Saturday, March 10, 2012

the MRS degree

You know how when you are growing up, people are always asking what you wanted to be when you grew up?  I had crazy answers over the years, but I know that the summer before my senior year of high school I told people I wanted to be a veterinary technician.  Then in my senior year, I started telling people I wanted to be a nurse.  I never wanted to be a nurse.  I just wanted to go to a particular college and it had a good nursing program, so that's what I said to get what I wanted.  Insert eye rolls here. 

What I did want to do was go to college and meet my husband.  I didn't date in high school and had never even kissed a boy.  My mantra was "just wait 'til college", though in retrospect I wonder what I expected to happen in college.  And in even further retrospect I wonder what in heck I thought was so great, and so immediately necessary, about finding a husband...

So it took my entire college career but I did find a husband.  An inappropriate, ill-fitting husband.  But I got married a year after I graduated.  And you'd think that would have taught me an important lesson about getting married just for marrying's sake.  We divorced after three years and my life took some really fabulous turns for the better.

And while I did a lot of things right, I still maintained this overwhelming idea that if I could just find "THE ONE", my life would suddenly be perfect.  And all that time, I really was still just finding myself.  What occurred to me the other day as I was mulling over a particular post topic, was that I would find a nice guy, who seemed to like me OK, and then I was all about trying to fit myself into whatever character that guy might want - all in hopes that he would love me, because then I could love him.  Did I love him?  In my memory of a few select guys, my brain doesn't say  yes or no, it says "I could have".  Big shocker then that the pressure of dating, which is bad enough, combined with the pressure on the guy to define what he wanted me to be, usually led to a quick end to any potential relationship.  And once the romantic piece was over, we reverted to friends and generally have stayed in friends ever since.  The two guys I'm thinking of as I write this were my romantic interests about 20 and 14 years ago...we're still friends...and this insight is just occurring to me NOW.  Insert another eye roll here.

What occurred to me yesterday was that my search for that title of Mrs., which dates back as far as I can remember, had a lot more to do with my deep desire to belong to someone than it did with actually being married and engaging in the partnership of marriage and the responsibilities of parenthood.  I think I wanted so badly to be wanted for myself alone and to have that primary relationship, that I would bend myself around in crazy ways and stand on my head to fit.  The problem with my first husband was that he didn't want to belong to anyone, nor did he want to share anything with anyone...so there was no niche for me to fit myself into and thus I had to go.  I am grateful to him for pushing me out, even though I know he wasn't doing it for my own good or any other altruistic reason, it was just a function of his own dysfunction.  But it turned out well for me.

With all that said, I am now a Mrs. and a mom.  And while I am very grateful for these roles, I was single and childless for a long long time in life (married at age 37) and there are days that I wonder what in the heck I was thinking by longing for this obligated and messy life.  Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, isn't it?  Especially on hard days.  But we are now officially on Spring Break and headed to Orlando tomorrow, and I intend to enjoy what I am sure will be an exciting and magical trip for the kids, and for us.  Recharging starts NOW!

4 comments:

  1. Hey, I am so glad you are getting the chance to recharge. We have one more week of work and then I, too, will get that chance to recharge. I will stay here in Sebby and just breathe. You have more strength than I do - I could never deal with Orlando at this point - but you also have youth on your side!
    and, oh my yes, I hear you on the whole - the grass is always greener thing. I remember being quite happy with the life I had created for myself post first marriage. Along came RR and I decided to jump back into marriage and such again - the desire for family was driving that. Now? Now I wonder that the hell was I thinking - but we also have raised two great kids - who are now responsible, compassionate, contributing members of the world community. And there is goodness. ANd perhaps it is simply inevitable and human nature to wonder about the grass over there. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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  2. As Erma Bombeck said, "The grass is always greener over the septic tank!"

    Hope you all have a wonderful trip!

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  3. I too thought that the grass was greener on the other side. At least, I thought, it had to be a little less brown than my patch. So I took the risk, climbed over the fence, and voila! Not only was it greener, there were also lilacs and daisies.
    Sometimes you just have to find out what is on the other side.
    Enjoy your trip. Experience the wonder through your kids eyes. It might just be the re-charge you need.

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  4. Relationships and our expectations of them are always such a tangled mess, I think. Those things you expressed about trying to fit yourself to the relationship rather than building a relationship that fits with a compatible person are pretty common things, I think. Of course, I was married ridiculously early to my first boyfriend (who went from being boyfriend to husband in a few short months) so I really don't know that I would take my word on anything. We've been married 25 years this July, but it has been a messy and challenging ride a lot of the time and there are still days when I think, "What the HELL am I doing/have I done?" by staying in it. Some days, it feels as much like stubbornness and endurance as it does true love. But there are lots of other days, too, where I know I don't belong anywhere else.

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