Monday, August 22, 2005

I love my husband. I love my child. I love the image of myself as wife and mother. Problem is, it usually is just that – an image.

I have generally felt like a lousy wife and a mediocre mother. But there they are, plugging away next to me – my husband and daughter – loyal as ever, coming back for more.

I was born in 1970 to a very non-traditional mother. It was like being raised by a twelve year old trapped in an adult body – which was great, until I emotionally matured beyond my own parent. Her gifts to me, however, were my unfailing self-confidence and desire to succeed. She told me, without reservation, I could be what ever I wanted. She modeled that a woman with a college education could support herself and her children.

As a wife, she was abysmal. She did not clean, she did not cook. Her first husband, my father, shared with her a love hate relationship that lasted for ten years. This relationship ended with a bang over the three bean salad that she was going to prepare to take to the Marine Corp picnic in 1979. After a stellar argument about above mentioned 3 bean salad, she threw everything she could lay her hands on into the back of a 1973 GMC truck and drove to parts unknown, AKA Vermont. Did I mention that the final arguement came over 3 bean salad, possibly the foulest food substance on earth? Apparently my biological father thought so too - ergo the break up.

Her second husband, my stepfather, was a generally passive aggressive man, much quieter than my father. His adoration of my mother did her no service, and they become a closed circle unto each other, finally suffocating their marriage after 24 years of incestuous togetherness.

Fast forward to me – circa 1996. I am in love with an intelligent successful man, ten years my senior. He has a Phd! He has nice stuff! He likes foreign movies! He doesn't drink beer! I am a college graduate with a decent career ahead of me. We get married in the traditional pomp and circumstance. Nearly immediately, I begin to fantasize about killing my husband. My fantasies grow increasingly more lucid. I, wisely, decide to go back to therapy. My husband does not know that I am planning to bump him off with increasing frequency.

When I do talk about this with one or two friends, I am greeted with silence. Most newlyweds don't want to kill their spouse. Well, at least not ones in my neighborhood. I hate this man. I want him gone. He has turned me into a wife and I will not stand for it. “But this is your honeymoon period”, they say. I snort derisively. Honeymoon, my ass.

Therapy helps for while. I see that my husband has done very little to me – except exist in my sphere of existance – and marry me. After less than a year of therapy and marriage, I decide to have a baby. The decision is made in a thunderbolt of certainty – during stitches being inserted into my kneecap in 1997.

My decision to be a mother came in the ER as the dude on call stitched my knee up - even as I am saying "I can still feel that! I can sill feel that!"

Sadly, I missed my chance to see this for the metaphor that this decision would become....

0 Baleful Regards:

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