new member of our family even though his arrival is uncertain.

The truth is everything is uncertain. This just feels more so because the chances are higher, but of course numbers don’t mean much when tragedy happens. I don’t know why I dwell on the horrors that befall pregnancies when I could obsess over our chances of being in a car wreck or the next big earthquake. It’s just the way my mind works.

Today I had my 34 week OB appointment. My attitude toward these appointments puts a magnifying glass up to my attitude toward my pregnancy in general.

First, I get very excited that my appointment is coming up. I spend the whole week before eagerly waiting its arrival, even though I know the actual appointment will be anti-climatic, mundane even. I think I just appreciate that these appointments mark the passage of time, they represent the undeniable fact that we are, in fact, moving closer to time when we’ll eventually meet our son.

Then I go and the whole thing feels very routine. Nothing exciting happens and I usually walk out wondering why I let myself get so excited about going in the first place. And then, as I’m leaving, I’m usually overcome with this intense emotion, it’s like a floodgate of anxiety and sadness is released all at once and I almost always end up sobbing in my car while someone waits impatiently next to me, ready to steal my parking spot. Most of the time I’m not even sure why I’m crying–I can only guess that these appointments are an opportunity for me to face my true fears, to embrace the terrible what-ifs for a moment before burying them deep inside again.

Right now I’m really busy with work and my partner and my daughter. I’m forcing myself to focus on each day as it comes and to celebrate the constant movement of my son as a great sign that he’s doing okay. I only let myself dwell on his movement for the day, allowing it to put my mind at rest because RIGHT NOW, he’s obviously thriving. I don’t let my mind project darkly into the future, I don’t allow a kick or roll to be overshadowed by a reminder that movement today does not guarantee his well-being next week, next month or even tomorrow. Instead I just remind myself that right now he seems fine, wonderful in fact, and there is no need to worry that something might be wrong until his movement (or lack thereof) suggests it. I am re-embracing my old mantra from the last pregnancy: Everything is okay until you know otherwise.

All of these are my small but significant ways of making space. I acknowledge how strange a time this is, filled with eager excitement to meet my son, the mundane reality of each and every day before he comes and my very real fear that something may happen to him. I take the time to be with my partner, to open my heart, and his, so we’re both ready to embrace our new child. And I make room in our house for this child we’ve wanted so much, so that he feels he belongs here as much as the rest of us do, despite his delayed arrival.

Guest Post: Dear Internet Weirdos

[Editor’s note: Please be warned, multiple f-bombs are about to be dropped.]

[Editor’s 2nd note: This is a post by Mi.Vida in response to the comments on last Friday’s post.]

Dear internet weirdos,

First off, what the fuck? What the fuck are you all doing here, on my partner’s personal blog, when you could be offering your dumb empathy-free opinions in one of the more traditionally accepted fora for saying dumb stuff, like Twitter or Facebook?  Seriously, go offer unsolicited, unhelpful opinions over there, not here.  You haven’t earned the right.

Second off, your judgments aren’t just judgey (cue one of these idiots pointing out that that is not a word, YES I KNOW YOU HUMORLESS ROBOTS), but they’re totally off base.  I am not miserable.  Neither is Esperanza.  I AM IN A BETTER POSITION TO KNOW THIS THAN YOU BECAUSE I AM ME AND YOUR ARE JUST SOMEONE WHO ONCE READ SOMETHING ON THE INTERNET.  I am hoping that my aggressive, decreasingly-effective use of Caps Lock will turn you off to reading anything on here ever again.

Seriously, I’m not asking you nicely. Go the fuck away, with your condescending international comparisons that have nothing to do with anything, and your “just suck it up and get better but also here are a whole bunch of putdowns.” Instead of spending your time here, wasting all of our time and making E feel like shit on a project that is a labor of love that you have not earned the right to insult, go do something positive.  If you really feel like this space is just a pit of negativity, rather than a place to work some shit out amongst supportive friends, just go live a really positive life. Instead of visiting this blog, go do some charity work, reach out to an old friend, hell, just read a book (which will have the added benefit of you not talking to anyone, which would spare everyone some grief). In other words, I encourage you to live your truth, and also go fucking fuck yourselves the fuck away from here and don’t ever come back.


Oh, but thank you for the page views. Always nice to see traffic spikes on E’s site.

It’s not about me

Last Friday was Mi.Vida’s self imposed deadline to talk to his boss about getting a more significant raise to accompany his very significant promotion and significantly augmented responsibilities. You may remember that Mi.Vida was given this promotion at the beginning of the calendar year. For almost five months he’s talked about asking for a raise but not actually done it. We’ve established in our counseling sessions that Mi.Vida has (mild) disordered anxiety about confronting his boss for a raise, though when I ask if he wants to see Sara, our counselor (not her real name), by himself, he says he doesn’t need to. From what I understand, Mi.Vida has spent the last five months not asking his boss for a raise for various reasons: he doesn’t think he’ll get one, he wants to leave anyway so he doesn’t see the point, it would be better if his direct boss were there to support him (she was on leave for a while), he’d rather avoid the conflict, he’s anxious about it.

As last week wore on, I had a feeling Mi.Vida wasn’t going to talk to his boss about the raise. At first I felt frustrated and betrayed but as the day loomed closer I realized Mi.Vida’s reluctance to ask for a raise has nothing to do with me. In couples counseling he promised himself, in front of me and Sara, he would talk to his boss, but he never promised me. His failure to do so is not a betrayal of our trust or his love for me, it has everything to do with him and his issues. And with that realization, a deep understanding washed over me: so many of the issues between Mi.Vida and I don’t involve me. They are HIS issues and they have little to do with our relationship. It’s an incredibly freeing realization. It’s also terrifying.

It makes sense that I made all this stuff about me. I mean, it seems, for all intents and purposes that these issues are about me, or us, because they directly affect our family. How much money Mi.Vida makes, how happy he is at his job, the standard of living we hope to achieve, these are all very important to our family as a whole, but they aren’t integral issues to our relationship. They are Mi.Vida’s issues, that he has to figure out for himself. For months I’ve thought that the answers to these questions were wrapped up in me and his feelings for me, but they aren’t. Mi.Vida needs to think about these things for himself.

Why is he not asking his boss for a raise, really? Is the anxiety of the actual moment really paralyzing for him? Is he ambivalent because he doesn’t want to be there? Is he reluctant to ask for more money, or look for a new job (there has been glacial progress on that front for the past year as well) because he doesn’t really want to make more money? What standard of living does Mi.Vida hope to achieve? What sacrifices is he willing to make in his professional life to achieve that standard of living? These are the questions Sara asked him to consider before our next appointment.

In the past I would have believed his answer to any of those questions was a reflection of how he felt about me and our relationship. If he LOVED me he would want what was best for us. If he really wanted to be a part of our family, he would make that work. Of course, in my mind, what was “best” for us and what would make it “work” were what I wanted for our family, or followed the compromises I was willing to make. But Mi.Vida’s answers to those questions are about who he is fundamentally as a person. It’s not about me. At least, the actual answers are. The only thing that concerns me is the steps he wants to make after he’s figured out the answers.

Mi.Vida has a lot of soul searching to do to figure out what he wants in life. Right now he is paralyzed, by a belief that there is no job out there that could provide him the money he needs to support his family AND the fulfillment he hopes to achieve personally. Basically he thinks he can be happy making not enough money or miserable making too much but that there is nothing in between. I know how he feels, I feel the same way. It’s a hard wall to come up against. But just as my struggles with this issue aren’t, at their core, about him or our relationship, neither are his about me.

This morning I tripped on a box of law books that have been sitting in our hallway for over three years. For THREE YEARS I have asked Mi.Vida to get rid of those stupid law books. Every time I give up and say I’m just going to do it, he swears he’ll do it himself. But then he doesn’t. For the past three years I’ve seen those law books (every time I pass them in our narrow hall) as a reminder of Mi.Vida’s shortcomings, as a reminder of how, even when he knows something is important to me, he still doesn’t follow through. Today I tripped over those law books and started my same internal monologue.

But then I stopped myself. Those law books aren’t about me. I tried to make them about me by asking him over and over to move them, but they aren’t about me. They are about Mi.Vida and what motivates him to follow through and do something. That box of books is never an issue for Mi.Vida, he doesn’t have to move it away from the wall and sweep around and under it once a week. He doesn’t have to find places for all the other crap that doesn’t fit in our house. He hasn’t moved those books not because he doesn’t love me or doesn’t care about me but because he doesn’t care about those books. They are constantly overshadowed by the millions of other things that are more important for him to do.

Mi.Vida and I are different people. I can’t determine what I would do in a situation and then use that same expectation to judge why he is or isn’t doing something in the way I would do it. And I can’t see all his decisions as a reflection on how he feels about me. That is not an accurate representation of things.

Our counselor (who I swear is pregnant and not telling us, and it’s really starting to make me mad) is going to be gone for two weeks. After that we’re supposed to get together again, the three of us, and see where we are. Then we both need some individual sessions and hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll have a general direction mapped out. And while there is a part of me that feels incredible frustration that it’s taking us so long to get wherever we are going, another part of me is grateful we’re at least trying. Hopefully, some day, this will all be resolved and the effort we’re spending now will feel so worth it.

But the trudging through of it is hard. And I’m tired. And I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we seem to have made so little progress while also coming so far. The whole thing feels like a constant contradiction.

Knowing Each Other’s Heart

If there were any one thing I regret as a blogger, it is that by the time I sit down to convey what happens during our couples counseling sessions, I’m just too emotionally drained to do a decent job. I think it is valuable to record them here, both for myself and for those who may not have the resources available to see a counselor themselves, so I muddle through, but I never feel I’m doing them justice. I’m sorry if these posts aren’t very insightful or well written, but I do think it’s important to put them out there, despite their shortcomings.

Last week our appointment mainly dealt with the fallout of our missed month of TTC. We also got some homework to do for this week’s appointment (usually we don’t go every week but this month’s schedule was weird). The homework mainly had to do with our reasons for having another child. We were both supposed to list our fears and reasons for wanting another baby.

Mi.Vida went first, relaying his fears. Interestingly (to me) Mi.Vida’s biggest fears center around TTC. He’s worried it’s going to be difficult for me again and that–as he’s already stretched so thin–he won’t have enough support to give me when I’m floundering. He also worries that prescribed sex will make him resentful. He fears the whole ordeal will be as brutal and heart wrenching as it was the first time. I don’t blame him for his concerns. They are all very valid and understandable, especially given what we went through the first time. I wasn’t surprised to hear his fears but it was still powerful to acknowledge them. I hope I can remember them as we move forward and do whatever I can to make this a positive experience for him.

My fears were more based in the challenges of TTC, possible loss, pregnancy and infancy all while managing a toddler. Basically I’m worried about how I’ll navigate all the difficulties of trying to conceive, dealing with a loss (if we have one), the exhaustion, nausea and discomfort of a pregnancy and then the sleep deprivation and hormonal swings (not to mention breastfeeding struggles) of the newborn months, all with an energetic toddler in tow. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to manage it all, especially not while I’m working full time. It just seems like too much. And after watching our relationship crumble under the weight of one child, I’m terrified of what two will do to us. I worry for Mi.Vida’s happiness and my own sanity.

Next we presented the reasons why we do want to have another child. Mi.Vida’s were all expressed with heartfelt sincerity and I appreciated them very much. He mentioned how much he loves being a father, how he appreciates the challenges of parenthood even if they sometimes feel overwhelming; while he misses the lazy carefree existence of life without kids he also values all he accomplishes as a father. He says he loves the connection he has with Isa and looks forward to nurturing a similarly fulfilling relationship with another child. He also says, for all its nuanced complexities, that parenthood has brought us closer together and he wants to build our family knowing that we, as a couple, will grow too.

I have to admit, every single one of Mi.Vida’s reasons for having another child surprised me and not just because they were so thoughtful and well articulated. I didn’t realize how much he valued fatherhood and its challenges. I didn’t realize how much joy he took in his relationship with our daughter. I didn’t know much he really, truly loved his new role as dad. And I definitely didn’t recognize his belief that we have become stronger through all of this. Hearing his reasons was a eyeopening indeed.

In the wake of Mi.Vida’s reasons for wanting another child, mine felt incredible pragmatic. I want Isa to have a sibling, and I hope they will be close as my sister and I were. I want to have another child, experience the connection I have Isa with someone else. I want to know what it’s like to love someone else like I love her, to have that bond with two people instead of just one. I want to experience pregnancy and child birth again (well, really just those precious hours after childbirth would be fine). I also hope to learn more about myself by parenting another child; the lessons Isa teaches me are more relevant and profound than any others I’ve ever learned. I also want to see who we, together, can bring into the world. I know we are so lucky to be able to have biological children–a mixture of the two of us–and I want to meet another person that is borne of our love and commitment to each other, almost more so since it’s become so hard won.

Sharing our pro and con lists for having another child was a powerful exercise. I think for the first time we really understand where the other person is coming from. I hope that knowing each other’s hearts will help us moving forward, that we will be able to show each other more empathy and compassion, that we will be able to give each other more support. I also hope it will aid us having more faith in ourselves as a couple, in believing we can do this, despite the struggles we’ll surely face.

Two steps forward…

This Tuesday Mi.Vida’s colleagues were informed of his promotion. In the New Year he will become the managing attorney at his non-profit. He’s known about the promotion for almost two months and while he was told it would include a substantial raise, he was never given an exact number. This was great news for us because our financial plan for a second child required $10,000 more a year from each of us. I figured I could make my$10K tutoring and giving private classes in the evenings. Mi.Vida’s $10K was going to come from his raise.

This Friday Mi.Vida was finally given an offer letter. His raise was substantial alright-substantially smaller than he had expected. All the plans we’d spent three months in therapy working towards seemed to be unraveling before our eyes. It was a difficult afternoon.

In the hours after I heard of the raise debacle I felt a number of things, primarily anger, frustration, despair and panic. I wanted Mi.Vida to march in there and demand an explanation. I wanted him to say that he would have to leave because (a) the compensation was not adequate for the amount of work he’d be doing and (b) he couldn’t support his family on the salary they were proposing. I wanted resolution and I wanted it now.

Of course even if Mi.Vida didn’t avoid conflict like the plague, he would never had done any of that. That isn’t his style and it’s probably for the best. I can’t imagine my plan would have produced the desired result anyway.

The next 24 hours were difficult for me. I lamented the fact that our plan was basically ruined, as it hinged on money that we falsely believed we’d be earneing. I feared the conflicts this would create, as Mi.Vida handled the disappointing raise, and eventually finding another job, in ways I didn’t understand or endorse. But really, the thing I was most upset about was the uncertainty. I was so looking forward to knowing what at least one large part of the next couple of years would look like; now yet another piece of our future was completely unknown.

Turns out uncertainty stokes my anxiety big time.

Once I was able to articulate that realization I felt better. Just knowing that the uncertainty was what bothered me most made all of it more manageable. I no longer felt overwhelmed by all of it.

On Saturday I initiated sex with Mi.Vida during Isa’s nap. Our joint “homework” from our couples counselor was to spend 30-60 minutes a week doing something we both enjoyed and to have sex once a week, whether we “wanted to” or not (you can imagine who that last bit was aimed at). We’d barely fit our first sexual encounter in the week before and I was determined to get the second one done as well (I’ve always been a straight student and I NEVER turn my homework in late). Initiating sex on Saturday felt like checking a task off my to do list but in the end I was so glad we did it. It’s true that being intimate can help kindle a connection between two people, even if one (or both) lacks the urge to do it.

On Saturday night I went to my staff party and told Mi.Vida to spend the evening with his friends. While I carve out time to meet with my girl friend he almost never takes the same initiative. I knew he wouldn’t mind going to my staff party but I also guessed he’d prefer to take advantage of “guy time” so I pushed him to do that. We both ended up enjoying the evening immensely and were happier to see each other the next morning than we might have been had we forced a shared experience.

On Sunday we went to couples counseling. Mi.Vida’s homework was to agree to the time line I’d proposed at the last meeting. I was sure that the new financial uncertainties would determine his decision but they didn’t, or at least not in the way I expected. He felt we were doing much better emotionally and that the financial piece would fall into place. He not only agreed that we could start trying in June of next year, but conceded that we could even begin earlier if things continued in a positive direction. I couldn’t believe it.

The rest of the day Mi.Vida spoke with sparks of excitement about finding something new. As a someone who’s never been a self started he believes this raise debacle might be just the kick in the pants he needs to make a move to something new and hopefully better. And while I’m still anxious about the uncertainty involved, I feel more hopeful about the eventual outcome than I did about the original (assumed) raise.

Two weeks ago I was wondering if the time, effort and money we’d been spending at couples counseling was worth it. While some days were obviously better, there was a lot of that “two steps forward, one step back” sentiment. I doubted any real progress would ever be made. It seems, though, that it has. I see it in the disagreements we have that don’t ruin our time later together, even if the issues haven’t been resolved. I glimpse it in the renewed support we show each other at home every night. I recognize it in the way we handled the bad news this weekend, in the honesty and acceptance present in our discussions about the future.

It’s true that we’ve been taking two steps forward, one step back. I’ve been so focused on the back steps that I forgot one simple truth – the final sum of that equation is still one step forward. It may take a long time to get anywhere when you’re making a go of it one step at a time, but you will eventually get there. And it seems, slowly but surely, that we are.