Monday, December 6, 2010
I've Gotta Be Me
When my husband and I were first married, I made it my mission to be the perfect wife and mother. We were young, our first son had just been born, and we decided that the best thing for him would be if I was a Stay At Home Mom. Not having been raised in a "traditional" household with a mother, father, two point five kids, and a dog, the only way I could garner how to do that was from watching TV.
Don't you just love TV moms? Their homes are immaculate, their meals are always delicious, their children are well-behaved, their lawns are manicured, their thumbs are green. They are perfect hostesses, they don't mind if their husbands bring home a guest for dinner without notification, their spouses work crazy long hours and they don't mind. They help with homework, dole out motherly love and advice, drive the soccer team to every game. They have endless supplies of energy, they're always in the mood for sex, and they do all of this while looking remarkably put-together.
Can you imagine trying to keep up this frenetic pace and maintain your sanity? I tried. For the first five years of my marriage, I tried to be everything to my husband and son. Then one day when I wasn't paying attention, resentment started to creep in. This isn't me, I thought. I'm a fun-loving extrovert. I like to meet new people and try new things. I like to spend time with my friends laughing and talking about grown-up things. I like to go to concerts and clubs and dinner parties. I like to shop for things other than food, household items, and toddler clothes. I like to get my hair done by professionals. I enjoy manicures and pedicures.
I liked doing things for me.
But who the hell was this 'me' person and why was she popping up after all these years? I'd gone from an eccentric people lover to an isolated home body. In short, I'd turned into the female version of my husband. My hubby didn't like going out and meeting new people; it just wasn't his thing. He was perfectly happy going to work everyday, coming home to a hot meal, and staying in to watch a movie with his wife and son. Because I loved him so, I was content to do whatever made him happy...at first.
Let me interrupt the remainder of this post to say that this was not my husband's fault. I was so determined to be the real life incarnation of Carol Brady, that I forgot to be me. And boy, did I hate DH for that. I resented him and blamed him for turning my whole life into something totally different than I had planned it to be. I hadn't planned on getting pregnant the first semester I re-enrolled in college. I planned on getting my B.A. in Psychology and enrolling in grad school. I planned on earning my doctorate and moving to Hollywood to be a shrink to the stars. I planned on writing best-selling books on how to be happy even if everything in your life says you shouldn't be. I planned on traveling the world and buying homes on Waikiki and in the South of France. I never planned to have any children.
Why do we do that? Why do we make someone else's happiness a priority over our own? I think that somewhere in the midst of society's portrayals of who we should be, some of us forgot to just be ourselves; the selves we were created to be. It is possible to love yourself and still be a good wife. It is possible to be happy with who you are as a person and still be a good mother. Who cares if your house is a little messy? If people don't like your messy home, they don't have to visit. If they don't like your cooking, they can take you out to dinner. If they don't like your parenting skills, they can mind their own damned business.
You can deny who you are just to be with someone or to make that someone happy or comfortable, but you can't do it for long. One day the real you will burst from the depths of your being and refuse to be denied any longer. Save yourself the wasted time, the miserable years and be happy now. Be you now. It is absolutely possible to strike a balance between who you are and whom you aspire to be. Trust me when I tell you that both you and those you love will be a lot better off in the long run.
As for DH and I, we separated for a brief period when I was attempting to find myself again. Let's just say that when we reunited, things were very different.
And we're still together.
Until next week,
Feed on love; subsist on peace.