Tom and I celebrated 13 years of marriage last week, and have been together for almost 16. It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses and unicorns farting rainbows, oh no. Far from it. There have been roses, but also a lot of storms and I have yet to see a unicorn, rainbow-farting or otherwise. I’d say we have a pretty good marriage.
Something I’ve never done here, in the 3 1/2 years I’ve written this blog, is vamp on my marriage. I complain about my children, I whine about my life, but I’ve only ever spoken positively of my marriage, if at all. I’m pretty sure this post will be my first, last, and only reflection on my marriage, for two reasons. One, I owe it to Tom to not air it all and two, if I start, I may never stop.
I know how lucky I am, with the situation we are in. Tom works from home and makes good money. He can be a responsible adult presence if I need to leave one or both of the boys here while he’s working. He knows if I’ve had a good day or a bad one. Compared to his previous profession (high school band director), he’s actually home evenings and weekends, and irate parents don’t call at night.
After J was born five years ago I made the difficult decision to give up my remaining flute students and become a completely Stay At Home Mom. And with that decision went the last poof of the girl Tom married. When we first met, I was a very driven musician, practicing a lot to reach goals I wanted to hit. I was taking auditions for military bands and was being accepted (for many reasons I decided to let those go). I was successful and have recordings to prove it, if only to myself. Then, gradually, that person disappeared. Decisions that had to be made for the good of both of us, then for the good of the family when the boys arrived, gradually chipped away at Musician Jen. That last decision, to give up flute teaching, finally erased that last little bit.
I threw myself into raising the boys and managing the household. A challenging job for anyone…add in a twice-exceptional son and a son who is challenging to understand and a husband who is unable to manage stress well and a wife/mom who absorbs all the emotional detritus…well, we just put the fun in dysfunctional! My mad organizational skillz rose to the challenge and kept everything going.
It hasn’t always been easy. It hasn’t always been fun. It’s hardly been worthwhile some days. I gave up a career for myself to raise my boys and support Tom as he grew more successful. And in the process I became more of a business partner than a wife, a whip-snapping shrew more than a mom, and lost a lot of myself in the process. The guilt of being “just a mom” and not bringing in a paycheck, of feeling “beholden” to my husband, of not getting everything done that needs to be done because I’m home and it should be possible…it’s almost overwhelming some days. These are things I’ve been working on and making progress. With the boys in school this year, I hope to make even more progress.
I love my husband. Deeply. And while I know I couldn’t possibly be happier with or more loved by anyone else, I have fantasized about picking up and getting the hell out. I’m sure most women have. Maybe it’s because he works from home and I.am.never.alone.in.the.house or maybe it’s because we are so very much alike or maybe it’s just because I just can’t handle his pinned-in-the-red-zone-level of stress on top of my oldest having an anxiety meltdown while his brother whines he’s hungry as the dog has another seizure. Probably a bit of all of that.
The girl Tom married is long gone. In her place is a strong woman turning the next page of her life story and wanting more from the next page than the previous pages have given her.
This semi-psychotic rant brought to you by What happened to the girl I married? by Michael Miller, Silicon Valley Moms Blog July book club selection. It’s a quick read, and I suggest sticking it in your husband’s reading pile after you’re done. Underlined passages are up to you.