Sunday, April 11, 2010

This Post is For My Friend at Work

You ask me sometimes about marriage and kids.  About what it's like to be tied down.  You have not found your soulmate and you wonder if you ever will.  That's what you tell me.  I've watched you for a few short weeks as you choose your dates and search for "the one."  I don't always get your choices, but I get the need to feel wanted and needed.  I know that you are a real catch and one day you will make someone very happy. 

You tell me you aren't a kid person.  One day I watched you get really annoyed at some kid whose mom was letting him run amuck in a restaurant and you started to get loud about it.  I kind of told you to calm down, but realized that you had a point.  The kid was out of control and the mom was really lackadaisical about her kid ruining the atmosphere for the other diners.  So I see that maybe you really aren't comfortable around kids.  And I understand why you might think all kids are like that little dude.  But they aren't.  There are some good kids around.  Kids like the kind of kid I think you were when you were little.  I hope one day you get to experience the love of a really good kid.  It changes your heart.  It changes your life.  Ask your dad how it feels.    

You also mentioned that it seems like I am in prison sometimes because I have all these family obligations that keep me from really letting loose and being who I am.  You are right...I have felt like that sometimes.  I have felt like I was trapped and struggling to live a life that makes me happy.  But the truth is, my kind friend, if I have ever felt trapped or imprisoned by my life as a wife and a mom, it has nothing to do with my kids or my marriage.  It has everything to do with who I am and the choices I have made.  And more importantly, the reasoning and logic I used when I made those choices.  

Let me clarify.  Yes...when I was single, I could come and go when I pleased and I could spend my money the way I wanted to and I NEVER had to worry about having someone attached to my hip 24 hours a day (except for an occasional clingy friend).  My life was my own, my choices were my own and my mistakes were my own.  Rarely did I have to worry about others, unless I chose to do so.  Sometimes I do miss that freedom of not having to worry about anyone but myself. 

But I can honestly say that I never miss that feeling so much that I would give up the experience of being a mom and a wife to have that freedom again, no matter how much the choice to have a family costs me.  Maybe "cost" is the wrong word.  It's not so much a matter of how much the choice cost me, it's more a matter of how much of myself I chose to give up in trying to make a perfect family and live a perfect life.

We have these ideas of what relationships should look and feel like and so we go into life situations with expectations and pictures in our heads about what a perfect marriage and family unit should be.  And my choice was to set really high, pretty unrealistic expectations for what married life would be like for me. So when life happens and it's really hard?  Yeah...I have felt trapped.  Why?  Because I loved my husband so much when I married him, I never foresaw a time when we would not be as close as conjoined twins.  We would never tire of each other and we would have the best relationship EVAH because he was perfect and I was perfect and together we would be double perfect!  Whoo-hoo!  Even though I knew deep down we were far from perfect. I was naive.  All I knew is that I didn't want to have the kind of relationships I had seen growing up, so I went into marriage hoping and praying for the best and thinking that if you love someone enough, the rest just kind of comes together.  I had no clue that I would have to have an advanced degree in human nature and psychology to navigate my new life with a man and kids!  I know.  I KNOW!!  Naive.  Too bad Dr. Phil wasn't around then to help me out. 

So being the optimist that I was at the time, I chose to set up my relationship with my husband on the highest freaking mountain peak I could find.  "Let's shoot for the stars, Honey!"  Then, I expected him to want to climb the mountain, and to be able to reach the peak with me where we would experience the pinnacle of "perfect married life."  Angels would sing and the clouds would part and the finger of God would reach out to bless our union with love and harmony and we'd buy everyone a Coke and there would be singing and laughter throughout the world!   

Except I never bothered to stop and ask him if he knows how to climb mountains.  I just assumed he knew how because he's smart and funny and he has goals and aspirations,!  Seemed like a good assumption.  Let's go, Dude!  Up the mountain!  Then one day it occurs to me he's not making much vertical progress and he's miserable and I'm getting angry because I'm tired of dragging him up the hill and when I finally take the time to ask what his problem is, he says he hates climbing mountains!   WHAT!?!  How did I not know he hates mountain climbing?!  In all our years of dating, how did this question not come up?  Not slightly dislikes it...HATES IT!  So now I'm married to a guy who is not a mountain climber.  He is something else.  Maybe he's a swimmer or a flyer or a runner.  Whatever he is, he's not a mountain climber.  So I end up being pissed that he sucks at climbing mountains.  Can I be mad at him for that?  Well, I can be, and sometimes I am mad at him for it, but should I be mad?  Probably not.  I made the choice to marry him and I made the assumption that he would and could climb mountains.  And I geared my whole life around making sure we got up the mountain together, at the same time, the same way.  I became his Sherpa.  I thought that's what I was supposed to do.  So I did it. I never gave myself the option of taking another path.   I also never considered that he might have his own life path to take.  I never thought about letting him fly to the top of the mountain while I climbed and then meeting him at the top, where we would both be happy with the separate paths that we took and then the clouds and the music and God's finger and the get the idea.  But the key point here is this...I CHOSE to do all of this.  I chose to set it up this way, I chose to assume the role I did, I chose the path.  I chose. 

Then my kids came along.  And when they came, my heart turned to jello and everything in my entire body screamed out with joy and fear and the most fiery hot intense love that I have ever felt in my life.  And in my zeal to give them the kind of childhood I wanted, I threw my entire being into making sure they get a fair shot at being normal and functional as they grow and face life in an adult world.  I want them to have choices that I never had.  So I sacrifice. 

I sacrificed my business and my career.  I sacrificed my body.  I sacrificed my wardrobe, my health, my happiness.  I put everything on hold for my kids and my husband.  I thought it was the right thing to do and at first I was really, really happy with my choice to walk away from everything that took my focus and attention away from my boys' well-being.  Because mission is to give them something different than I had - a solid home life where they feel wanted and loved and safe, no matter what is going on in the world around them.  It all sounds so noble, right?  I should have been so happy making these sacrifices, knowing they would give my kids the kind of life I didn't have.  Everything I did was for my kids, and sometimes my husband. I never did anything for myself.

But I wasn't happy.  I was mad that no one appreciated my efforts.  And my being a martyr was not noble.  All I was doing was teaching my boys to feel guilty for having a good life that I was giving them!  How whacked is that?!  I was constantly angry that I was not finding any joy in my role as a wife and a mom and I was blaming everyone but me.    
Then one day the realization hit me:  I asked for this.  I told God what I wanted and he gave it to me.  I wanted a husband, I wanted children and I got what I wanted.  I asked to be a stay at home mom and I got what I wanted.  These were my choices.  I can tell you they were and still are the right choices.  I know that with every fiber of my being.  But somehow my choices left me feeling trapped and unhappy and wanting to escape my reality to just let loose and be who I really am inside. 
The truth is I chose to give up that "fun, crazy, impulsive, creative" part of myself.  No one asked me to give it up, I just assumed that part of my self would be counterproductive to raising a family.  And really, I don't want my boys to have to go through some of what I went through when I was crazy and impulsive, because frankly, it was kind of scary to figure out how to navigate some of those situations with no one to turn to for advice and counsel and help.  So in my mind that meant I have to be a different person now so my kids have a good role model.  Because I'm setting the example for them, right? 

So somewhere during my life journey, my values changed.  Actually, they didn't change, I just finally developed a core set of values by which I want to live my life.  Maybe I was afraid that letting loose would lead me back to being the person I was a long, long time ago.  That person struggled with being able to stay safe around toxic people and situations because I didn't always have guiding principles by which to make good decisions.  While I had some fun times, I had no self-worth or no sense of how to protect myself.  I don't ever want to go back to that place of feeling like I had no value or reason to exist other than to be abused or neglected by the people who claimed to care about me.  And I never want my kids to feel like that.  Like they cannot protect themselves or that they don't have the skillset to deal with life's trials. 
So I made choices.  I decided that I wanted something different. Obviously the choices I made were based on some flawed logic and ideas.  Nevertheless, they were MY choices.  Did my choices create some kind of prison? were right about that.  They did.  But one man's prison is another man's safety.  Obviously I didn't feel safe being myself.  Assuming the title of wife and mom gave me something to hide behind, for awhile anyway.  Your questions about marriage and kids and happiness kind of brought things full circle for me.  Your calling me out made me realize that for the last 2 years, through this blog and my writing and getting involved in various other endeavors, including my new job, I have been coming out of hiding.  It's been quite a process.  Sometimes slow, sometimes painful, sometimes scary, but really very exciting and fun, all at the same time.  So what does this all mean? 
Does this new realization mean I walk away from my family so I can feel free?  That's one choice people make.  Is it my choice?  Absolutely not!  It means I change the way in which I live my life with them.  Because it is my life, right?  It means that I give them the best of who I really am, because they deserve that effort from me and because I truly want to give it to them, not because I feel obligated to give it to them.  It means I give MYSELF the best of who I really am, because I deserve that.   It means I let the crazy, fun, spontaneous, creative parts of me come out once in awhile because my family needs to be with "Fun Geri" too sometimes!  It means I quit using my husband and kids as an excuse for not living my own life.  It means, my friend, that I would not be the person I am today had I not gotten married and had kids.  So while the experience may have felt like a burden at times over the last ten years, the truth is I would have never known these things about myself had I not made the choices I have made.  Getting to this realization has kind of sucked.  It's been painful and scary.  But now that I'm here...I feel free to be a different, better version of me.  Like it's okay now.  Somehow I have permission that I wouldn't give myself before.  And I can thank a dear new friend for caring enough to ask some really tough questions and push me to finally address the issue at the level it needed to be addressed.
Thank You.  I owe you.  Big time.  And I love yer guts for taking the time to really get to know me. I hope someday I can return the favor. 


Miss Hope said...

I get this post. I sat here and read every single word and I get it. You are one helluva woman, Miss Boymom.

I Am Boymom said...

Thanks Miss Hope...I wondered what people would think about this post, it was pretty personal and I wasn't sure anyone would understand where I was coming from. I feel better now. And as far as Hella Women go? YOU are the winner!! Hope ROCKS OUT LOUD! Now go spray some weeds with yer new prize!

The Sports Mama said...

You, my friend? Are awesome. I am so glad I've met you.

johnsonteammom said...

I'm so glad I still learn from you. You are quite a woman. LOVE YOU!!!

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