I went from being a kid in my parent’s house, to being a wife & mother within a year, I was 18. It never bothered me while I was growing babies, I was THRILLED to set aside myself (whoever that was) to provide warmth, space and love for a baby. My body is yours, sweet little one. I know I’ll get it back later. Plan A said “my mind belongs to you, who enjoys Barney and sleeps erratically. My personality is… a result of my mood and whatever entertains you, sweet little monkey of mine… There will be time for me later.” Now I wonder sometimes, if putting their needs ahead of my own was a bit of self-defense. Having never BEEN a woman alone, to sort out my own identity, it was easier to just be a mom. There were books about being a mom.
Perhaps I should have predicted that the decision to stop making babies would result in some kind of identity crisis, right?
Crisis is the wrong word, it sounds like a bad thing. I don’t feel like I’m in crisis. I feel like I’m an explorer, with a map in my hand, looking out at a great expanse of wilderness, knowing that wherever I step, a path will unfold in front of me and it will be MINE and it will take me somewhere amazing, because the world is filled with amazing and dammit, I want some.
For many many months now, I’ve looked at my family (kids and husband) as baggage. Explorers don’t have baggage. They forage, they meet new people along the way and share resources. They make spur-of-the-moment decisions, their lives are serendipitous, they embrace whatever comes their way, and they reach toward things that bring joy with the ultimate goal in mind, of adventure. The more I viewed the situation like this, the more clear it became to me that I’d need to separate myself from them. I’d planned several grand adventures this year and each one was cancelled before it started. It became clear that I was alone in this NEED TO EXPLORE and that was fine. The idea of being alone was riveting. Seriously- the most exciting thing I could imagine. I mean, I’d still BE a mom, but half the time they’d be at their Dad’s house. I’d be able to devote 50% of my time to doing whatever the hell I wanted. Oh yes, I want this, I decided. That was Plan B.
My husband was less than enthusiastic, though. He didn’t share my excitement about a potential divorce, and it really broke my heart to see him suffering. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years but he’s never tried to be hurtful. I wasn’t trying to hurt him. But he was hurt.
Not that I’m glad I hurt him, but I’m glad I was heard. As these thoughts were brewing over the past year, I dropped clues- as I learned about them. When I realized that the desire to travel was making me nuts, I told him so. It wasn’t effective, planning a bunch of trips that didn’t materialize but I made it clear that I needed to travel. When I realized I needed a break from the kids, I began insisting upon it, arranging for appointments with new clients away from home, coffee shop meetings, joining new clubs and volunteering to leave the house whenever I could, just.to.get.OUT. When I realized I just HAD to get a trapeze, he built me one. When I wanted to spend 6 hours a day hula hooping, eat nothing but fried foods, drink extra wine and start reading erotic literature, he knew something was “up.” But what he didn’t know was how difficult I found it to continue communicating my changing needs, or that I felt trapped by the life we’d created (and LOVED). That is, until I dumped him in exchange for an unknown life of freedom whereby I can do whatever the heck I want for 50% of the time. Then, he got it. As much as he could.
I don’t think he’s relating to the identity situation-that’s-not-a-crisis, but he is trying to keep us married, which is sweet. Originally, he was writing me notes on Facebook every day.
There are over million reasons why I love my wife. Those reasons are what makes Lisa so special to this world and her qualities I envy. For the next 90 days I will share with you these qualities that inspire my life and has made me the man I am today and the better man I will be tomorrow and I am sure will inspire yours.
Day 1. Her will for life in all it’s joy. She has enlightened my life by taking the path less traveled showing me the beauty and peace in nature.
You can imagine the comments he got, everyone thought it was so sweet (and it was) but to me, the pressure was too much. The next day, he posted this:
Day 2. She has a way with words. Her blogs and stories have not only captivated thousands of people through the years but through extensive research and practice she has made our household something unique and special and made our family bond stronger than steel.
And I thought my head would go through the roof. How can I assert my independence when a lifetime of friends and family are literally watching this unfold like a soap opera? Having our personal drama unfolding in front of people was just too much for me.
I got him to keep the notes private, and he started delivering them in an envelope each day, along with a rose or a box of chocolates.
He took me out to dinner so we could talk, and convinced me to go to counseling with him. The entire way out to dinner, I swore to myself “I’m not letting him talk me into anything” but that night, when he came home with me it just felt right.
On the way to counseling, I swore “I’m only doing this to help him with the transition” but when she said “This is a new chapter in your marriage,” it kind of made sense. If we’re writing our own lives, certainly there can be a chapter where I figure out who I am and he watches the kids, without the expense of two residences, right? If I can just clarify what it is that I want, whatever it is that I need, then we can make it happen, right?
In Washington State, it takes 90 days for a divorce to become “final.” there’s a waiting period of 90 days and when he and I sat down to dinner, he made it his goal to spend the next 90 days sweeping me off my feet.
I have to admit, it’s working.
I realize it might sound like bullshit when I say I don’t share much on my blog. Years and years and years of posts don’t ever really discuss my private thoughts about my marriage, so publishing this has weighed heavily on me. It’s so much easier to discuss child development, psychology, bash the government, make fun of public schools and report on my own mental condition when the pressure to say SOMETHING gets too great.
So maybe this is me trying something new on, seeing if it’s “me” or not. Maybe I’m just avoiding the emails from people who honestly (and thank you) want to know how my marriage is (since the whole Facebook drama) and maybe I’m just embracing some inner drama-queen. Who knows?
I just know it’s easier to write a blog post than it is to respond to a bunch of email inquiries. It’s nothing personal, it’s lazy. But it helps me focus my time where it needs to be, which is on these munchkins who change on a daily basis and the house that gets messy on a daily basis and my school assignments (increasingly fun- I’m taking a course on Literature this month) and my friends (who amaze me, excite me and inspire me every day)
So the short answer is “We’re fine” and the longer answer is “We’re writing a new chapter in our lives, it’s the one where I get to focus on getting to know myself and he takes me out on fabulous dates.”
I think we’ll be OK.