Thursday, August 30, 2007

In the Interests of Balance....Or....What You Learn After You Say I Do

Some of the comments on my last post......which never set out to depict a smarmy, holding-hands-in-the-moonlight couple......made me squirm, as that seems to be how it was interpreted. I probably should just move on and do a post about butterflies, or playing on the beach with grandkids, but,in the interests of fair and balanced reporting, I need to shake it some more, like a dog with a bone. So here’s a glimpse between the lines, where nobody but the canny, if sarcastic Rise, thought to look.

Love in the early years is all dewy eyes and worshipful devotion. Which lasts a while. Then, after you’ve washed his underwear, and listened to him belch, and worse, and he has endured the raging, monthly hormone storms, you slowly float back down to terra firma, to a comfortable level of fondness and tolerance. You think you’ve got it all figured out. But you’re wrong.

Along come the babies. Who demand all of your time, deprive you of sleep, and render you comatose by nine every night. While he is in the throes of advancing in the work world. All those long, involved discussions, late into the night when you were the girlfriend? Devolve into grunts and monosyllables and vague “hmmms?”

When he comes home at the end of the day [he’s been at work with grownups], and you’re so happy to see another adult [you’ve been tripping over toddlers all day], and he asks “How was your day, dear?” he’s looking for the five-words-or-less answer, NOT the dissertation. The glassy eyes are the giveaway. Them and the furtive glances towards the living room, the TV, the newspaper, the sofa, and the dog, whose only demand is to be scratched behind the ears.

But nobody goes hungry, except, perhaps, for the onset of intellectual starvation brought on by hours of scrubbing [cloth] diapers and mopping up pureed peas. Neither is anyone outside, shivering in the cold. We’re all inside with warm beds and stories to read. He’s steady and reliable as a rock, and makes it possible for you to be a full time mom. Which is good. Because if you had to go out and work, as well as raise five children, they might as well shoot you now and be done with it.

Toddlers turn into children, who variously turn into soccer players, swimmers, runners, dancers, martial arts practitioners, artists, musicians, bikers, hikers, bookworms, comedians, scholars, and at last, into teenagers. Oy. With opinions of their own. Often counter to the party line. They believe that their parents are SO out of step. So pathetically uncool. Oblivious to our wisdom, they must try everything out for themselves, and in the process, turn our hair white. Mine much faster than his. Because there is no justice in the world.

To our amazement we produce a gaggle of free thinkers. Our dreams for them are not necessarily the same as their dreams for them. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board. When they‘re babies you can’t wait for them to be toddlers. When they can’t talk, you can’t wait for them to start. When they start, you hold your head in your hands and wonder what was your hurry. You wish you had more time for each one, but hope they’ll be there for each other. The in-laws are appalled. Five children! Those Irish are like rabbits. What was he thinking?

Hot tempers and cold shoulders and extended sojourns in the guest room. But always, eventually, back to cooler heads and calmer waters. Laughter saves us from ourselves. It's tough to keep your seat on your high horse when you’re laughing helplessly. It all adds up to life, feverishly lived, without a script, making it up as you go along, ad libbing to beat the band, so no-one will find out you're groping in the dark. Not exactly a Cinderella story. But Cinderella is hogwash. Living happily ever after is only the beginning.

There. I feel better now.

14 comments:

Tanya Brown said...

I'm laughing a little at your description of the "smarmy, holding-hands-in-the-moonlight couple". Oh, goodness. I think we've all been there in the early stages, and we've all been in the "honeymoon's over and now we have kids to keep alive" stage, which is decidedly less glamorous, more exhausting, and often lonely.

Marriage is a marathon. I think it's wonderful and admirable that you've appreciated the good things and have kept chugging right on by the potholes. Who wants to live in a drafty old castle and stumble around in glass shoes like Cinderella, anyhow?

daysgoby said...

This - this entry - is love, honest and true and lasting.

Thanks, Molly.

sMC said...

I guess it adds up to 2 things..... live the day as if its your last and just roll with the punches. and hope you don't get too many black eyes. lol

Thimbleanna said...

Yup. And then the day comes when you kind of miss all those things that you thought were unpleasant! ;-)

meggie said...

That is definitely how it goes!
Loved the 'hot heads & cold shoulders'! So true. Being married is not all beer & skittles. And the kids are not all little angels that cement the parents!
Brilliant post Molly!

Aunty Evil said...

Nice post Molly!

riseoutofme said...

I wasn't being sarcastic.

Life sentence going well then?

Stomper Girl said...

Ooh - I relate to a lot of this Molly!! Especially the bit where you've been hanging out with the small people all day and you're desperate to talk to a grown-up! Brought a big smile to my face, that did.

tracey petersen said...

But I still look at my guy and know that all of that was worth it. I would do it again, with all its warts, in a heart beat. It's all part of the growing process.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Molly, I just found your site and the treat of your insightful essay was my reward!
How beautifuly you describe those marital stages, and for sure, "laughter saves us from ourselves"....

mjd said...

There you are Molly, the sensible down-to-earth girl that we all love.

Suse said...

Heh.

I feel better too.

Isabelle said...

You're a mistress of metaphor. Just thought I'd say.

I would love to have had five children.

I feel we need to hear more about the three shadowy ones, though.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

It's a funny, ironic paradox, isn't it.

Then... they grow up and become adults and we start to rely on them here and there.

The roles change...

A paradox indeed.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore