Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lady of the House

One of my boys has become quite taken with telling me who is “A Lady” and who is “A Man” and who is “A Baby” and who is “A Big Boy”. I will let you guess which one he thinks he is.

The older I get the more I realize that I should not judge. The whole not judging “until you have walked a mile in someone’s mocassins” thing has bit me on the ass, oh so very many times. I gag at the idea of someone else’s sweaty mocassins, therefore I am going to try for a WHOLE WEEK to not judge anyone.

No one, not even you, Mr. IP address from Great Britain who keeps coming here looking for “naked pregnant spanking pictures”. (Already this not judging thing is going to be harder than I thought you limey perv! Damn you!)

I have said before how parenting has brought me down so many notches. I wasn’t going to use pacifiers, and I was going to exclusively breastfeed, and we weren’t going to let our kids watch TV except for PBS, and I was never going to yell or swear, or have tons of plastic toys cluttering up my life. And now all I can say is ha, ha, HA! Because my kids have had to have their pacifiers confiscated and hidden in another zip code, I couldn’t breastfeed beyond 6 weeks, my kids are addicted to Playhouse Disney, I yell often, and I have considered using a (tasteful and elegant of course) dumpster for my daily gathering of small plastic crap that accumulates in the living room.

For anyone keeping score that means that the only thing I am still doing right is not swearing in front of the kids. Ahem

But aside from parenting, I was the worst “judger” about other people’s relationships. I watched how other couples worked and mentally listed all of the things I thought they did wrong, and the things I thought they did right, and over time I had a very definite mental list about what I thought was “Right” and what was “Wrong” with relationships and people in general. And then I got married, and realized how deep and thick the situation can be when there are real feelings and situations that don’t fit neatly into my tidy list.

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Kris at “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Wino” wrote a very thought-provoking piece on how difficult it can be to buy an anniversary card for a couple who doesn’t really fit all of the “so many wonderful years together!” mold of the average card shop stock. I really like reading Kris, she is single and smart and funny and provoking and everything I wish I was back when I was single and living in DC, so very many years ago in my previous life. The card purchase morphed into a reflection on people “settling” in a relationship. I loved reading the variety of responses in her comments, and of course had to chime in, as an old married chick. Here is what I said -

“everything you said, I used to say too, albeit not as artfully, before I got married. I waited and didn’t settle, and found my true soul mate when I was 29. Our first few months together I truly thought he had to be interrogating my best friends on the side, because he always knew JUST what to say and do to make me swoon. And now, after 10 years together and 7 years of marriage and 2 kids, he can still make me swoon, when he isn’t driving me crazy leaving his shoes in the kitchen or forgetting to get the oil changed before we leave on vacation. Marriage is a wonderful, awful arrangement. You get to have all of your partners best 24/7, but you also have to be man or woman enough to live and deal with the worst 24/7 too, and not scamper back to your sweet little apartment and cats and "space" when things get not so swoony delicious for a while. When you get married you lose alot of your ability to step back and figure things out because you are knee deep in it. I don’t have my own "corner" anymore, because I have to share it with him and the kids too. It is hard work every day to make it as wonderful as it is for my husband and me. When it is not so wonderful, I don’t wonder if I am "settling" or giving in to what is comfortable and easier, I wonder what I need to do to make it better. It's not just as easy as waiting until you think you found the perfect one who will not fail you, it’s also being willing to not fail them too, and to realize that ultimately you make your own happy life, even if you have to figure it out while you are knee deep in shoes and diapers.”

For seven years I was the worst judge of all of my marriage. I was constantly looking for what was wrong or imperfect and fighting it in some ridiculous internal cage match, always afraid that I was somehow “settling” somewhere.

I can now say that I wasted seven years.

Not on marriage (whew, had you there didn’t I?) I wasted years trying to fight what was already a very good thing, because I wanted to mold it into the pre-conceived notion I had of what my marriage and husband should be. Pre-conceived notions from years and years ago, before I had any idea of how my life would turn out. A few months ago I stopped being so hard on myself, as a mother, as a daughter, as a friend, and a wife. I stopped being my harshest critic, and that has opened me up to how great I really have it, and that has made all the difference.

Since Kris’s post, I have been thinking a lot about this whole notion of “settling” and I think the context is everything. There is a huge difference between “Settling” for less than you wanted for yourself, and “Settling in” for keeps. In sickness and health, For richer or for poorer. Yada yada yada.

(And while I do NOT underestimate the power of good yada yada yada, since my son thinks I am “A Lady’, I should probably stop there.)

Peace out, from Happy Valley.

2 comments:

AndreAnna said...

I have said before how parenting has brought me down so many notches. I wasn’t going to use pacifiers, and I was going to exclusively breastfeed, and we weren’t going to let our kids watch TV except for PBS, and I was never going to yell or swear, or have tons of plastic toys cluttering up my life. And now all I can say is ha, ha, HA! Because my kids have had to have their pacifiers confiscated and hidden in another zip code, I couldn’t breastfeed beyond 6 weeks, my kids are addicted to Playhouse Disney, I yell often, and I have considered using a (tasteful and elegant of course) dumpster for my daily gathering of small plastic crap that accumulates in the living room.

I could have written this word for word!!! It's amazing what changes when you're not prognosticating how things should be but living in how things are.

This was a great entry and I too find myself judging others and labeling in my head, though if you asked me the number one virtue I would ask for my daughter to have it would be humility. How can I teach her than when secretly, I look at people and make decisions about who they are. Whether or not I voice them is irrelevant; I think it, and to me that is bad enough.

I am on your bandwagon. Moccasins and all.

Tessie said...

I loved this post. Other People's Relationships. Yes. That part really hit home. That is an area I need to work on.