I Feel Strong Affection for Him

I feel strong affection for him, this man I married a decadeish ago. We met, dated, cohabited, married.

We procreated. Twice.

Barely 6 months into our relationship, and two weeks after graduating college, moving to a new city and into our first apartment, my father got sick.

Three months after that, my father died.

That’s a large chunk of Really Stressful Life Moments crammed into the first year.

What saved us?

Loyalty. His, not mine. I can look back, with no small amount of guilt, and recognize that I gave almost nothing back that first year. I would have left me.

Separation. He either traveled, or worked the typical Monday through Friday, 9-5. I worked retail, lots of weekends and a lot of second shift. We rarely overlapped.

Moving. We added a dog, moved to a different apartment in a different city. We both changed jobs and started working (theoretically) similar schedules.

Wipes a tear, chucking. I’ll never forget that time when work made me very late to marriage counseling. The winning point went to JB; the therapist rarely took my side after that night.

We’ve never sustained the Burning Grand Passion present in all the romance novels. Moments, weeks, months. Yes.

A lifetime? Not going to happen. Reality smells like morning breath, not chocolate.

We compliment, but do not complete, each other.

Similar religious (no thanks) and political (he’s solidly liberal, I’m more dirty hippie) positions help make our relationship work.

He always gets the religious references in television and movies.
Then explains them to me while laughingly singing about what a Dummy Heathen he married.

I point out all of the mysterious pop-culture references he never notices. We’re working our way through a solid list of 80s/90s cult classics. He’s never seen a single John Hughes movies, people.

Part of our education included him watching The Shining. I had to go hide in the bedroom; cheesy denim jumper notwithstanding, that movie FreaksMeTheHell out.

Redrum. Indeed.

Our differences fill an ocean. The big one.

He likes to be out with people in the world, an extrovert. He’s shy and doesn’t always jump into conversations. He rarely offends strangers, almost never makes glaring social faux pas.

I like to be away from the people in the world, an introvert. I’m not shy and often jump, push, shove my way into the most random of conversations. I offend people on principle, accidentally dropping social faux pas like Gretel dropped crumbs.

I can go days cocooned within the walls of my home to the point that my voice goes scratchy with disuse.

After a mere eight hours he starts clawing the door.

He views the world tinted by happy rose-colored glasses, expecting the best until people prove otherwise. He practices tolerance and acceptance.

I see the world through narrowed eyes as they peer through mud-colored lenses. I anticipate the worst from everyone, choosing surprise over disappointment. I can be critical and judgmental.

Then and Now

We work. Most of the time.

NaBloPoMo February 2013

This post was written in participation of Blogher’s NaBloPoMo February 2013 theme: Love and Sex.

Some Truthiness

First, here’s the disclaimer of:
I love my kids more than my life. They, on a regular basis, fill me with joy and make me burst out with laughter. I look at them and wonder how I managed to create such amazing creatures in my uterus, growing them in a mere 9 (10!) months. I then go on to wonder how my parenting skills seem to be resulting in such reasonably cool kids. And I know they are cool, because other people tell me so– including Z’s preschool teacher at my very first parent/teacher conference this morning.

Because I obviously have no idea what I’m doing. For serious– my last library score included 7 homeopathic health books (based on scientifically validated, placebo-controlled trials); 4 vampire/werewolf/demon romance novels (suck it- I’ve never, ever watched Toddlers and Tiaras, I need brainless, too); 10 parenting books of various shapes and sizes; a few books about a Magic School Bus, and an Angry Llama for the Small People.

So why the deluge of parenting books? I like to read, the library is free with an online request system, I validate myself with experts that agree I’m not breaking my children, and I challenge myself with experts who use different strategies. Living with people–Small or Large–isn’t easy. I’m up for new ideas. Lately, I’ve had less and less tolerance for the daily stalking from my Small People. Because now they are not only doing it constantly, they are also doing it quietly. And people, I am JUMPY. Large People, Small People, living (or not–stupid balloon) get yelled at when they sneak up on me. There is an operatic beauty to their individual neediness. I’d be impressed– if it was happening to someone else. Right now I’m just annoyed. A lot. They are annoyed. A lot. It’s kind of becoming a problem. Hence the various books. Where I will take 2 things from each and make up my own Frankenstein-type parenting rules.

Those joy-filled mothers whose little bunnies never demand more than they deserve and who have convinced themselves that every parenting moment is… Argh–pass the Valium, please. Yes, the theoretical adult knows the amount of time spent complaining (and thus focusing on the negative) is my own choice. See, Mom of Sleeping Children understands that truthiness completely. However, Mom of Child Who Screams after Being Told No is less understanding. Somewhere, in a parallel universe just waiting to be discovered, there is the place between vacant joy and bristling annoyance.

Anyway, my point is that I love my children with the same fierceness as Valium-Mom. But the depth of that love didn’t morph me into a completely different person. I’m still sarcastic. I’m still impatient. I still resent constant, never-ending demands for my attention. Or my time. Or my… all of ME. That didn’t change just because I pushed ye from my womb.

As with all relationships, small resentments tend to build over time. This slow burn is how I discovered that female tears work on Small Boy People with the same success as they work on Large Male People. Hunh. Perk of mothering Small Boy People? Fluke?

All I had asked for was 15 minutes so I could rake up a small section of yard (which is hiding voles). Did I get even 5 minutes? That’s a negative. Did those frustration-mixed-with-PMS-tears result in 45 minutes of them playing nicely in their room together? That’s an affirmative.

I didn’t even waste that time on the internet, posting on facebook, or eating chocolate. I found the exercise on demand channel and got some natural endorphins going. Because I needed to release some demons without punching through the drywall. Punching walls is so not a good example– ah-ha there’s that grown-up thing. Told ya so.