Dear Newlyweds,

“A strong marriage rarely has two strong people at the same time. It is a husband and wife who take turns being strong for each other in the moments when the other feels weak.”

In the past three years, my husband and I have been to nine weddings. With each wedding came slightly different emotions, but one thing that has remained the same is the pure happiness that I get as a wife to know what is in store for them. Each time I heard the bride say “I do”, watched them sign away their last names forever, or kiss their groom — I always find myself looking at my husband.

I love watching two people we care about pledge their loyalty and commitment to each other with such confidence that they go so public about it. But being a wife has taught me just how sentimental a wedding is. When we go to weddings or plan them, we often are thinking of the wedding; the ceremony, the bride’s dress, the open bar, the dancing, the cake. But once you are married, when you are someone’s wife, a wedding is about the marriage. The marriage is what comes after the dust of the wedding has settled. The marriage is the hard stuff — getting married is easy, but being married can be tough.

Each wedding is always about a new love – a new marriage – a new bond between two people. They are all different than the others, but each touches my heart. In every ceremony, in every toast, in every reading, there is something that makes me think of my own marriage and my own husband. That man that only two years ago I vowed to spend the rest of my life with. Each time I hear those things I look at my husband whether he is right next to me or across the room, and each time we lock eyes. In those moments, I know that no matter where we are in life, no matter what hardships we have recently encountered, no matter what disagreements we may be in, I know that he is thinking the same thing I am; we are really lucky. We are lucky to know the love that these readings are talking about, to know that marriage is tough but its worth the fight. We are lucky to know that we can find comfort on each other’s shoulders and support in each other’s hands. We are lucky to have found the person who keeps us grounded, but encourages us to grow.

 

So Newlyweds;

Enjoy the sparkle and shine of your reception. Enjoy the laughs and flowers of your ceremony. Enjoy the food and desserts and alcohol. But don’t forget to soak in the love and support that your guests are giving to you, and pour it all into your marriage.

Your wedding day is going to be phenomenal – and anything that may go wrong, will be the things you joke and laugh about a year later. Excuse the flower girl who cries for her mom, excuse the friend who shows up in jeans, excuse the florist who messed up the bouquets. Those things won’t matter – what will matter is that you are going to stand with your best friend and listen to them as they vow to cherish and love you for the rest of their lives.

It’s hard to believe this right now, but your wedding day will not be the best day of your life. There will be random days throughout your marriage that will make you fall in love with your spouse all over again, your wedding day is just one of those days. It will happen spontaneously and it will happen often. It will also happen with the births of your children, the day you buy your first home, the day your spouse gets their dream job, other weddings you attend. Years from now, you will love your spouse a million times more than you do today. THAT will be your best day.

Marriage is the greatest thing we can ever endure. Waking up every morning and knowing that there is someone on this planet who was willing to bet you half of everything they own that they’ll love you forever is quite breathtaking. It is not to be taken lightly. Marriage will also change things. Whether you have lived together previously or already have children, marriage changes things. It brings you closer in a way that I cannot describe to you. Being married means you are marrying your lives, your dreams, and your hopes together. You are now living for the same future. However, you must not lose yourselves. Continue to do the things you need to do for yourself, but learn the healthy mix of doing those things alone, letting your new spouse do their own things, and finding time to grow as a couple and spend time together.

There will be hard times, but in those times, remember the love you share today. Remember all the times you have locked eyes on this special day. Remember the touch of your spouses hands while you said your vows to them. Remember the tears they shed while your family and friends gave their speeches.  Remember that there will be another day soon that you will fall in love with them all over again. Remember that the best is yet to come, but the best things don’t come without work. And most of all, remember that that person loves you with more than their being and they deserve for you to try your very best.

You have waited your whole life for this day — and you chose the perfect person to spend your forever with. My hope for you on this day, is that you have really good stories to tell tomorrow, and that in twenty years, you are more in love with one another than you ever dreamed possible today. You will get there, and it’s because of the fights and downfalls and struggles that you will end up making it.

Cheers to you, Mr. & Mrs. Go celebrate your new life together and learn to share your mashed potatoes.

XOXO, Shelby

**Huge congratulations to the beautiful couple that got married yesterday. We were thrilled to be a part of your wedding! Mr. & Mrs. Johnson, I know you two will make it through anything that comes your way. Congratulations on your forever!**

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Be Selfish.

Yesterday, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I spent the majority of my day with my husband and both of our kids. However, there was a point in my day while we were shopping when I dipped into a few of my favorite stores alone and my husband took the kids to the play place. Why, you ask? Because I was being selfish and felt like taking some me time. (And lets be real – who wants to be shopping in Victoria’s Secret with their screaming baby and curious toddler?) If that makes me sounds like a terrible mom, then you need to start doing it, too.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, everybody I knew gave me advice. Most of it I paid way too much mind to and I spent the first year of her life trying to make sure I was living up to everyone’s expectations. I was sleep-deprived, stressed out, and spreading myself far too thin — basically, just a mess. A good friend of mine, and fellow mother, asked me if she could stay at my house with my daughter while I went out for some “me time”. I instantly remembered that during my pregnancy someone told me as a mother to make sure I make time to be selfish. I was mortified. Being a mother means being selfless all of the time. It means always putting the happiness and needs of your tiny humans ahead of your own. And that is what I was prepared to do. How could you be selfish and be a good mom? I not-so-nicely declined her offer.

Not long after that, I moved in with my mom and no longer had the choice to decline help. I had to go back to work and school, and I suddenly needed help watching my daughter. Slowly, I started to realize that I was becoming healthier; physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s not that she didn’t make me happy, or that being a mom was a strain on my life. I have loved motherhood ever since the day she was placed in my arms. But, I felt this huge guilt on me that I was suddenly becoming a better mother, only because I was leaving her more. I never quite understood why.

Then, just a few months ago I ran across this photo online;13166043_10156873205195564_3801092707817124148_n

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

It made so much sense to me. How can we give our all to our children when we aren’t replenishing our cups every once in awhile? How can I be the best mom possible if I am not the best me possible?  I am lucky to have a husband who understood, and he helped me to understand it. Being a parent does not make you only a parent. I am still a wife, a daughter, a friend, a sister. I don’t want my children to think that once they become a parent, they lose all their other sides to them. I am a stable mother because I am a selfish mother.

It’s May now, so the dreaded articles have started to take over my news feeds on social media. The ones about babies being left in cars because of parents who are so stressed or sleep-deprived that they just forget. I am not a judgey mom. But I can’t help but think that those moms do nothing but mother their children. I think back to when I was a new mom and that is all I did. It is so important for us parents, especially stay at home parents to replenish ourselves. Take a few hours a week to grocery shop by yourself, get your hair done every 6 months alone, go get a massage, go fishing, take a day trip somewhere, go on a date with your significant other, celebrate big events with your friends as adults!

If you aren’t a parent, it’s easy to judge me. It’s easy to think that this sounds like terrible mom advice. I get it. I thought the same thing. But as soon as I started allowing myself to be selfish again, I became the best mom my children have ever seen me be. And the best part is, I have a wonderful marriage, a great relationship with my sisters, brothers, and parents, and I have some really amazing friendships. Being selfish time to time made me learn how to balance it all and keep myself centered.

If you are a parent, new or not, my best advice to you; is to be selfish. Don’t hesitate to call for a sitter. Your babies aren’t going to remember the hour a week that Mommy was gone, but they will remember if you aren’t happy. They will know if your mind is not where it should be, and if you’re too frazzled, everyone suffers.

My kids weren’t with me any of these times:

But do they look like they resent me because of it? Or like they’re missing out on happiness?

Nope – my kids are the happiest little gremlins I know.

Be selfish. You and your kids deserve it.

XOXO, Shelby

You have the wrong target.

I am a mother to a beautiful little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl. I am also (mostly) Republican. Every single day of my life, I fear for my children’s safety. I don’t say this lightly; I legitimately live in paranoia and fear that something bad could happen to my children. There is no way in Hell that I am okay with a pedophile peeking in on my child while she is using a public restroom.

You know what else I am not okay with? Discrimination. Hatred. Judgments being placed on an entire group of people just because they live differently than you are used to.

I am very opinionated – if you know me, you know just how true this statement is. I try very hard to keep my blog in the middle, so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings or target anyone specifically. What you also know to be true if you know me, is I have friends all over the spectrum. I have beliefs and religious views that vary far and wide from my friends’, yet I don’t let that get in the way of my friendships, you know why?! THAT’S RIGHT, folks with a brain – it’s because we are all humans. We all are capable of love and understanding and acceptance.

I know we all have learned about segregation. About racism. About white privilege. And when we were younger, we always were so confused on WHY. WHY couldn’t blacks use the restroom that a white person was using? Oh, it was literally just becuase of their race. The color of their skin rid them of basic human rights. So how is this Target bathroom situation any different?

Let’s be honest for a second. Those of you that are reading this, scoffing, and getting your fingers ready to be a keyboard warrior and tell me how awful I am to support such an audacity – WHY are you against this rule (which – by the way – is nothing new. Target has always had this rule in their policy, which means if you have ever used the restroom at a Target, you very well could have been stall-neighbors with a transgender and you never even knew it.)? Is it because you don’t want your child to know acceptance? Is it because you want to teach your children to fear those who live their lives differently than you live yours? Because that is what you are teaching them.

I’m going to ruin your day for a minute. Rape happens. Sexual assault happens. Peeping Toms happen. Violent men do not care what the sign on the door says. And – you are also 90% more likely to be sexually attacked by someone you know, than you are a stranger sneaking into a public bathroom in the middle of the day. When I was 17 years old, I was sexually assaulted by someone I knew very well. There are laws that could have protected me. There is common sense that could have protected me. But guess what, he didn’t care. Because he was a violent man with a mission. My attacker was going to attack me, whether there was a sign that said he was allowed to or not. Pedophiles are going to attack, whether or not there are laws forbiding it.13083163_10100369298172374_1519429270767372072_n

I have been silently -and sometimes not silently – reading comments on blogs and posts and articles written about Target, from both sides of this debate (WHY IS THIS EVEN A DEBATE?!) for a few days now. What it seems to come down to is parents don’t want a penis next to the stall that their wife/daughter/sister is using. Well, let me solve this life-ending riddle for you. Don’t use the public restroom. Pee at your own home before you leave. Wait until the person you are so uncomfortable being next to is finished. You know what you DON’T do? You do not make somebody who has already lived their life in a state of confusion, in constant fear, with little acceptance, feel more uncomfortable or unwelcome because you are simple-minded. It is none of your business where they pee. I have been in places where they only have one, single, unisex bathroom – guess what, I have never been attacked there. I have never feared for my life. When I was younger, one of my favorite bars to go to had Drag Shows every week – and I went. I sat at the bar and drank with my girlfriends, and I never once felt uncomfortable or fearful that a man who identified as a woman was going to rape me.

Let’s break this down. Transgenders are not pedophiles. There is a difference between the two. They are not connected. I understand that they live differently than some others, but that does not make it okay to fear an entire group of people just because you do not understand them or their life. Do you think Transgenders want to waltz into a bathroom, knowing that there are so many people who want to stop that from happening? No, because they fear, too. I have seen an ungodly amount of threats on social media about this. “If I see a man follow my wife into the bathroom, I’ll kick his ass.” “No grown man should enter a woman’s restroom, if I see it, he’s dead.” Well great. I agree, if there is a grown man following in, sure. But if it is a woman who identifies as a woman, but happens to have a penis still, where would you suppose she pee? Bear with me for a second.

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This is Kylan. She has a penis. Should she have to go into the MENS restroom?

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Meet Aiyden. Adorable, right?! Well, guess what. Aiyden has a vagina. Do you want him in the bathroom with your wife/daughter?

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I’m assuming you caught onto my trend here. PENIS. So she should have to use the mens room, too, right?

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Vagina. So, women’s restroom, right?

 

This isn’t a debate about Transgenders, so let’s not take it out on them. You gotta pee, do your thing, but do not think that you are above somebody else just because you were born with the body parts that match your identity. Do not think that you get to make decisions affecting someone else’s life. You want to protect yourself, your wife, your children, ABSOLUTELY. I get that. I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a sister. You know how I am still alive and how I protect my children? Situational Awareness. I pay attention to my surroundings. If something seems off, or I am creeped out by something, I simply wait until it passes or I skip it. Living in fear is no way to live nor is it what I want to pass down to my children. Should I ever have a child who identifies as the sex opposite to what they were born as, I hope that they are always met with love and acceptance for who they really are.

Now excuse me while I run to Target & look up when the next Drag Show is.

 

XOXO, Shelby

Cover some Booty!

I am a mother, and even before I was a mother, I was always very maternal. Babies are my weak spot and whenever I hear of babies in need, I melt. Whenever I hear of someone trying to save all the babies in need, I melt more! This is only one of the reasons why I am so inspired by my beautiful friend, Kerrigan Cornwell.

Kerrigan is dedicated to bettering the world, one diaper at a time! While volunteering her time to the less fortunate is nothing new to her, she has recently taken it to an even bigger step. After hearing from a neighbor that there are babies in Haiti who go without necessities such as diapers, Kerrigan decided to take things into her own hands.

As most of us know, the island nation Haiti is not nearly as advanced as the United States. Haiti has the highest maternal and infant mortality rate in the entire Western Hemisphere, and so many of the deaths are preventable. There are birthing centers in Haiti that are solely run by donations and volunteers as a nonprofit. These birthing units supply expectant mothers with prenatal care, postpartum care, and the birth of their babies. Without these centers, many mothers and their babies wouldn’t receive any medical attention and would face huge risks including diseases, infections, and death. Even so, not every baby is accommodated with the supplies they need, like – you guessed it – diapers! They are in need of such simple supplies so their chances of contracting and spreading deadly diseases shrink.

Kerrigan felt inspired and after doing some research, she got together with some co-workers at Enterprise and shared her vision. Her team is actively collecting t-shirts from customers, friends, family, anyone willing & able to donate. Each t-shirt will then be made into two reusable cloth diapers to send to birthing centers in Haiti. Right now, they have already sent off the first 150 shirts to be made into diapers and off to the babies who need them. She has another approximately 800 shirts waiting to be sewed!

So, what can YOU do to help? Do you have any old t-shirts you are ready to throw out anyways? Can you sew? We are still collecting t-shirts from anybody who can help out! However, Kerrigan says their biggest hump right now is the process of making the diapers. Since this is not with any organization and it is just being organized by this small group of 6 people locally, it has been hard to find people ready to take on the task of sewing the t-shirts into the diapers. If you can sew, we have a pattern, but it can be any cloth diaper pattern you are comfortable with. Whether you want to take this project on individually, or you know a group of moms, church women, anyone with some extra time on their hands that want to volunteer some of that time and their skill, let me know!10610649_10209544626317368_3949142167661706296_n

PLEASE feel free to contact me if you are able to help in anyway. I can arrange to meet for donations, or I can get you Kerrigan’s contact information if you want to take on some t-shirts and start sewing away!

With the help of volunteers, donations, and all the time and efforts these Enterprise employees are committing to, many babies’ lives will be changed (and saved!) before they even know it. Talk about real life superheroes!

XOXO, Shelby

The Kardashian Kurse

Kan we just forget about them yet?!

While browsing Pinterest the other day, I kept running into these blackholes. Literally, it was like a whole patch of my newsfeed…. EVERYTHING KARDASHIAN. Seriously, so much Kim, Kanye, Kris, Kendall, Kourtney — you know the rest?!

I instantly found myself looking at hundreds and hundreds of memes, quotes, photos from magazines (I’ll be honest, Kourtney has some KILLER style sense!!). It’s like a love-hate relationship with that family, am I right? They are easily the family I love to hate on most. *Haters – here is your perfect time to blame it all on my jealousy!! I mean, c’mon, Kim worked hard to get famous — ;)*12071771_10156603427820564_1733433152_n

I have always loved Kourtney and Khloe – and sure they are sometimes hilarious and dysfunctional and fun to watch – but that’s not what I want filling my daughter’s head. I don’t want her to see these girls and think that beauty means thousands of dollars of surgery, weekly lip injections, waist training until your ribs break, and pounds and pounds of makeup.

I know, I know – HOW could I hate on America’s Royal Family?! Here is plenty of reasons why you (and your daughters, sisters, cousins, friends) should idolize these talent-filled, do-gooders: (Have you caught onto my sarcasm yet?…)

  1. Every girl dreams of posing nude for playboy. And every mom dreams of being there to snap your own personal photos of your naked daughter, legs-sprawled, while she is posing nude for Playboy. Ah – the American Dream.anigif_enhanced-30911-1440584834-2
  2. If ever you get arrested, you should always know that you have one phone call to make from jail. And everyone should take cue from Kanye here. (He’s Kardashian by marriage, that lucky asshat.)12825206_10156603427865564_401783083_n
  3. Everybody wants to share their sexual history with their mother. And it’s only fair that she reciprocates and shares hers with you!71cd96777aac3542e10b2e31c87d2b2d
  4. They clearly respect each other.12804143_10156603427710564_1205387829_n
  5. And support each other the way I can only hope my children will do for each other.55616e1a0922a82bab0ce30ad7aba209
  6. And defend each other.377a00eec6b755a0e6a9697c93cd30be
  7. Lets not forget how much respect they have for their mom.anigif_enhanced-16132-1440587399-5
  8. Seriously.anigif_enhanced-14833-1440760019-2
  9. Which is fair – because she deserves it.anigif_enhanced-3976-1440586498-2
  10. They are very open-minded.54679d41522534712357d7a6d3770c20
  11. They truly embrace the sanctity of marriage.12804083_10156603479660564_1840414986_n
  12. They appreciate the little things in life.4ee58c0973248f06a0c2182544610a91
  13. Especially when those “little things” are earrings that cost as much as a house. (I mean, who takes off $78,000 earrings before they swim in the ocean?)anigif_enhanced-25609-1440604026-6
  14. They are full of class.12825614_10156603427930564_730766974_n
  15. Speaking of class — I want my daughter to admire their wardrobe, or lack there of.46cb256f3a5b92e62d76b41db119a7cb

 

….Yeah – I think we’ll steer clear from the Kardashians in our household.

233d04f6e7e467c86c66b9201a3b1099We feel ya, Bruce.

XOXO, Shelby

Let the assholes be assholes.

I have dealt with assholes my whole life. (Haven’t we all?!) But I am a very introverted person sometimes, and I have a hard time calling people on their shit. I am a bartender and all too often have had asshole customers that you just have to suck it up and ignore them.

However – as a mom, a wife, and an adult growing my own business and brand, it has changed my perspective. I am used to biting my tongue and being the bigger person, and that probably won’t change.

When you are a good person with a good heart, it makes you a target. There are wolves in this world who seek you out and may mistake your innocence for that of a sheep. It’s time to let you in on my little secret; we are not sheep. We are simply good people with good hearts and good intentions. And we cannot be broken down by nasty people and their negative vibes.

There will always be assholes in this world. It is our job to stay strong. Let the assholes be assholes. Stay positive. Show your children these people as an example of how not to live. Bite your tongue, not because you are weak or scared, but because you are better than them. Do not envy these people, pity them. Karma is a real bitch, let her take care of their fate.

You are golden and there is nobody who can take that from you without your permission. High school really wasn’t thaaaaaat long ago, so sometimes it can seem so easy to resort to the trash talk and gossip, but we are better than that. When we start encouraging each other and working together, amazing things can happen. The best way to get your revenge on the people who try to tear you down, is to simply rise up. Build yourself up bigger than ever before. Start your own business, follow your dreams, build your family. But do not fall at the words of people lesser than you. If they are talking behind your back, that means you are already ahead of them.

Let the assholes be assholes. You just keep doing your thing!

XOXO, Shelby

In My Daughter’s Eyes

 

You know those days when mom-life just seems really hard and all you need is a little reminder that you are, in fact, doing something right? Today was one of those days for me, and I got one of the best reminders of all.

It has been a long and demanding past week and a half in our household. My husband had been practically on bedrest for a week after his procedure, rendering him useless as far as bedtimes, diaper changes, outfit changes, feeding time, bath time, driving goes… YEAH. (*Disclaimer: I really do make light of the situation. He is never useless in our family or home!) But after an over-exhausting week and a half, I was just pushed to my limits. Neither kid has slept much the past few nights, so that means Momma has not slept well – and I am not a well-rounded adult when I don’t get sleep.

Today I woke up tired and cranky. I tried my best to pull myself together before the mess of breakfast, getting the kids ready, playing, lunchtime, preschool drop-off, and errands. I felt defeated. I was thrilled when I got my daughter to school on time and she was still in a happy mood and ready to go learn. She loves school, the four days a week she goes are her most favorite days of the week. I’ll take that as my sign that I am doing something right, I thought. My daughter loves school, loves to learn, and has FUN doing it.

When I went to pick her up three hours later, I drove around the back of the building, as I do sometimes, to watch her and her classmates out on the playground. I am pretty sure this is the definition of hovering or a helicopter mom, but — I don’t give a shit. I like to watch her be careless and have fun and laugh. Usually I can find her running around playing tag with the majority of the kids, or sometimes on the swings with a couple other girls. Today, I had to look a little extra hard – even though she had on bright-colored chevron leggings and a hot pink shirt – and when I found her, I instantly began sobbing.

I found my daughter by the swings, but she wasn’t swinging herself. She was standing next to one of the teachers from her classroom, the teacher who works with the special needs student they have. My daughter has told us about this student before – when telling us who her best friends are. Sean and I were amazed that our girl never brought up her wheelchair. It’s not that we shelter her and don’t talk about how people have different bodies, we do, but she has never met anyone in a wheelchair before. She told us this girl was one of her best friends and then said, “Mom, she has such pretty hair!” That’s it. Conversation was over. Anyways, at the elementary school my daughter goes to, they have a long row of swings, and they also have swings that are wheelchair-accessible for those students who may need them. Today, I found my sweet, blonde-haired diva standing in front of that swing while her friend was in it, and she was pushing her gently. I looked at the teacher who was very intently watching, and she had the biggest, proudest smile on her face as she called over another teacher who came over and high-fived my daughter. I spotted the rest of the kids in the classroom, running around, sliding, swinging, jumping rope, and they were all so happy – including my daughter. I could tell from the smile on her face that she was helping her friend because she wanted to, she wanted to include her and play with her. She could have been playing tag or soccer, but she was right where she wanted to be.

I left my parking spot before recess was over so I could get to parent pick-up and pull my shit together so I wasn’t that hot mess mom. Once she got in the car, I asked her about her day — her favorite part of school, who she played with, what they had for snack, etc. She never brought up recess, and she never knew I had been watching. Silently, I am feeling like the proudest mom ever.

My daughter is curious and she’s learning. We have always swore that if she ever asks us tough questions about what makes people unique, that we would answer to the best of our abilities, but also make sure it is easy for her to understand. Her best friend in her class is of a different race and the opposite gender, and that’s just how it is. She has never asked us about it. If only the world could see things through the eyes of my blue-eyed beauty…

I had been so stressed about little things until I saw my daughter be so innocent and so open-hearted. I may not be the perfect mom, but I am raising one amazing daughter and that’s really all I can ask for right now. We must be doing something right, her big heart is my proof of that.12592620_10156699242740564_4653568743730686382_n

XOXO, Shelby – Proud Momma Bear

My broken home made me whole

When I was nine years old, my life was perfect.1479499_10156684939635564_5784389459703689192_n

When I was ten years old, my parents divorced.

As far as I knew, my parents were happily married. Mom & Dad were married because they loved each other and that was never going to change. After all, they had three kids together – kids don’t happen when there isn’t love. My dad was on his second marriage, so my mom HAD to be the one…..right?!

I will never forget the night I found out they were going to get a divorce. I will never forget the sound of my dad saying the word “divorce”. It sounded like such a dirty word, like a word I should never repeat, like it had to be a big family secret. Divorce wasn’t supposed to happen to us, that was just in other families. I remember being scared and confused. I remember my friend’s mom hugging me and crying and telling me “it’s all going to be okay, they’ll work it out”, and my teacher squatting in front of my desk at school and telling me, “we are all here to talk to you, in privacy, just us, whenever you need”. Suddenly, I felt dirty. I felt like everyone looked at me like I was broken because I came from a broken home. That feeling didn’t go away for a long time.

When I was sixteen I started dating this boy. I consider him my first “real” relationship. Sure, I was just a junior, but he was a senior, and he was very…passionate. Everything he did, he did with a full heart. It was cute at first, until it came to the control issues and the abuse. I grew up swearing that I would never end a relationship unless it was so bad that cops should be involved. I swore I would never be like my parents. Sure, my boyfriend (we’ll call him Brad) and I were not married, but how could I explain why I ended it? I lived the last 6 years of my life trying to understand how someone can just stop loving someone in one day. He never physically hit me, so I didn’t think it was reason enough to leave. After five months of trying to get out, I was finally able to leave. Brad was the first man who made me understand divorce. If we had been married, I still would have left. My world was suddenly rocked.

For the first time in my life, I understood that a commitment can’t always be kept. Marriage is not something to take lightly, but sometimes people don’t turn out to be who you thought they were. Sometimes relationships take a turn for the worst. When I was nineteen, it happened again. Only this time, I ended up pregnant and engaged. I spent way too much time on a man that I did not love and that did not love or respect me — out of fear. I was scared to fail at another relationship. I was scared that one day my daughter would be looked at as broken, just the way I was. If I stayed, if I let that fear get to me, I don’t know if I would still be here. He was abusive and scary and controlling. He shut me out from my family, he isolated me from my friends, and he financially controlled everything about my life. The abuse was escalating and I knew divorce/separation was my only out.

Divorce is a taboo. Divorce is not something to celebrate (although I did make cupcakes and have a kitchen dance party to celebrate moving out of my ex’s), but it is not something to avoid like the plague when it happens to someone you love. It may break up a home, but it does not break a person. My parents’ divorce molded me into a stronger person and it laid the path for me to be who I am today.

I believe that people can fall in love more than once. Lets be real — we all have said “I Love You” to more people than we ever meant it to — but I do believe that you can mean it to more than one person. I love my husband with my whole heart and he is BY FAR the best man I have ever known. But he is not the first man I ever loved, and that’s OK. The first guy I ever loved was not the man for me. Sure, he was a nice guy and I enjoyed our time together, and when it ended I was such a mess that my stepdad had to bring me chocolate and tell me I was pretty far more than I want to admit to on a public forum. But I got over it and I moved on. Relationships aren’t always meant to be forever, but the ones that aren’t teach us to appreciate the ones that are, and now I know without a doubt that my husband is my forever.

My parents divorce did not break me. It inspired me. It made me a better mother, a better lover, a better daughter, a better sister. Because of their divorce, I was blessed with two wonderful step-siblings and a half-brother. Our family would not be complete without them.

I am happily married. But if it weren’t for my parents’ divorce, I probably wouldn’t be. If my parents stayed together, I never would have seen what true love looks like. They raised me with love and they were great parents, but I never saw them be affectionate, and I never saw them be truly happy — until they both remarried. My dad married my stepmom and I finally saw him be happy and silly and have fun. I was also blessed with my stepbrother and stepsister. My mom married a man who I swore I would never like — (until said breakup earlier, and he brought me chocolate and told me I’m pretty.)940916_10156684939390564_2566017194365457262_n12439477_10156684939620564_4535849841776324280_n

In all seriousness, my stepfather taught me how to love and how to trust and how to be a parent on the really hard days. My parents had to love me, I was their daughter, but my stepfather chose to. He didn’t get to ease into things, he was tossed into it when I was at my worst state and he had to manage. My stepfather took me in when I was lost and scared and had a baby and nowhere to turn to. He has never turned his back on me, and if it weren’t for divorce, I would have never had him (or my baby brother).1236417_10153237841650564_1214824606_n

I don’t wish divorce upon anyone, but I also don’t want anyone to ever feel stuck or broken because of the fear that comes along with that dirty word. Divorce is not a bad thing, divorce is not the end. You only get a rainbow after the rain — and sometimes that rain is divorce.671f977d08a1c0a3365d25a8eb0f8ea3

XOXO, Shelby

Why my husband had a vasectomy

Obviously, he did it for the cupcakes… (Aren’t I an awesome wife?!)

No, but seriously. Let me start this off by saying: We love our children.

We have two beautiful babes – a four and a half year old daughter and a fifteen month old son. They are our pride and joy and we love being parents. There is not a better job in the world than being a mom. Part of that is due to the fact that my husband is the World’s Best Daddy. We did not jump to this surgery because we are in over our head or don’t want anymore kids. We do. We want more kids – just not biological. [Nothing against our DNA – we have some good genes ;).]

My husband had a vasectomy earlier this week and we are both happy about it. He is 25, I am 24. No — we aren’t going to change our minds. No — we won’t regret this. Yes — we thought this out, for fifteen months. We have a plan for our future and for our babies’ futures.

We want to adopt. We have a dream of adopting more babies into our family. Sean adopted our daughter when we got married. She had referred to him as “Daddy Sawn” since she was 18 months old and loved him as her own father (biological sperm donor was not in the picture, and Sean stepped up to the plate in every way). Before that, adoption didn’t play too big of a part in my life. (You want to ask me about step-, half-, or biological siblings though, I got ya covered!) Sean saved our family and made us whole when he adopted our daughter. Together, we had a son six months later, but if you didn’t know our story, you could never tell the difference between his bond with our kids. They are both HIS children. He loves them BOTH the same.12043217_10156613383135564_7992701639916414825_n

I don’t want to be pregnant again. I am not a woman who took my pregnancies for granted. I cherished every single moment of them, even the really hard stuff. My body is capable of some pretty amazing things and I am lucky enough to have had two healthy pregnancies that gave me two beautiful babies. (Lets be clear; LABOR is a totally different story!!) After we had my son though, I had some complications and our son ended up in the NICU. It was the scariest experience we have ever faced. We are lucky enough to have had two healthy babies, and after having our son, we decided then and there that we didn’t need to have anymore.940951_10156340850785564_8345762581738934693_n

We have a plan. Every couple, every family, every individual person has their own vision for their life. Sure, visions may change every once in awhile and we may end up somewhere totally opposite from where we thought we would. Our plan includes our two children – and no more biological babes. It might not be right for others, and it might be against some people’s beliefs, but this is our plan.12841343_10156613384640564_485276627218888903_o

We thought for a long time about this procedure. We researched. We planned. Finally, we bit the bullet and made the appointment. The few weeks leading up to it, I went to bed every night and asked myself, “Are you sure? Will you change your mind in five years and catch the Baby Fever bug and want another gremlin?” But each night my answers were the same. “I want this.” There seems to be a taboo around the word, vasectomy. We aren’t irresponsible people who don’t want to be parents or resent our life up to this point. This is simply a minor part of our big plan. We all add to our families, or don’t, in our own ways. Whether you choose to never have children, to have one or ten, or to adopt. We are choosing to adopt now.

I love my children, and I love being a mom. My biological incubator may be shut down, but this world hasn’t seen the last of the Shafer Babies yet!

XOXO, Shelby

 

I cheated.

Not in a physical manner. And not anytime recently. But before my husband – with my husband – for many years.

In my marriage, we are cheesy and romantic and we are best friends. (I know, vomit…) but we are – so deal with it. We share everything with each other and he is always my first call whenever anything big (or small) happens in my day.

But I haven’t always had relationships like that. Actually – before Sean, I never have. In any relationship I have been in since I was 15 years old – I never saw my significant other as my “person”. That’s because that is the year  I met my person; Sean. But it took us 7 years and many other failed relationships to end up together. In those seven years, I was in many relationships, all of which obviously failed. I could sit here and tell you all the faults of those boys and why it was their fault we didn’t work out – but 50% of that would be a lie. It never worked out because I wouldn’t let it. Sure, it had a lot to do with the guys who couldn’t grow up, the ones who couldn’t be faithful, and couldn’t treat me like a human being…but my heart was never fully in it. In each of those relationships, I always had two leading men; my boyfriend & Sean.

When you are really, truly happy in a relationship – you don’t go looking for attention, affection, sex, or happiness, from anybody else. Sean was always the guy who could make me happy. Just with a simple good morning text or a random phone call. He never expected anything in return and he never treated me like I was lesser than him. Not ever. Sean and I have never done anything I would feel embarrassed to admit to. We were never intimate or even shared our feelings for each other until we were both single and ready to start our life together. But secretly, he was always my “what if” guy. Anytime it got serious with someone else, I’d compare them to my best friend, Sean, and would have to decide if they could make me happy the same way Sean could if I ever gave him the chance.

When you find your person, they become the only person you need. As a spouse, it is part of our commitment to fulfill each other in all of those ways, even when there are hard times – we are here to understand, encourage, and fight for one another. It has been 3 years and I can honestly still say that I don’t regret closing my heart out to so many people. I never got over my “what if” guy – and it led me to immense happiness and the most wonderful marriage I have ever heard of.

We are not perfect, but our marriage is. Our marriage and our beliefs may not work for everyone, but they work for us. I love him more today than I ever have, but not as much as I ever will. The best is always ahead of us and we always continue to live by our own rules.

  • Never do or say anything you wouldn’t want your significant other to find out. Whether it is a sexual affair or not-so-innocent messages you are sending. Cheating is cheating. Mind, body, soul.
  • Never stop dating each other. Never stop doing the little things that you did before you were married.
  • Have sex. Not every day, not all the time. Healthy sex life makes for a healthy marriage!
  • EMBRACE THE SELFIE. My husband has learned to just smile when my phone comes out 🙂
  • Take vacations together. Go somewhere new each time or find one place you love and visit often.
  • Go out your way to make your spouse smile and laugh. Put their happiness as your priority.
  • Dance together. I am the worst dancer ever, but for some reason he still makes me dance. And I love it – sometimes.
  • Support one another – and each other’s sports teams. (Unless that means changing your own – in which case… friendly rivalries can be fun!)
  • COMMUNICATE. Say it with me – COM. MUN. I. CATE. Can’t express this enough!!! Communication is key in any relationship, at any level!

It took us ten years to get where we are today, but I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Thank you for being my person since day one. Thank you for loving me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. You annoy the fuck out of me sometimes, but you alone make me 200% happy. Thank you for this once in a lifetime love.

XOXO, Shelby