How Did I Get Here

The Evolution of The Band Wife Blog, part 1

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How did I get here? A question I ask myself daily. I look in the mirror and think “dang, life, what have you done!?” I have done a lot, and it is tiring to think about how far I have come. When I was younger, when my children were younger, I would try so hard to “find myself”, I would endlessly look for something to do, something to give me a label other than mother and wife. I was never much of a crafter, or a baker, I never had a niche, something I could call my own. I was drowning in my children and my husband’s lives and I felt I was losing more of myself by the second.  On top of that there is so much pressure as a mother, wife, woman to do more. My house should be clean, you should spend more time volunteering, make sure to spend time with your friends, and for heaven’s sake: work out and lose weight! I was always on a mission to look good, feel good, and be good. But wait: was I not good already?! Apparently not, and anything I tried to do seemed juvenile, and an immature attempt to be an adult. These were all things I would fail at, I was always known for starting something I never could finish, I never finished college (I barely started), I never finished all those scrap books I was supposed to do, at one point I even started training to be a doula, it was absurd how hard I was trying, and failing. It was New Year’s Eve a couple years ago I realized I hadn’t made my resolution, you know the same one every year: I am going to go to church every Sunday and be a better catholic, I am going to lose weight and be healthier, I am going to be a better mother and wife and save money this year, and IT’S GOING TO BE MY YEAR!!! That was my year, just not the way I usually did things. I made one resolution, one single vow to myself: I called it the “I don’t wanna” resolution. I decided that if I tried to do any of those old things when I really didn’t want to I wouldn’t make an excuse, I wouldn’t try to force myself, I would just say, “you know what, I don’t wanna… so I am not gonna” if anyone tried to give me advice for my excuses, I was going to be brutally honest and say: “nah, I just didn’t want to” this was the only resolution that stuck, and the only one that I would ever need again. I stripped all those expectations away, all the stress because we are just setting ourselves up for failure and once I did that, it was when I found my true self. I never lost it, it was always there but it gets so buried deep under our own expectations, it’s not the kids or the spouse. It’s not the job or the adulating. It’s the pressures we put on ourselves to be someone. That was when I sat quietly and understood that life was fun and in that glorious first year was when I started to mature. I knew then that I was no longer a child, I was no longer pretending to adult but I was just here and I was just me and that was enough. And that is the start of how I got here.

Our expectations of keeping up with everyone around us is hurting us and our relationships with others. I read so many posts and see so much attitude about how we only post the good things which makes us seem perfect, social networking is where we can control our image so then the rest of us have to pretend to keep up.  I understand that this is common, for people to flash their little happy families, all their successes and the great things in their lives. Are they not supposed to?  Though the hash tag “blessed” annoys the piss out of me, I would rather see all this than people’s dirty laundry, they are just keeping it classy, they are choosing to share with everyone the ups in their lives, and this really makes them to blame? Maybe it is time we take the blame for always trying to keep up with everyone around us. This is how I feel about “mommy blogs”. Honestly, I am kind of getting sick of reading the same blog over and over about how to make your own natural diaper rash creams and “fun slime to make with your kids.”  I am sick of reading about how to get organized in life, and how to stop yelling at them to hang up their towels for the umpteenth hundredth time in one week, how you shouldn’t flip your goddamned lid because even after telling them for the umpteenth time you have to pick up their towels for them. I am tired being told to be more of a patient spouse and how if I spend more time catering to his needs it will make me a happier wife. Why? Because I am going to read it, feel terrible because I like to set my life bar real low (like really, really, low). So, after I read these, then realize I am doing life all wrong, reconstruct my life to get better at it, then fail within the same day and feel even worse about my situation. This is the cycle of a modern-day woman. If we strip the nonsense from our lives, our own expectations and excuses, we are left with only ourselves, then we can focus on what we need, we can start to really enjoy life. That is how I took a year off. Did I lose any weight, save any more money, or make it to church any more? Did my life become any more organized? No, I didn’t, but I realize I am good enough, all on my own, and I quit stressing about the crap. I grew more in that year than I had in the rest of my adulthood, I sat back, enjoyed my job, my husband, my children, my life and found myself by doing nothing at all. But how did I get here, to The Band Wife Life Blog? Give me a week to gather some more words and mesmerize you all with more bull shit, I’ll get back with you.

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Me, not giving a duck about what my own expectations are, happy as a clam, chill as a cucumber,

Candle Slights and Nose Pedals

This Ain’t Your Grandma’s Date Night.

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Our first date was pretty awesome, I had to pick him up in my 1989 white Buick Century because he didn’t have his driver’s license yet, I was his night and shining armor with my ‘white stallion’ (his words). He brought me flowers, white roses and Queen Anne’s lace (my favorite). We saw the original Ice Age in the theater (yes, we are that old), then we went out to dinner at Bennigan’s, where he spilled his drink all over himself. I was so elated this happened because I was usually the one making a mess and a fool, it was like he was taking one for the team. After we went and shot some pool, which I am terrible at and don’t really like, but it was something to do together. We liked being together right away, we enjoyed each others company. On the way home, we sang the whole soundtrack to the Mel Brooks film, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, a cappella. It was, for the most part, a generic date, it was just dinner and a movie, neither of us planned a spectacle or spectacular, but I guess that was part of the appeal. I am not a romantic, I don’t need some gesture or any grander to be swooned. We laughed a lot, we quoted movies, and sang stupid songs and were at total ease together. It just fit and I remember feeling that ‘ah’ moment, thinking, so this is what it’s supposed to be like. It really doesn’t matter where you go or what you’re doing, it is always about the person you’re with, the quality of the company.

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Our first date chariot, she was a beaut! 

When you are a band wife, you are on the go, you see a lot of places and do a lot of things. The Husband and I are always going out, we have been to restaurants, bars, bowling allies, venues, and so much more together. Of course, it is always a good time when we are together, but these are never a date night, he is always playing, schmoozing, and there is always a crowd around us and usually music so loud we must shout to be heard. Home is no different, we are always having a good time together but he is always practicing, we are schmoozing over our phones, and the kids are always around us (why are they always there, they never leave?!) and we are shouting over them to be heard. So, when the opportunity arises, like last night when all the stars aligned: I got out of work at a decent hour, he didn’t have practice, and it’s the kids’ spring break so they went north with Grandma. It was fated.

Did we go out and live it up? Not a chance, he is in a band, we do that all the time. We pulled a London broil out that morning and I made sure the kitchen was clean when he got home so we could cook a nice quiet dinner together. I love cooking with him, it’s one of those times when our hands are too busy for our phones and we can make a good connection; and it reminds me of how awesome it is to be married to a man that can cook better than me. I made a kick ass avocado salad to go with it and some french fries, a weird combo but it was all so damn good, and even better in the morning all fried up together with some eggs and toast (I will leave the recipe at the bottom for the salad, the fries and broil, your on your own, or you can ask The Husband the next time you see him).  We cracked open a few beers, and hung out, just us two. We did three of our favorite things together: food, laughing, and a little drinking. We decided we wanted some snacks and a movie but we had none (someone is a snackaholic in our house so it’s hard to keep them around… alright, it’s me) so we ran to our neighborhood Dollar General and giggled through the isles while we raided their shelves of Little Debbie’s, Twinkies Ice Cream, and popcorn. I am sure the cashier thought we were shopping for “art supplies” as well, but we don’t need any of the devils lettuce to make us this ridiculous, we are just naturally this cool. We headed home with our feast and curled up on the couch for more laughing with The Lonely Island Boys’ Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special and a coffee table buffet of goodies. It was, once again, a perfect date. Just me, him, and waking up the next morning sore… from laughing, people, don’t be pervy (but seriously, that movie is that funny, if you haven’t watched it yet, get on The ‘Flix and do so)!

I like to think of myself as low maintenance, just give me some food, drinks, and make me laugh. Luckily, I have found the perfect companion for such, and I am a perfect companion for him because when you settle down with a musician your life is guaranteed to be a decent shit show. Band wives don’t have time to be high maintenance, so we take the time we can get with our musical interests and learn to be resourceful with what we are granted. I don’t ask for much, just good company… and food, and drinks. My secret to life.

As for my super easy avocado salad: it’s just 4 or 5 avocados, 4 or 5 tomatoes, 1/2 of a large red onion, juice of one lemon, a drizzle of red wine vinegar, and garlic salt and pepper to taste. Don’t let this fool you, I am by no means a good cook, just a hack job that has an amazing husband that can cook my pants off.

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Looks good, doesn’t it? Oh, and aren’t those guitar spoons bitchin’? We got them as a gift from a friend of ours, but if you think the musician in your life needs some you can get your pair of rockin’ spoons right here:

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Stitches

How to fail at all your good intentions.

I am possibly the worst person when it comes to time management. I stay up all night watching Netflix, then I am too tired to get up at a decent hour in the morning and rush around to get to work. I lay in bed after I get out of work for an hour just staring at my phone before my kids get home when I could be productive. I hang out and do nothing all afternoon until minutes before the husband gets home then rush around to make some dinner (maybe) and do the dishes. Okay, maybe I am just lazy, but to quote Augusten Burroughs’ book, Magical Thinking: stitch-269722_960_720_LIWhen it comes to the band wife life, much like most other busy lifestyles, time management needs to be your friend. I, my friends, am my own worst enemy. I am still working on getting priorities in order, let alone managing the time I do not ever have enough of.

I try to prioritize The Husbands’ shows, especially now that they are going to tour soon, and I won’t be able to make it to any of those. So I try to get in as many local ones as I can now but really, it isn’t an easy task. Between babysitters, money, and just not having the damned time. Tonight, I made the kids my priority. I have been working crazy hours and today was no exception, after an eleven-hour work day I was in no shape to be going out, I haven’t seen my kids in over twelve hours, and I wasn’t about to ask my mom who had them since after school if she could work over time babysitting so I could run out to see The Husband play. Sometimes that is appropriate, but this was not the time for that. It is so hard sometimes, feeling like you’re being pulled in all directions. You try to be a good parent, a supportive spouse, a stellar employee; but, dang guys, there is only one of me! There are so many times when priorities and time management are not my game. last night I said screw it to going out and I took my babies home, we did some chores, made a quiche for breakfast in the morning, and played a quick game of Trivial Pursuit (my favorite).  I set the coffee pot for the morning so I can get up early and get this post published for all my adoring fans awaiting my next in-depth thoughts and exciting life. Now that the kids are asleep I sit typing feverishly (because I didn’t use my time wisely to write at all this week) while watching live video of the husband playing (thank you, awesome technology and friends/band fans).

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A favorite way to spend our evenings. If you look close, they are pink, I am green, they killed it (in my defense it is the young players edition, wait, that isn’t helping)!     

We have at least figured out how to prioritize which shows I go see. The husbands band is a double threat, they play covers and originals. Being that cover shows are mainly for more money to fund the band and down time, they are not as exciting (we are talking four hours of them on stage, and everyone is just sitting around eating and getting drunk, so… they are kind of boring) nor is it as important for me to go. I don’t even get to see the husband on these nights anyways because the whole night is taking up with him playing. Where original shows they usually get about thirty to forty-five minutes of stage time before the next band gets up and it is more important they bring a crowed to these ones. So, I go to the original shows more than covers. I also have a very convenient work schedule where I go in later on Fridays (hello Friday morning coffee and blogging) being that a lot of their shows are on Thursdays this comes in handy (when I am not working eleven or twelve hours). It will become more convenient when the children are out of school so I don’t have to worry about getting them to school the next morning.

So, yeah, welcome to my crazy ass life. I think everyone has their own way of juggling, I am still figuring this out; but hey, speaking of time management tonight I got all my chores done and then some so we can have time in the morning together, yay me! But to be honest, it might also be that I found a dead mouse in my sink when I got home, after walking in the door and being hit in the face with a smell so pungent I could no longer deny the house work, so the kids and I went on a sniff hunt. Either way, it all gets done, everything will always get done one way or another and I wont miss out on any of the fun when I remind myself to try to sit back and enjoy the ride, where ever it takes me.

Money for Nothing

How I had a whole night out on a twenty dollar bill.

Sometimes, you just gotta have a balls to the wall, top shelf drinks, new outfit, new hair, kind of night. You need to live like a king, keep the drinks a’flowing, and order the steak and sushi. These nights usually have a plan, your legs are shaved, your eyebrows are plucked and you had been practicing your winged look for weeks in advance. When you are a family woman, you’ve probably budgeted to make sure your night can go accordingly. Last week was not that kind of night. A last-minute show and a last-minute decision to throw caution to the wind and go along for the ride was something we hadn’t budgeted for; yet, in this case, we didn’t need to. Which makes it just as good of a night. I am a cheapskate, I hate spending money and I can tell you that the balls to the wall nights don’t happen often and when they do they are heavily soaked in that good ol’ Irish guilt my grandmother blessed me with. That is why a night like last weekend doesn’t deserve only bragging about but a whole blog post dedicated to another perk of being a band wife, how we rocked last weekend’s budget, and the how’s of saving money as a band wife (at least for one night).

It was about two o’clock, the day of. My mother had already said she would be able to take the kids that night, but there were so many ‘I don’t know’s involved. We really didn’t have a budget that week for going out, the kids had there catechism in the morning. We went round and round about if it was a good idea to go. But at the end I decided that it is only eight bucks to get in and that was all I needed. We were carpooling so that was a bonus, we didn’t have to drive. So on the way we pulled into a gas station where I pulled just one twenty out of the ATM (eight to get in, maybe a drink or two, depending on how expensive this place was). Then we were on our way. Here comes rule number one (this isn’t every place but there are some very awesome venues that will let you get away with this): if you go in the back with the guys, carry in an amp or two, set up the merch, they just may consider you “support staff”. This was one of those special venues. After they called all the bands and “support staff” to check IDs and get our wristbands, I took my newly acclaimed twenty-dollar bill and hoofed it to the bar. Rule number two: Don’t be picky. When the fabulous bar tendress asked me what I would like, the only words out of my mouth were, “what’s your cheapest?” and wouldn’t you know, two dollar beers all night! Let’s recap: so far free ride to venue, free rocking out all for the price of selling their merch and doing a little bit of heavy lifting, and about half of what I brought in drinks because I am not picky and asked. Now, the last thing on my list is food, we all get a little hungry after the calorie burning rockin’ out and all those drinks. Then it’s just picking a place, it was too late for a cheap run to Taco Bell or McD’s but the gas station down the road is open all night, so our ritual stale cheddar and beef subs were what was on the menu!

This concludes my twenty-dollar night. Being with a musician is expensive, their toys will cost more than anything you buy, your nights out will be plenty, and travel isn’t cheap. There is always a silver lining, though and I can find a silver lining and a bargain in anything. So when the band wife life gets a little stressful, you can always look forward to a cheap, fun night to blow off a little steam.

 

Cats in the Cradle

Keeping your kids from feeling the heat.

Can I let you guys in on a little secret: Being a band wife can really suck sometimes. I may be getting a little salty again but I just found out that The Husband will be out of town the same weekend as The Daughters ballet recital, this recital is always poorly timed with The Husbands band schedule. Last year he made it there by the skin of his teeth, the night before the band left to go up north to play a marathon that started way earlier than anyone sane would get out of bed for a smoke and a pancake, let alone a run. Apparently, you need entertainment when you run also, so they make the entertainer get up even earlier. He got home just in time to shower and meet us at the auditorium to watch The Daughter dance. Unfortunately, this was our first pony show and we hadn’t realized it was a two-hour phantasmagoria full of uncoordinated tumbles and plie’s, The husband slept through all of it. I nudged him awake long enough to see the two minutes The daughter was actually on stage, then he was back to snoring. We even sat in the balcony seats alone, so he wasn’t being a disturbance; I have learned from previous encounters with the sleeping beast (sitting front and center at our early Saturday morning marriage class was a terrible idea, older and wiser now).

I have a million stories like this, our first wedding anniversary, the first time our son went over night to aunties, was celebrated at a porch party… where he had to play all night. Our third was spent in the cockroach motel for two nights attached to the bar he played at for those two nights (it was ‘all inclusive’ in a small up north town, population: 103). He’s missed parties, weddings, sports events, the list goes on and on. Cats in the Cradle makes him cry now. But I can’t complain, I won’t complain (I know, I know, I just did).  I get the security of knowing he will come home safe, that it’s his choice and we have the security of knowing and trusting he would choose not to plan on big event nights. This isn’t their graduation and he was there for their births and baptisms. There are a lot of spouses out there that don’t have these luxuries or choices. Also, I know at the end of every day he is dedicated to his family, we at least get a phone call or text, and I know he is able to do what he loves, and do it not only for himself but for us.

We broke the news to The Daughter over pizza, to soften the blow. She went into a “Oh, sure, you want to go to your band more than you want to see your only daughter in ballet” then we all sang that dreaded song together, silver spoons and such, then had a good laugh. No, seriously, that actually happened. You see, I know that it isn’t perfect and The Husband can’t be there for everything, the kids don’t like it, I don’t like it, and he doesn’t like it, but we make it work. I lay in bed writing and I can hear the giggles coming from the living room, our babies wrestling with Dad. I know that yes, it is hard when he is gone but when he is here, he is fully here and such a huge part of our lives. I have learned to make it work and there are things we do to keep the kids, and our, attitudes positive.

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Though he doesn’t make it to all their events, he makes it to most. He has never missed a Daddy/Daughter dance. This picture, though…  

No matter how frustrated I get I never let even a grumble slip from my lips (in front of the kids, at least). I support The Husband with or without the children. When I talk positive, I feel positive. When our children hear me praising their father, not complaining about his absenteeism, they will grow up knowing that even though their father wasn’t always physically there, he was always with us. We take the kids to shows. I have an “outside” rule, the kids can come to the outside shows: fairs and festivals (all ages obviously). I did take them to an indoor venue once but it was so loud and dark and I can be a nervous mom, it didn’t go well. When they can see what we do they can take pride in their parents, they know how much work Dad puts into this and they can look up to him. When we can’t get to a show, I always try to give them something to look forward to even if it is a ‘sister/cousin’ sleep over or they get to share my bed and Netflix with me all night. Obviously we instill our love for music in our children also, so they can understand what Dad is doing is really cool. Luckily we have an amazing support system with grandparents, aunts and uncles who all live close by also. They all love what we are doing and help out when needed. All these things we do and the help and support we get keep us well rounded and grounded, makes our marriage stronger, and gives our children a healthy and happy childhood.

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The kids supporting Dad, this would be the only indoor event they attended. They were excited but by the end there were tears, “I want to go, its too loud”s and I was a nervous wreck worrying about their safety. We will stick to the outdoor events in daylight. 

Isn’t She Lovely

Random thoughts on genetics

I am at our daughters Honors Choir rehearsals where in the five hours she is here today (a forty-minute drive from home) I promised myself I would get this blog done (mainly because it is the only time I am going to get alone where I can write). I have pulled out, and put away my lap top about ten times already and they are half way through. I cannot think of anything to write about except the overwhelming feeling of joy watching my girl sing her heart out. So here I sit now, in a dark auditorium balcony typing vigorously, with the background music of one hundred-plus beautifully talented third and fourth graders making memories and learning, learning, learning. Our daughter got a lot from her father, her beautiful olive skin tone, dark eyes and hair to match, her stubborn, take no crap attitude, and her incredible sponge like memory for music and beautiful voice. I really hit the jack pot when picking a mate to breed with. One of the biggest blessing of paring with a musician is the chance of having your children inherit their amazing musical talent. The Husband inherited his from his parents who were in a band while he was growing up. Me on the other hand, I did inherit my grandmother’s turnip nose and opaque Irish skin, but definitely not my grandfather’s musical talent. I like to sing, but really don’t have much of a quality talent for it. My voice is much better written and I have no patience for picking up an instrument. You can tell that with our love for music and the husbands talent it sure has rubbed off.

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My beautiful ballerina

Things that I love about my kids is that they have completely different tastes in music already, our son likes it heavy like his dad, and as for the daughter, she likes to dance, like her mother. For Christmas, this year their grandma got them headphones, so we bought them SD cards to download music on (and you could slip them right in the headphones, technology is so cool, but I am tech illiterate so these things still amaze me). They love them and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them become their own, they have surprised me by how different their music taste has evolved. They took different paths to get their music. The Son went straight to Dad, and surprisingly his three top favorite songs aren’t as heavy as I expected (I know because he doesn’t think he is singing them over top the blaring headphones for everyone to hear) his favorites are: Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne, 1985 by Bowling for Soup, and Calling You by Blue October. The Daughter got into Grandpa’s stash, full of smooth classic hits, she is a big fan of The Carpenters now. They truly are opposites.

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Just a boy and his hero.

None the less I see them both enjoy music in their own ways. The Daughter involves herself in music and dance, much like her mother did through childhood. She loves being part of a group, learning it always. She is my choir bug, but isn’t as musical at home but loves her structured ballet and choir concerts. The Son, like his cool rebel father, loves absorbing pop culture, figuring out bands, and learning different genres, he is all willy-nilly with his music, loves singing and listening by himself and an unstructured way of learning. It surprises me because when it comes to anything else in their life, this is opposite. The Son needs neat structure in school, his room is always more tidied and organized; and The Daughter is all over the place, messy room, and loud clothing. Genetics and development are so weird, but so cool. Obviously, we are not living unless we have music in our souls and there are different types of ways we absorb it but it is amazing to watch our babies grow with music surrounding them.

Broad-Shouldered Beasts

When support becomes a make or break in a marriage.

The other night while lying in bed The Husband and I were talking band business and I told him I was his biggest fan. He rebutted that statement, there is another guy that fills that spot. I said that I was, indeed, not the bands biggest fan (though I may be a runner up) but I was his biggest fan. I am sure like most spouses (band or not) you are going to be their biggest supporter, you should be their biggest supporter. This is one of the most important parts of a marriage to keep it strong. Yet, with a stifling divorce rate and an even higher one for couples in the entertainment business, you start to ask how one keeps a union rich when most of the time you feel like two ships passing in the night. I am no expert, but after fifteen years together I can tell you how we have made it work so far.

Of course, that is support. Supporting your spouse goes a little further than just a pat on the back, it’s a start but it might not be enough glue to keep it together. There was a point in our lives when I wasn’t his number one fan, a few bands ago.  It started when I was pregnant with our first and they had pretty good traction throughout our children’s toddler years. I wasn’t necessarily unsupportive, I didn’t discourage it, but I honestly could care less about the band. I had a hard-enough time caring about how he was doing in the band. Harsh, I know, but we were raising two toddlers, I was worn out, and had no time for myself, let alone my husband’s hobby. I look back and remember that weak pat on the back, and the fake smile while mumbling “That’s cool, Babe”. I don’t know if it started with me distancing myself from him or he from me, but somewhere along the lines we started to neglect each other.

My husband is not conceded nor egotistical enough to be bothered by the fact that I couldn’t give him the support he deserved, but I can look back and know now that it wore on our relationship. Some of his greatest achievements were being unnoticed by the most important person in his life. We went through some very hard years during and after that, faced with unemployment, financial struggles, and family tragedy, it was all a breeding ground for resentment. It wasn’t all because we stopped supporting each other but we almost weren’t strong enough to get through those hardest of times together because we had years of neglect that had weakened our bond. Then the point hit where we needed to make changes or loose each other for good.

That is when I learned that being a musician is not just a hobby, it is their life, it is a deep passion that comes from within. It is the reason they can be so damn appealing, and is the reason they can be so damn difficult. It took me a long time to realize this. To realize that music is not something they can leave on the road, or in the band room. It is something they want to share with you, and as a spouse why would you not want to be proud of everything they are doing? And, of course, it goes both ways, if it weren’t for The Husband I wouldn’t be writing out loud, we both push each other and celebrate together. After years of repair we have found ourselves at our best, which has put our marriage at its best. That is how we found each other again, once I started celebrating The Husband, and he did me, we became better people which made us see what we saw all those years back when we first fell in love. The best part of a marriage is that you don’t have to go alone, you have a lifelong fan, someone to relish with and someone to pick you up when you feel a little less than. I no longer worry when he is away, find myself questioning our future, or feel lonely and unsure. We now find time to talk every day and we genuinely get excited for each other’s accomplishments. I am the first to share his glories and Facebook posts, he is the first to read my blogs (and promise to give his honest opinion every week). I am sure this can be relatable for all relationships but my experience as a band wife supporting each other has brought us closer and taken us farther than we could have ever done alone.