Kristina Kotlus

The experts say that there are a few key stressors in a marriage that you should try to avoid doing all at once.

You’re supposed to be better off spreading out highly stressful life events so that you don’t overwhelm your relationship. Obviously this is sometimes impossible as things like illness and death aren’t exactly something that you RSVP for and block off time in your iCal app. 

Others, though, are certainly choices. Never one to take a lesson I didn’t learn myself, however, our first year of marriage included a wedding, moving into a shared residence, a baby, a move from Massachusetts to Virginia, a college transfer and a new job at a new company all within the span of 10 months. 

My husband, Austin, and I like to joke that if we could survive that, we could survive anything.  Except, potentially, my lack of concern over which direction the toilet paper hangs.  The jury is still out on whether that is a total deal breaker or not. 

Fast forward a decade, and this was another year where we tried to pack in as much stress as possible.  I had 16 hours of brain surgery, six weeks of radiation therapy in another state, we sold our home, bought a new home and undertook a giant renovation project, all on top of homeschooling our children, running a charity event, and there’s something else I was supposed to be doing -- but I can’t remember right now…

Oh! The laundry.  I was supposed to do the laundry. 

Whoops.

Family life ebbs and flows, just like everything else.  There are periods of intense drama and emotion, and there are periods of calm and peace. This year for us has been a little more white water and a little less bubbling brook, but I feel like that just makes us cling a little firmer to each other as a family.  Our children, a daughter now age six and boys ages eight and 10 years old, had to deal with a lot while I was sick.  While it was incredibly difficult to be away from them, it was also tremendously comforting to see how family, friends and even acquaintances helped them to thrive in my absence. 

Getting back to “normal” life after such a tumultuous year has made me appreciate the little things I do even more.  It’s the in-between times that really make life amazing, and I feel like that’s right where I am. The parks, the baseball games, the weekend 6 a.m. hockey, all of that time is so precious, and I’m glad that I get to share it with my family, and in the coming months, with you.  Life as we shuttle our families from sports to scouts to supper is the completely ordinary kind of amazing that ties us all together, and frequently keeps us in stitches of laughter along the way.  I hope you’ll enjoy the ride as much as I do.

Kristina Schnack Kotlus is the voice behind PwcMoms.com, a local resource for families.  When she’s not running her three children to activities, she enjoys volunteer work, reading -- especially about religion, writing, and trying to figure out what she’s going to be when she grows up.  

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