Always Be My Baby

Last night, my daughter came home from work, stood in my bedroom doorway, and confessed about a personal life crisis then started to cry. I was lying in my bed, so I held out my arms and she came running across the room and climbed up. It was freezing in our house and she wasn’t wearing a sweater, so I held up the covers and let her crawl inside. I wrapped my arms around her, stroked her hair, and let her cry. Sometimes, that’s the only thing a mother can do.

It does not matter that she is 22, has her own place, pays for her car, and has a full-time job. She is still my baby. My place is not to judge her “bad choices” (her words, not mine). My place is to offer comfort and safety in the storm of her life. I told her that we all make stupid choices at 22. That she shouldn’t worry unless she’s 30 and making the same bad choices. That as far as life crises go, this is far from the worst thing that could happen. That she needs to realize she is worth so much more than she values herself. That this isn’t the last life mistake she’ll experience.

I couldn’t help but be proud of all the emotional progress she’s made on her own lately. Even just a few months ago, she would never have told me and instead, would have suffered in silence. She finally talks to me and I’m not about to destroy that by judging her. I think that’s the mistake that a lot of parents make when it comes to their kids not talking to them. What we forget is that we wouldn’t judge a toddler for choking on a small toy, because they don’t know any better. The same thing applies to teenagers and even young adults. They are biologically stupid because their brain is mush. While we think they should know better, the truth is that the judgement center of the brain is essentially jello at that age, so they physically can’t distinguish between what they should and shouldn’t do.

Today and tomorrow, she is spending the night over here so I can make sure she wakes up early in the morning, and so we can have pancakes for breakfast. I’ve been craving gingerbread pancakes. She requested that I make some gingersnaps. There’s nothing like cold weather to make her want baked goods and that’s an easy thing for me to provide.

As she continues to move forward, I am right behind her, ready to catch her when she falls. Not if, but when. Because we all fall, no matter what our age. We all make stupid choices. We all need a warm cookie and hot cocoa every now and again. And no matter how old we are, we all need our mommies. Not all of us have one, but we all need one. I’m eternally grateful that I can be the mommy that my daughter needs right now. I am her mommy, and she will always be my baby.

 

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Dance With Me

Today was an unqualified disaster. It’s my fault for having expectations and looking for outside validation. On the plus side, I’m able to recognize that it’s my issue and I was able to self-validate enough that I didn’t fall apart.

All week long, I’ve looked forward to attending an art fair with my husband. After I told him that I needed for us to go on a date, he reluctantly agreed to go. We rarely go anywhere other than to lunch and the grocery store on Saturdays, so I woke up excited. I took extra time in the shower, put on makeup, styled my hair, put in my contacts, and spent more than 30 seconds deciding what to wear. In other words, I treated it like it was a date.

I looked damn good today, too. I’ve lost enough weight that I finally fit into my Chicos jeans, one of my weight loss goals. I’m thin enough to be able to close my buttery soft black lambskin leather jacket. I have all new makeup and the proper brushes to apply it. I do not have a single wrinkle on my face in spite of being 46. I felt sexy and beautiful.

He had to work for a bit this morning, so when I was dressed and ready, I texted to let him know. When he got home and came inside to change shirt and shoes, I pointed out that I was in my Chicos jeans, to which he responded, “Uh huh.” I not so passively and only slightly aggressively said, “Wow honey, you look beautiful today and really good in those jeans.” He laughed and said he would just let me compliment myself because I’m better at it. I let that slide because I wanted to have fun today.

It continued with him informing me that he gave up his “people who work on Saturday” free lunch. I was truly appreciative that he would rather have lunch with me than with his workmates that he eats with three to five days a week. At least, I chose to interpret it that way.

We got to the fair and he complained about the music. The music wasn’t part of the event we were attending, plus it was awful, so I let that slide, too. The fair was tiny and we were in and out in minutes, so I suggested we go to a little tea room downtown for lunch. It’s one of my favorite places and their food is incredible. It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive, either. I think $26 including tip is nothing for a lunch date.

He complained about the price. He complained about his sandwich. He did like his soup. Finally, I told him that he was acting like my mother, who could never find anything good to say about the places that I would pick whenever we would eat out. A restaurant would have to be her idea or she would be rude to the staff and bitch about the food.

At that point, I gave up. I ate my salad in silence and tried not to cry as I processed the day in my head. I knew that having expectations was a recipe for disaster, but I thought this was such a simple thing, surely it wasn’t asking too much. We go to lunch all the time and have wonderful conversations, so that should have been the easy part, but it wasn’t. I finished my salad and we left and came straight home where I promptly put on my pajamas and laid down for a nap. Being sad makes me tired, so I ended up sleeping for four hours.

To me, a date with someone with whom I am in a relationship is essentially foreplay. Stimulating conversation with an attractive man is arousing for me. I’ve been having too many fantasies about flirting lately, and I wanted to have an affair with my husband. The entire time I was getting dressed, I imagined how our day would end, but as each moment of the day played out exactly opposite of how I wanted it to go, sex got further and further from my mind.

When he didn’t compliment me when he got home, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I know that he doesn’t understand how nice it is to be sexually appreciated. But I remember other dates with other guys who told me I was beautiful and sexy and looked amazing in whatever outfit I was wearing.

When I fell in love with a relatively pricey pair of earrings ($30 for punched tin ovals), I decided not to get them and walked away. I kinda wished that he would insist on buying them for me, but he didn’t. That was fine as I know money is a touchy subject with him, but I remember other dates with other guys who did insist on getting me whatever little trinket I coveted while shopping together.

When he did not engage in any conversation with me at the restaurant, I did not take it personally. We talk all the time and have great conversations, and a marriage shouldn’t be judged by a single afternoon. I wished he would talk to me about movies (even though he thinks they all suck) or politics or even his new computer parts that he just bought. I know flirting isn’t his favorite thing, but I remember other dates with other guys where the time was filled with flirtatious, sexually charged banter and we couldn’t wait to leave a place and get to somewhere safe to rip each other’s clothes off.

Fortunately, I also remember that I didn’t end up with other guys for all the same reasons that I did marry my husband. He is good, kind, ethical, hard working, and wicked smart. I have no doubts that he loves me, finds me attractive, and wouldn’t mind if I truly wanted to buy a $30 pair of earrings. However, I understand why affairs happen. I understand that desperate desire to feel that falling in love feeling, even when you’re not actually falling in love. I understand wanting to be wanted. At least I know I never, ever have to worry about my husband having an affair though, as he’d never get a second date, or even manage to get to the end of the first one.

Today, I did learn that it is much better for me to go somewhere alone, have a fantastic time, and come home in a great mood. I also learned that trying to push my husband beyond his comfort zone is asking too much, even if it doesn’t seem that way to me. I remembered that looking good is something I should do for myself, not for someone else. I remembered that fantasy is called fantasy because it’s something that’s unlikely to happen, otherwise it would be reality. And I learned to stop waiting for someone to ask me to dance, even if that someone is my husband.

Mrs. Pinocci’s Guitar

Ever since I wrote the fantasy post on Monday, I’ve been in an oddly discontented mood; restless, distracted, disconnected, and completely disinterested in physical contact. While it seems to have finally passed, I had to wonder at why this mood reared up in the first place.

After my breakthroughs with the unfillable void, the unattainable person, and how the unattainable person cannot fill the unfillable void, I’ve felt an internal peace that I’ve never had before. All that energy and thought that I constantly put forth to try to attain the unattainable has been freed to think about and do other things. Of course, now I have to find other things to fill my time and this week I was mostly successful at that.

I spent time with friends all week long. Tuesday I met Rob for coffee and knitting. Wednesday, I went to the yarn shop for a trunk show and knitted for a while with Laura and Wendy. Thursday, I met Laura for coffee and knitting in the morning, then Cyndi for dinner and more knitting. Friday, I met up with Rob again for dinner. I missed spending time with my friends, as my major depressive episode kept me trapped in the house for months, so I’m happy to be back to “normal.” When I spend time with my knitting friends, I am inspired to knit myself. It soothes my anxiety and eases my depression. Being with them is a good thing.

So this pervasive feeling of disconnected discontent didn’t make any sense. My husband is as wonderful as always, my children are doing well, my pain level is under control since I’m swimming again; yet there it hung, a cloud of gray coloring even the best of times.

I believe that is exactly what’s wrong, though. My life is extremely level, no up and down roller coaster ride of emotional drama. My psyche just doesn’t know what to do with itself, so it’s attempting to manufacture drama where there is none. The difference is that now I am aware of it. I know there is nothing wrong, and I realize that this is purely a figment of my imagination.

Living a drama-free life is unfamiliar. Having boundaries is equally unfamiliar. Taking care of myself is awkward and takes a conscious effort. I’ve bought makeup for the first time in forever, I spend time thinking about my clothes, I attempt to look put together when I leave my house.

Being on this side of things makes me realize how and why poverty and trauma affect people’s ability to be successful. If I had all this free time and thought when I was in college, I likely would have done better, learned more, went further. I am frustrated at all the effort wasted on things and people that just don’t matter. I literally spent years pining for relationships that were never going to work; I look at my life now and know that I am so much better off without those people I thought I couldn’t live without.

I’ve also spent years longing to play the guitar. I played in high school and was decent, although never fantastic. I could accompany my singing and that was about it, but it satisfied my musically creative side. I can’t play the guitar anymore, though. My fibromyalgia severely affects my fingertips, making them ultra sensitive. Pressing down on a thin wire with the tip of my finger is impossibly painful.

Last night, I realized that Matt’s piano is just sitting in the playhouse, collecting dust. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano. I mean, I do read music since I played the violin for nine years and was in choir for most of my primary and secondary education. Knitting has helped me learn to coordinate my left and right hand to do different things at the same time. Piano keys are smooth and a digital piano requires little pressure to make the keys go down. If I put forth even a fraction of the effort and time that I have been wasting on things that don’t matter, I could master the basics in a few months.

I fell asleep listening to music and dreaming of playing some of my favorite songs. On Monday I’m going to the local sheet music store to buy whatever “Piano for Dummies” type book they recommend. I am going to focus all this excess….emotion…into something tangible that matters to me. Something that will create rather than destroy, which is exactly what manufactured drama does. It destroys marriages, friendships, and can even affect employment. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to build something that will last.

Today, the feeling of discontent appears to have lifted. I’ve got something to look forward to that will expand my mind and challenge me in a different way. I spent most of my adult life thinking I was too old to learn the piano, as everyone I knew who played had done so for decades. But in the back of my mind, I could always hear Cheryl Wheeler talk about Mrs. Pinocci picking up the guitar at age 57 and how she’d now been playing for twenty years.

Better late than never, I guess.

The Exes and the Oh, Oh, Ohs, They Haunt Me

No matter how perfect one’s marriage or relationship is, a little temptation (or a lot) must fall. A great marriage doesn’t make you suddenly less human, less urge-filled, less wanting. While most days, the decision to love is a daily one, sometimes it is a moment by moment thing, much like the decision to drink. Especially for someone who is the relationship equivalent of an alcoholic, always looking for redemption or fulfillment  in the next person to walk through the door. That’s where the term “commitment” comes into play, but that’s a different post.

Temptation can come from anywhere, but most often it’s from facebook or other social media. In the days before facebook, I rarely saw anyone outside of my work environment. Once I stopped working, I was confined to the couch. Not many people to meet there, let me tell you. But facebook opens up the world at the touch of a fingertip (or ten fingertips, as I know how to type properly).

Temptation does not require reciprocation. Lust can be completely in one’s own mind. Yes, I lust. 99.999999% of that lust is directed at my husband, so I’m doing good, but every now and again there is a niggle of “what if.”

Fantasies of clandestine meetings, longing looks, “accidental” touches…they all run through my head. The idea of having someone for whom to dress up, put on makeup, and wear heels is an appealing one. Seeing that look of appreciation in someone’s eyes when I walk in the door and take their breath away? Yeah, I miss that. I do arouse my husband, but that’s not quite the same as making him breathless with my mere presence, panting with anticipation.

I miss the power of being an attractive woman. Don’t get me wrong, I am FAR from beautiful in any sense of the word. I was always cute, sometimes pretty, and finally settled safely into the realm of attractive as an adult. But I’m also witty and smart, quippy, sassy, and I know how to flirt. I can use my deep brown eyes, smooth shapely legs, full lips, and a ridiculous talent for innuendo to drive a man wild with desire without ever touching him. I’ve done it. Many times. But marriage deletes that power. To be fair, it’s not actually marriage’s fault. It’s really familiarity that breeds the contempt of flirtation.

The other day, I asked Ron who he fantasizes about and he said he doesn’t, because it would be disrespectful to me. While that’s incredibly sweet, I told him that I would not feel disrespected if he thought about some other woman while being the master of his domain. I think about Jensen Ackles on a regular basis, and I infinitely respect my husband.

I’m lucky in that my husband can still make my heart skip a beat. The touch of his lips on mine still sparks electric tingles. Not all marriages are so lucky. That’s where fantasy comes in, but it’s important to remember that it is just that…fantasy. Not reality.

Reality is the dishes and the laundry. Eating noises and bathroom smells. Sagging skin and stretchmarks, hair in places it shouldn’t be, razor bumps, morning breath, marks in underwear…all those things are real and part of any and every relationship. Nothing is perfect except for in our imagination.

However, none of that stuff matters when you see a sexy pic of someone on facebook. Reality slips away and fantasy takes over. Yes, I am having a hot, steamy, sexy affair in my head. Does that make me unfaithful? I don’t think so. I would never, ever act on it. I never even talk to the object of my fantasies. They are just that…the object of my fantasies.  I have a lifetime of memories of the sexually charged start of plenty of doomed romances to fuel my daydreams; no need to add to the mix.

In a world where the nebulous”he” always knows what to say to turn me on, worships my body in ways that I literally can only dream of, touches me exactly where and how I long to be touched, whispers to me of all *his* erotic fantasies about me…that’s a world that does not and forever shall not exist. It does not make me love or want my husband any less. In fact, it often makes me want him more.

Fantasy is the food of the not so thrilling marriage, or the candy bar of the fulfilling one. I ask no forgiveness when I occasionally unwrap the corner of that secret forbidden sweet stashed at the back of the cabinet and take a tiny nibble.

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