All marriages are happy. It's the living together afterward that causes all the trouble. ~Raymond Hull
Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity. ~Anon
We have been a family for 26 years...26 years!!! Oh, my goodness! Where did all that time go? The nappies? The bedtime stories? The trikes & bikes, the soccer balls & cricket bats? And this house is like a revolving door: they comes in; they goes out. Constantly.
Twenty~six years. And then on Thursday Dearest & I found ourselves in a position we haven't been in in 26 years: we were the only ones home. For 4 days. Dino has gone camping. The girls are down with their aunt & cousin & I looked at this man, the father of my children, this stranger I once travelled the world with, with a little sense of foreboding because this is what we are moving towards day by day, as inevitably as the rising tide; a house bereft of children. Just he & I pottering around in a lot of empty space.
I have been a mother for a long time. Twenty~six years in fact ~ & it is true that I will never stop being a mother even though, in many ways, I wasn't a very good mother. Ask my kids. I zone out well. Ask Dearest. He always said the kids could be swinging off the chandeliers & I wouldn't notice. It's true. I have well worn escape routes for when the chaos gets too much. Just the same if something lasts long enough you get used to it.
I'm used to going to bed only to get up again to pick up a child off the last boat. I'm used to children trying to carry on an unintelligible conversation with me from 5 rooms away, to talking at me through the loo door, to being asked the unanswerable: where did I leave...? I'm used to finding my spare change jar suddenly emptied because pay day is one day too far away. I am used to a child arriving just as I'm on the verge of sleep & going,"So, I was thinking this about God & wondering..."There are a lot of us & my days are inevitably a round of other people's schedules, other people's messes, other people. For decades any conversations with Dearest have been punctuated with, " Hold that thought..."
Days are for living & each one is full. Despite what the books say not all of us can do date nights with the hubby to keep the flame that ignited us in the first place alive. Conversations are more likely to revolve around scraping together that extra $100 to pay the bills or whether somebody's shoes will last another fortnight before they simply must be replaced than deep philosophical questions
We've watched as our boys have wined & dined their girl of the moment declaring loudly how they want romance in their relationship. Um, well, romance is over~rated. And I read my niece's declaration on FB that she wants a man who always thinks she's beautiful. Why? When I can have something more, something better? Nope, dearest rarely buys me a present, not even for my birthday or Christmas, & declarations of how beautiful I am have never been his thing either but when I go into meltdown over money matters & revert to howling at the moon Dearest crunches numbers & points out the light at the end of the tunnel. When Star gets one of those e~mails with a 7am call time in some part of town I've never heard of before & I sob hysterically into the refedex Dearest calmly marks out my route, tells me how much time I need & assures me that I am perfectly capable of doing this ~ a viewpoint I don't always appreciate at the time but he's never been wrong yet. When hormones rage out of control through the house & I start thinking we've raised horrible little monsters who will do something very publicly unforgivable that will necessitate me moving into a well at the bottom of the world & never seeing the light of day again, Dearest reminds me that the hormones will reside & I need to breathe, practise a little detachment, have some chocolate.
Nor would I say Dearest is my best friend. He's male for one thing. There are some things he's just never going to get. He's left brained & mathematical. I need someone in my life who can cover that base for me. We don't always see eye~to~eye. We've ridden some rough seas over 26 years. He's a dog man living in a cat woman's world ~ but we keep cats, not dogs. Another man would have insisted on having his own preference. The man is a dyed in the wool carnivore; at different times in my life for a variety of different reasons I haven't eaten meat. He adores seafood; I believe that what lives in the sea should stay in the sea! I don't eat it; I don't cook it. I've even been known to complain loudly when it arrives in the house. At times I have left the house when the seafood's come in. After 26 years plus I know this man can not meet all my needs. After 26 years there've been days when Dearest has wondered which planet I think I'm living on or what on earth gave me the impression that if I ignored a problem for long enough it would go away. He nicked named me the Ostrich for my habit of burying my head in the sand.
We don't have the storybook marriage; We're not the perfect couple, but you know what? We have the marriage God designed for us ~ the one where we learn daily what it means to follow after Jesus, to prefer the other above ourself, to take up our cross. I am more than I would have been without him. He insisted I learn to drive. He even bought me the only sort of car I would agree to drive as incentive. Where would Star be if he hadn't? He has held the home base while I gadded around town with children babysitting my psychotic cats rather than a docile dog. He has stood proudly behind me when I have had speaking engagements, strengthening me when I have qualms & that counts for something on the days I number all the ways I can dissect a body & dispose of the remains. Um, yeah. I have a vivid fantasy life!
Tonight the various wanderers return & bedlam once more reigns supreme but for 4 days Dearest & I have been able to give each other the space & attention that has been lacking for 26 years. When the last one escapes the coop I think we will be ok. We built our relationship on something more solid than romance or beauty & the core is still sound. Despite everything.