“Jessica, What’s happening with the dating thing?”

This is a question I seem to get frequently — and, I’ve been pretty clear here in this blog that such a topic is outside the scope of these 500 words. ūüôā ¬†But it brings up a point I’ve been thinking about quite a bit and actually watching with my friends who are in long-term¬†relationships.

Look, we are generally getting to that stage where our kids are getting older and our relationships¬†are getting longer and inevitably getting a bit less exciting. ¬†Which means that lately¬†I’ve seen some friends decide that their current “situation” is no longer the right situation and I’ve seen some friends decide that they will stick with their “situation” even in times of significant trials. ¬†What gives? What makes one work and one not. Inquiring minds want to know. What’s the secret sauce?

In listening to my close friends I’ve come up with a few common themes. I think they go with any relationship – and there many¬†kinds of important relationships – so, who can’t use a tip or two?

  1. Great relationships are realistic. There will be days, months and years where the imperfections of our partners are in the fore. And being realistic about those imperfections (and admitting that we have them too) is the only way to keep a relationship healthy. We should idolize our partner, but remember they really are human.
  2. Real partners say they are sorry.  It is not and should not be the hardest word.
  3. Respectful partners argue but argue gently. It’s not whether we¬†argue (we will). It’s how we¬†argue. I was once in a relationship where someone would call me some pretty brutal names during an argument. I completely lost respect for him. Don’t do it. Your relationship days¬†will be dark and numbered.
  4. Long standing relationships seem to have partners that show their appreciation. People in happy marriages feel appreciated, loved, and respected. My feeling is we can never go wrong when we tell our partners what we love about them.
  5. My favorite partnerships are those where the partners laugh together. Couples who laugh together and regularly reminisce about funny times tend to be much more satisfied with their relationships.
  6. The best ones (in my humble opinion) are selfless. I see more relationships end because of selfishness than any other reason. Surveys blame it on finances, lack of commitment, infidelity, or incompatibility, but the root cause for these reasons is selfishness. A selfish person is committed only to himself or herself, shows little patience, and never learns how to be a successful partner. End of story.

It is a simple proposition to¬†value our relationships, treat them with great care, and invest into them daily. I’m talking¬†ALL relationships.¬†Being in one requires nearly every bit of ourselves,¬†but it’s so worth it. After all, happy and healthy relationships¬†are¬†far more valuable than most of temporary things we chase after every day of our lives. And they last forever.


One carpet cleaner, three hotels, five schools and a partridge in a pear tree.

Life happens. It happens when you expect it and when you least expect it. Although I have a year left, I’m already sad about my guys leaving. I miss my daughter but am having the most amazing time with my boys. I can’t complain one bit – not even when I have to cancel a well planned trip.

As some of you know, it’s no easy feat to schedule these college visits. You try to fit as much in as you can, missing the least amount of school and spending the least amount of time in a car. We were heading east. My guys haven’t been to any schools out east and they are (sadly ūüôā ) a possibility for one or both. So I got it all set. Six schools – five after flying to Boston – and then a trip to U Penn. We were excited!

So, I got it all arranged: tours at three schools in Boston (and two with my second daughter showing us around).  Two different hotels and a car. Then a flight to Philly and car, a hotel and a tour.  Seriously, took me a day to plan.

Cue – Life.

Packing at the last minute the night before our trip – one of the boys isn’t hungry. He goes to bed early and I think to myself – “He’s going to get sick.” ¬†Sure enough, it’s midnight and the poor kid comes upstairs to tell me that he threw up and couldn’t make it to the bathroom. Good lord.

Yup the norovirus. Super brutal and after being up with him all night, I got him to sleep in the guest room, called the carpet cleaner and started cancelling all the hotels, flights, cars, etc. The other, totally panicked that he would get sick, seemed to find ways to be out of the house for about two days. And when home – spent most of it in his room. I can hardly blame him.

As could be expected, I joined my blond boy two days later but thankfully he was on the mend and I was not going to get as sick as he did. So, here we are – supposed to be on our flight to Philly right now and instead we are finally standing in front of the fridge 4 days later trying to decide if we can find just one thing that sounds good to our still slightly queasy stomachs.

Life. It hits you when you least expect it. But I can’t complain. It’s another chance for me to be a mom. (love)

Wash your hands my friends. ūüôā


You will be (as was I) surprised by his choice.

I keep 4 or 5 different types of gift cards in my car at any one time (so if you want to break in, you’ll now know what’s there!). I always have a number of fresh fast food gift cards and usually some for coffee shops. I give them away when I see people on my way to and from work. Last week I saw three guys sitting on a corner. No signs asking for money. Just sitting there with all their life belongings, listening to a radio. I pulled over and asked if they would have any interest in a Subway gift card. They looked up and came to the car. I pulled out the others, Chipotle, Five Guys, and Jimmy John’s. Then at the last moment I realized I had a couple of Caribou cards. The first two guys immediately took food cards. The third guy stood there for what seemed like forever – as if he couldn’t decide. I asked him what he was thinking and he shared this story:

Yes, he needs food and that card would be the right choice. But the coffee gift card reminded him of his love for coffee. Not the actual coffee but the smell. He told me that when he was a kid, his mom would make a cup of coffee every morning and he would sit on her lap while she drank it and read the paper. She had a smell about her that he’s never forgotten but can’t find anywhere else.

I was stunned. I wanted to hug him but of course, I couldn’t. I gave him a food card and a coffee card – then I gave his other two friends additional cards (having kids makes me want to be fair when I can!).

I cried all the way to work.

What a reminder that we cannot judge what we see on the outside as having anything to do with what’s on the inside. He had a life. A mother. Her lap. Her smell. And the most beautiful memories. Now he lives on the street. With those things as only memories. Yet, despite the outside part of his existance, his inside has remained as soft as ever.

That I never, not for one moment, thought about what was on the inside, makes me sad. Clearly, I’ve been missing a lot.

While helping with the outside stuff is critically important, we have to remember that outside appearances or life choices are not always indicative of what’s on the inside.

Look around. We are judging at every turn right now. It was a cold hard reminder to me that I judge too and I need to stop.

I will remember him for the rest of my life. Just as he has the wonderful memories of his mother, her lap, the paper and her coffee.

With joy comes sadness but enlightenment. I guess we need all three.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend.