Friday, August 14, 2009

Experience is humbling.

When I started to spread my wings and leap out in the great big world, I decided that I would do it the right way. I would spend and save my money wisely. I would get an education. I would make smart choices. When my friends would spend their entire paychecks (before rent was due) on beer, clothes, concerts, and eating out I would "tsk, tsk" (in my head) and come up with a mental list of why that was not wise. When my sister would run out of money and need my parents to give her $700 I would think, "that's just stupid, she isn't learning any lessons about life except that mom and dad will bail you out." I knew how it should be done. Please keep in mind... I was still living with my parents and under their car insurance, cell phone plan, grocery budget, toiletries budget, etc.

When Ryan and I started dating, I decided that we were perfect for each other. He was a little bit this way and I was a little bit that way and together we were the perfect pair. We balanced each other out. I looked at old couples in restaurants who ate their entire meals together and said a total of eight words to each other, much less even made eye contact. I thought, "My goodness, that is so sad. I will never be like that." When my parents would have a spat, I would think, "If they would just learn to communicate the right way they would be able to see each others viewpoint and be so much happier." I would study every relationship I saw and if there was something wrong with it, I knew of ten ways they could fix it... off the top of my head. Ryan and I were going to make it. We had it all figured out.

After we were married, we decided that we would wait to have kids. I knew this was best because we didn't have the extra money just laying around to start buying things like cribs, clothes, toys, etc. We didn't have health insurance. We didn't even have 2 bedrooms in our apartment. We made a plan and I was content. In the meantime, however, my plan didn't stop me from being the best parent without kids... ever. When a kid in a store would throw a temper tantrum, I knew that if that mother would just be consistent and discipline her child, that child wouldn't be causing such a scene. When I saw a parent offer candy to entice good behavior, I shook my head and said, I will never bribe my kids. I knew that my kid would always be a good kid... because I would be a good parent.

Be assured that I'm slightly exaggerating to make my point... but I am probably (and sadly) not exaggerating as much as I'd like to pretend. There is nothing like good ol' inexperience to give you all kinds of false assurance of what an awesome person/wife/mother you'd be... if only you were given a chance. Good ol' immaturity passing itself off as maturity.

I see the judging occasionally when I can barely contain my frustration at Ryan. Its written all over their face that if I would only _________ then ________ and it would all be alright. What you DON'T know is that my marriage is a struggle because all marriages are. You don't know that I've purposed in my heart to make my wedding vows "until death do us part" not "until adultery/sin/selfishness/boredom/etc do us part."

I've seen it on people's faces (and read between the lines of what they DO say) when I pick up my crying/freaking out kid from a nursery worker who has met Aayla one time that if I would just put her down more often she wouldn't be so whiny and needy. You don't know that my little girl is one of the best behaved, independent, obedient, and affectionate little 16-mo-old girls I've ever met... except when her parents keep her up late at night and keep her too busy during the day to get a decent nap, which is when YOU met her.

Marriage is freaking hard and we've only been married (almost) five years. I love Ryan to death. I always assumed that to be in love meant to be in love all the time. There are times I want to wring his neck. I can't even count the number of times I've played through a fantasy in my head... and let me tell you, that fantasy wasn't sexual. Instead it involved me smashing his face in with a heavy object. Or leaving. Or telling him all the things I hate about him. That would teach him. I never thought we'd be the couple that sat in a restaurant having an entire meal over a shared eight words. I never imagined that that couple could be just enjoying being there together away from their daily responsibilities that distract them from each other. I would ENJOY going out to a restaurant with just Ryan and sitting there for even a half hour, eating food that I didn't make, not taking turns feeding Aayla so the other one can grab a few bites, not starting a million conversations about what needs to get done only to be interrupted by a bored toddler with spaghetti all over her hands. And you know what? I'd enjoy it even if we weren't allowed to talk because I'd sit there and remember all the reasons why I love my husband so deeply that I would give my life for him in a heartbeat. To top it off? I'd be thankful that I have him even with all his faults... because oh yes, I am fully aware of most of them.

I've mourned many times that I will never be his girlfriend again now that I'm his wife and his children's mother. I still don't think I've come to terms with it, especially because when I hear people say things like, "you never have to lose that spark" or "the honeymoon never has to end." Well its not the spark we've lost, its the inexperience. I can't pretend he is perfect anymore than he can pretend I am. We have history together--good and bad--that has sent the roots of our relationship down further and deeper than we originally thought they would ever need to be. It just seems weird to go around giddy and twitterpated now. Some things we still get away with, like holding hands and sitting by each other in restaurants. But I most certainly don't feel the need to only let him see me with makeup or avoid asking him to enter at his own risk the now stinky bathroom to grab an extra roll of toilet paper. And don't even get me started about labor. Whatever dignity in front of Ryan I might have been clinging very gingerly to was LOST. Horribly, irrevocably lost. When you ask your husband to take a second look at your bare behind because you swear you just pooped yourself and you can't check on your own... you have obliterated your last shred and any rights thereof to "things hidden from husband." He is stuck with you, even if you are disgusting.

We've hit comfortable. For better and worse, we have.

I will and do fight for him every day. "For" being the key word in that sentence. He is my partner. His battles are my battles, as mine are his. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that, but for the most part, we remember we are on the same team. He is mine. I am his. There is no room for selfishness here. There IS selfishness here, but there isn't room for it. We are not perfect, but I love him so ferociously I can't imagine there being anything I couldn't forgive and move on from. I also can't imagine what another five years will do to us. Please Lord, let those five years bring a day shift our way.

Rambling, I know... but its been on my heart.


Mriss said...

Can I say I had tears in my eyes reading that? You have a talent for communicating your feelings into words that I can really relate to. Even though I'm not married or a mother - I still felt so connected with what you were saying. It was so real and beautiful and that's why I miss you blogging =)

Amanda Elaine Eldridge said...

Nancy - Your blog will be a treasure to you some day; reading this hit me on so many levels, especially with some of the things David and I are trying to fight/work with these days. Keep writing for Him! :)

Nancy said...

Amanda, I love that you commented and brought this to my attn tonight. I still feel this so deeply and ferociously. Every struggle has been worth it. Sheesh. We are 9 years and counting. First day shift was today and he gets it for one month. I WILL TAKE IT. Hahaha PTL!!