Take, for example, a happily married couple I know who just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. Many people told them they were very "lucky to have found each other" and subsequently such happiness. The wife and I were talking about how this was not a compliment.
"We worked very hard to get through some bad times. We almost split up once, but in the end we chose to work it out. It was not always easy, but it has always been worth it," she said. She went on to explain that they both view their relationship as something they maintain. They make it a point to work through the little things. Their successful marriage was bourne of choice, commitment and hard work. Luck had nothing to do with it.
It is like when people tell me how lucky I am to work for such a wonderful employer. I did not just stumble into this job. I have worked a lot of crap jobs in my lifetime. Eventually I got an interview here, and because of my assets and my preparation I got the job. I keep the job because I am good at it. Again, not luck.
Likewise, I am not "lucky" to have an intelligent, kind and well behaved child. He did not just happen to me. I first chose to have the sex that led to the conception of him. While pregnancy was not the desired intention at the time, when it happened I chose to become a mom. I nurtured him in the womb and was conscious of the environment I created to raise him in. I modeled the behaviour I wanted to see reflected back at me. When I fucked up I admitted it. Out loud even. I explained too many things to even begin to list here. Suffice it to say, he is not accidentally the way he is. He has chosen to be so. I may be blessed to be his mother, but it was not "luck" that made me so.
I have learned to "own" every thing that I do. The bad things as well as the good. I think sometimes we are so quick to cry, "Stupid me!" when we fuck up, but we never seem as eager to give our own selves a pat on the back.
Good things do not just happen to "lucky" people. Honest. Life is the result of choices. Often just showing up puts you ahead of the person who could not be bothered to do so. So sometimes, when it seems like pure luck, you need to take a long look in the mirror and give credit where credit is due. You can either make life happen for yourself or you can wait for "luck" to do it for you.
Trust me. Get out of bed. Show up. You will not need luck.
I wish I was multi-lingual
I read an average of 2 books a week. (Usually it's a book a day.)
I am a poet
I always planned on going to law school, but things worked out differently
I am extremely loyal
I am a Yellow Dog Democrat (Duh.)
I think bald heads are sexy
I ride English
I choose not to hate
I am fascinated by birth
I am inspired by ice skating
I've only been in love twice in my life
I am Irish Indian
I used to have tradition of going to NYC for New Year's Eve
I taught preschool for three years
I have seen (up close) a man get stabbed in the heart
I admire intelligence
I think humour is an important asset
Spelling errors jump out at me from the page
I never end a sentence with a preposition
I can still recite all the helping verbs I had to memorize in fourth grade
I never "got" math
If I had to pick one food for the rest of my life it would be cheese
I like to rock climb
I'm not a big meat eater
I greatly admired Linda McCartney
I secretly crush on Matt Lauer
James Carville is my hero
Money is not very important to me
I am a very aesthetic person
I was raped when I was 25
I am extremely organized
I clean my house every Saturday, and have done so for decades
I don't have a sweet tooth
I am very sentimental
I used to be agoraphobic
I mourn the loss of good old fashioned manners
I dislike American cars
I have a near photographic memory
I have created distinct personalities and life histories for both my cats
I find fish disgusting
I have an irrational fear of "containers" of water (i.e. fountains, swimming pools, water rides etc...)
I own engraved handcuffs
Shower tile grosses me out
I love to receive snail mail
I love opera and ballet
I collect metal snowflake ornaments
Perfect strangers will disclose personal info to me
I am easy to talk to
I have wanted a breast reduction since I was 16
I have huge feet
Earrings are the only jewelry I ever wear
I once married a man I didn't love b/c I thought I should.
I am always running late
I miss my mom like crazy
I was raised by a single mom
My handwriting sucks
I love to drive
The sound of children singing makes me cry, and I don't know why!
I don't kill bugs
My brother was electrocuted and killed
I love the smell of citrus
I love gadgets
I have an uncanny ability to remember phone numbers
I dislike wearing makeup
I am extremely hot natured
I have a horrible temper, but have acquired a zen like ability to keep it under control
I've had a life long fascination with the Amish
I love Elvis kitsch
I DO NOT camp
I've always wanted a classic car from the late 50's
There are soundtracks to my memories
I make lifelong friends
I still send thank you notes, and have taught my son to do the same
I believe in soul mates and in destiny
I am a huge advocate for the homeless
I believe we should support teen moms
I prefer to eat local, and organic
I've always taken vitamins and supplements
I don't drink water
I wish I could play an instrument (I quit flute after 2 months, piano after three lessons both when I was 10)
I like drum corps
I really dislike it when people come over without calling first
I envy people with big close families
I rarely eat ice creme
I've kept my toes painted red since I was 15
I used to do record promo displays for WEA and met too many bands and artists to name
I have a great eye for photography, but no technical knowledge
I've tutored numerous people through freshman comp
I love restaurants
I think t-shirts and soap should always be white
I believe in Karma
I like to look at houses
I can't type
Eggs and milk both gross me out
I really do like spinach
I'm obsessive about symmetry
I can find humour in almost any situation
I don't do "cute"
Life is definitely too short!
These days Furry walks into a room and announces, "Hi!" for all to hear. His eyes are wide and his smile is big, so of course we can't help but acknowledge his greeting with a resounding, "Hi!" back to him.
Therein lies the problem.
See, he doesn't get that he can just let it go at that point. He answers your "Hi" with yet another, "Hiiiiiiiiiiiii," though this time in a more breathy and excited voice. The cycle repeats until you distract him with the cat or a cookie.
But imagine what a big word those two letters must be to him. It's a word filled with expectation. It can mean, "Hi! I'm here now. Adore me!" Or, it can mean "Hi! What do you wanna do now?" How about, "Hi! Wow I can't believea minute ago you weren't here and now you are!" And even, "Hi! Right now you are my most favourite person in the world!"
The word gets everyone's attention. It puts smiles on people's faces.
"Hi" is a mighty big word when you look at it that way.
I was beginning to think Furry would never talk. Of course I speak as the mother of Little Dog, who practically came out of the womb with fully formed opinions to share. His first word was "Batman!" He also used it much in the same way Furry uses the word "Hi" though it didn't prove to be much of a conversation starter.
By 12 months he had quite the vocabulary. Instead of saying "bye bye" he would wave and lisp, "Drive cars! Drive cars!"" I guess it made sense to him, as when people left they usually got in their cars and drove away.
He also sprinkled "pizza" (pronounced pee-puh) and "turtle" (Tutt-uhl) liberally throughout his conversation. The context was irrelevant.
Though he has become quite eloquent as he matures some of his baby words have become permanent in our family vocabulary. To this day we still refer to the living room as the "wib-worm." A blanket is a "gamma" and the foot of the bed is the "down arrow."
I can't wait to hear what Furry comes up with to add to our lexicon. Right now, though, his "Hi" pretty much says it all.
2. Take the donation clothes to Catholic Charities.
3. Drop off the dry cleaning.
4. Buy new tires for the car and get the oil changed.
5. Find the damned money to buy new tires for the car.
6. Work with Joey on the book proposal.
7. Read 2 issues of Bitch, 3 issues of Bust and the Utne - or at least pick them up off the bedroom floor.
8. Balance the checkbook for real and get rid of that fake negative balance I keep to trick myself into not spending money.
9. Put up the crown moulding in the kitchen
10. Return calls to Beth, Holly, Muller and, of course, Dad
11. Edit the stack of poems on my desk.
12. Replant the the planter on the landing.
13. Figure out how to stop the cats from peeing in the planter on the landing.
14. Take cats for rabies shots
15./16. Get new glasses/Stop holding things at arms length and squinting to read.
17. Buy books for school - both mine and Little Dog's
18. Take the cans for recycling
20. Return Jen's long e-mail.
21. Write Robin a thank you note
22. Schedule massage
23. Pick out which picture to have framed for Joey's birthday.
24. Remind Joey to offer my photo work to Linda
25. Mat and frame latest prints.
Fuck it. I'll never get all this crap done. I'm going to bed.
I love to travel, and yet have not been on a real vacation in over a decade. Back in my twenties, which were, to my life, what the 90's were to the dot com-ers. Money flowed, I bought into my own PR and then it all crashed. But I digress.
Okay, in my twenties I was the queen of road trips. I would finish a Saturday night shift at the piano bar at 3 am, and being hyped up on caffeine and with pockets full of cash I would spontaneously decide to drive to Denver to visit a friend. Soooo...I would cover my next couple of shifts, grab my duffel, hop in the car and make the drive. 12 hours straight through...ON NO SLEEP. I arrive at my friend's doorstep just as she was coming home from work.
I would drive four hours to Dallas just to eat dinner. I would drive six hours to see a band.
Gas was cheap and, for the most part, my time was free.
So, with that in mind I decided Little Dog should experience the magic of a road trip. It was summer and I had just finished a lucrative contract job. I had the magic two: Time and money.
Little Dog wanted to know where we were going. "I dunno," I said, "Let's just head in the direction of Missouri. I'll bet there will be lots of cool places to stop and see."
Now even though I am a live-in-the-moment kind of gal I somehow managed to give birth to Mister Itinerary, himself. He always likes to know things like "where" and "what time." He hates to be late and he never forgets to take a towel to the pool.
Yeah. You know the type.
So it took some persuading and my agreement to let him have the large suitcase (presumably so he could pack for any contingency.) He also refused to leave spontaneously, insisting we wait until the next morning. He spent the evening calling friends to let them know we would be gone and writing a very long and detailed list of instructions for the friend who had agreed to cat sit.
So, the next morning we headed out.
Now, in my opinion road trips are a great way to experience music and so I had brought quite a selection of CDs. I popped in some Cramps and hit the cruise control. Little Dog, however, felt we should listen to the radio and proceeded to check for a weather report.
Uh...This was not going well.
By the time we hit the turnpike he was asleep. So much for bonding time.
After the turnpike stretch I woke him up and began pointing out the road side signs.
'World's largest pecan," I shrieked, "Wanna see it?"
"Hand pulled taffy! Wanna watch?"
"Genuine nut bowls! Do we need one?"
Finally Little Dog got into the spirit and began watching for and ultimately choosing some attractions. Fantastic Caverns was a hit with him, except for the part where I knocked my ball cap off on a staglite and made the tour guide stop the jeep tour so I could go pick it up. (In my defense it was my beloved 20 year old Yankees cap.)
The Exotic Animal Paradise was a big disappointment as neither he nor I really felt that water buffaloes and goats were all that exotic.
We passed on The Precious Moments Chapel as "cute" tends to irritate us both.
That night we stayed in a road side motel (his first motel stay) and well, let us just say that I felt so guilty about the quality of that room that the next night I sprang for an executive suite at the Marriott to make up for it.
And speaking of the Marriott...
I decided that night would be the big splurge night where I would introduce my son to some of the finer indulgences in life. Upon checking in we quickly opted to visit the indoor pool, after which we went to the (thankfully unpopulated) hot tub. Then we returned to the room to get dressed for dinner. That was when it happened. Little Dog fell in love with the hotel bathroom.
"Did you know there's a TV in there?!" He promptly called dibs on first shower. 30 minutes later I peeked my head in to see what the hold-up was and there was my 8 year old: soaking in bubbles, Jacuzzi jets running while Pokemon played in the TV.
By the time he could tear himself away from the nirvana he had found I was too wound down to go out. I decided to let him order room service. He poured over the menu and ultimately ended up ordering a specially made cheese platter, some fries and and chocolate milk.
Okay, so if he thought the bathroom was great he was ready to move in permanently when the food arrived. They wheeled in the cart and began placing the silver covered plates on the table. His milk was in a crystal goblet. There was a rose in a bud vase. And when the meal was done those wonderful people at this magic place came back and picked up all the dishes!!!
So cool, that he had to have a snack before bed 2 hours later. This time he knew the drill and was sitting buffeted by pillows at the head of the bed. The orange sherbet was served in a stemmed bowl.
After delicately dabbing his lips with the linen napkin my aristocratic son announced that he would be unavailable for a while because he had to poop.
And the best part (according to him) was that he could WATCH TV while he did so.
Oh yes, my boy is definitely cut out for the glamorous life.
Yes, midway through a relatively calm week, right after dinner and before deciding which tivo-ed program to watch, his dad very matter-of-factly mentioned that he “didn’t really love” his mom anymore. He also mentioned (and I do mean mention, as these statements were made like mere asides as he watched tv) that he would be moving out the following Sunday.
Yeah, Furry’s mom had all the same questions you might be asking. Things like, “We were having problems? Wha?!” and “Why didn’t you ever tell me you were unhappy?”
As reality sunk in the questions quickly became louder and more aggressive. “What the hell are you thinking?!” and, “Is this a fucking joke?!”
It does not really matter what else was said during the following period of shrieking and tears. The bottom line was that the marriage had ended without any warning. Not with a bang, but with a very annoying heavily accented British whine.
See, he claimed he did not “feel passionate” about the marriage or family anymore. Yeah, and since he is such a passionate guy he needs to be constantly inspired and overwhelmed with…er…passion? Or something.
It all sounded like a bunch of bullshit to me. I have been married and it is not exciting all the time. I mean, c’mon, once you have seen someone’s laundry up close and personal, or become privy to their grooming habits, or even just been called on to deliver a fresh roll of toilet paper to a smelly bathroom occupied by your beloved... Well, after that, the romance does not come so easy any more.
Oh, and let me clear up one really big misconception that Brit Boy seemed to have: Feeling secure in a relationship and trusting that your spouse is going to be beside you for the rest of your life is NOT the same as taking them for granted.
Okay, if you never acknowledge how wonderful you think they are, or if you never say thank you (and mean it) or if you forget to talk to them much at all that might be taking them for granted. But for gosh sakes, after a few years of marriage is it not kind of a given that you love them so much you want to share the rest of your life with them? You were so committed to them that you pledged said commitment in a big ceremony in front of all your family and friends. So committed that you actively took measures to bring a child into the world thus starting a family. So committed that you supported every hobby, cheered at every victory, bit your tongue when they did something stupid, held their hand through medical procedures and screened their calls when their grandmother died and they were too overcome with grief to talk. What more can a person do? Sure she did not ask him every morning of he truly was coming back home to lucky ole her that night. She did not squeeeeeeeee when he walked past her line of vision. She did not jump his bones the moment he got into bed every night. But who does after 8 years of marriage? Really?
So, if Furry’s dad is unfulfilled by all means he does need to go. Because what he does not get is that the life he had with Furry and his mom was precious. It was his opportunity to be a hero and he did not find it rewarding enough to bother. That was what never quite sunk in with RB. HEE-ROE, dudes! To your sons you are like Batman and Superman and the Cat in the Hat all rolled into one! You are the strongest, the smartest, the bravest and the most handsome guy they know. And it is fleeting!
Eventually the baby will turn into a toddler and then a kid and then a pre-teen and THEN you will no longer be the schizzle of their wizzle. Oh yes, do not kid yourself, because our kids? They eventually do see our faults, but when they are young, they idolize us. They watch us, listen to us, mimic us and attempt to please us. All these incredible stages are so very precious that I do not understand how a man can walk out of his child’s life without so much as a backwards glance.
A male friend of mine once told me that there “wasn’t much [he] wouldn’t put up” with to maintain his position in his kid’s lives. “Sure sometimes I feel under appreciated,” he said, “I’m sure my wife has moments like that too. We annoy the hell out of each other at times, but at the end of the day when I look at my kids I see everything I ever loved about my wife reflected back at me. I fall in love with her all over again on a regular basis because of that.” (Gads, why didn’t I marry this man first?!)
Do not get the wrong idea, I am no advocate of “staying together for the children.” I am just saying that a lot of people seem to be forgetting that marriage is not all about them. Too many people divorce because they are bored, or because they think there is some great passionate “something” out there that they are missing. Those couples who manage to be passionate about the very family they are creating; who learn to see and respect their partner in these somewhat mundane roles; who can laugh even when the money’s tight and the job sucks and someone has gained some weight and someone else does not seem to be as neat any more – well, those are the people who truly “get it.”
Marriage is not all hearts and flowers. It is not always fun and it is not always easy. But that person who brings you the fresh roll of toilet paper? Hold on to them tight because it is a very lonely world out there without them.