May 11, 2010

The Good Life

Posted in AMT's Faves, If You Need a Good Cry, Life's Little Moments tagged , , , , at 9:01 am by autismmommytherapist

It’s my fourteenth wedding anniversary today, so being the phenomenal wife that I am I began searching exactly five days in advance for the perfect present for my spouse. Just for fun I had to investigate what the traditional gift would be (it’s ivory, now no longer recommended because of that whole “endangered elephant” thing, although ironically the proposed travel destination remains as Africa), which gave me absolutely no resolution whatsoever. I cheated and looked up the anniversaries before and after, and while completely at peace with missing out on textiles last year, I admit I am wistful at the proposed jaunts to France and Switzerland respectively (if there’s anything to that past lives theory, I most definitely spent a good portion of mine in Europe, drinking wassail and eating whatever chocolate I could get my preferably noble hands upon.)

Jeff and I however will remain local, and most likely will celebrate the blessed event at Chevy’s. There the margaritas flow freely, and we will probably employ a coupon for the guacamole app I will pretend he’ll share with me, and that I will instead consume entirely on my own. Our wedding remembrance day will be the culmination of four events in one week, namely that of Teacher Appreciation, my son’s multiple birthday fetes, Mother’s Day (still a high holy day in my family, just not necessarily geared toward this particular mom), and of course, our fourteenth wedding anniversary. So much giving, and sadly, most of it to people other than myself. I will be exhausted.

With tremendous effort however I will rally, and engage in a tradition I always make time for annually, the once-a-year extraction of my wedding albums which are tightly sequestered between the three albums I have of my pre-child existence, and the thirty I’ve created since the birth of my first son. I enjoy remembering that day, as well as the engagement year leading up to it and the fabulous honeymoon that followed. Every time I crack those leather-bound and embarrassingly dusty tomes I search the face of that twenty-something girl, remembering how innocent she was, how completely unprepared she was for the rites and rituals of marriage, of parenthood. I harbor a deep tenderness toward her, and am glad she didn’t know what was coming down the road. Given who I was then, I’m not sure she would have left the dressing room and descended the long, windy staircase to her groom and the pre-wedding photo shoot that would enable her to partake more fully in the upcoming cocktail hour.

If I could travel back in time, hold her hand, and divulge to my younger self what was in store for her (if she’d let me), I’d tell her this. That her extremely ambitious goals of marrying a good man she could trust, one she liked to kiss and who made her laugh (which by the way were the same requirements I had for all of my boyfriends, which perhaps doesn’t say much about my expectations in general), would come to fruition. That this man (and at least with the first child, a posse of highly trained fertility specialists), would eventually give her the two children she so craved and longed to hold. I would tell her they’d be boys, that she’d get over the whole “I’ll never have a daughter” thing, and would eventually be grateful for the plethora of testosterone so rampant in her household. I would share with her that one of her worst fears would come true, that there would be something wrong with her babies, something that made them suffer, and that even with her indomitable will she wouldn’t be able to “fix it”. I would also inform her (when she took a pause in her hysterical sobbing) that she and that man she was marrying would work it all out. That eventually, after many long years of struggle, things would turn out okay.

I’d tell her that they’d bond during the infertility years, would take even most of the multiple miscarriages in stride, and would engage in an “us against our reproductive organs” mentality that would bring them even closer. I’d explain to her that long before the first signs of something gone awry would manifest in their baby that parenthood would temporarily rip them apart, that these “later in life parents” would have a difficult time learning what it means to relinquish all vestiges of personal time, but would eventually work through that too. I would instruct her that the awareness, the irrevocable knowledge that something is permanently disconnected in their firstborn son would initially cause a rift between them once again, but through their love for one another and their commitment to their child, that cleft would be healed as well. I would convey to her the first time would be good practice for the second, and that they’d cycle through the stages of grief faster with their last son, would be able to support one another sooner.

I’d forewarn her that there wouldn’t be a great deal of traditional romantic gestures, few surprises, fewer flowers, reduced tokens of affection. I’d console her with the information that her husband’s love for her would manifest in actions, from the way he cares for her sons in the middle of the night so she can sleep, to doing his own laundry, to conducting his weekly coupon-fueled grocery shopping which greatly increases her free time (I know, now I’m just showing off). I’d inform her that he’d one day read every word she’s ever written in regards to that book she’d one day pen about her experiences with her sons, and that their marriage would survive his instruction for her tenuous acquisition of the technological savvy required to operate her blog. I’d reassure her that she would find these activities far sexier than any flora or fauna he could bestow upon her.

I’d hug her, and when she stopped sniffling I’d look her in the eyes and tell her marriage was work. It would never be perfect. There would be fights, and no matter what they were superficially about, they would somehow always be about the same underlying issue. Every marriage has at least one.

But I’d also reassure her that her initial desires would come true. He would remain a good man. After knowing him for almost twenty years, she would still like to kiss him. And perhaps for her, most importantly, no matter what, he’d continue to make her laugh.

Then I’d wipe her raccoon eyes, reapply her mascara, and tell her to get downstairs so most of the wedding photos could be shot, and she could eventually partake wholeheartedly of the free bar and pigs in a blanket her soon-to-be groom fought so vociferously to include in the cocktail hour menu. If I knew her at all, she’d rise, take a deep breath, palm a couple of the Hershey’s kisses so conveniently available on her dressing table, and descend to her destiny.

And despite everything, from the aggravating minutiae of marriage to the soul-sucking events of parenthood, she’d find her older, but perhaps not wiser self, to be honest in her disclosures. Things really would work out. They would be happy. She would be happy.

There would be, for all of her loves, a good life.

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25 Comments »

  1. Mary Craig said,

    Loved it!!!!! Thanks Kim this was great on a morning after my birthday & Mother’s Day when I sometimes wallow in self-pity because I would have thought things would be different by now. My age when uttered aloud sounds so old (which is why we won’t speak of it here) and I feel like I had so much more planned!
    I had planned that my son would already be speaking in full sentences, my daughter would be over her sassy phase and my husband would instinctively know what I needed from him. Nobody tells you that marriage isn’t always wedding gowns, bouquets & tuxedos but there are days I wonder if it was more that I just didn’t want to hear it!! LOL After our intial “mourning period” and my husband snapping out of his denial we vowed to each other NOT to become part of the 80% divorce rate of Autistic parents; glad you decided to join us too. Its not always easy but my mom told me one time after I asked her how she survived marriage after 44 years; she said I don’t like your father every day but I love him enough to give him the benefit of the doubt for tomorrow. Here’s to lots more tomorrows for all of us!! 🙂
    Happy Anniversary! Happy Mother’s Day (to both you & your mom)! Happy Birthday to your son!

    • I LOVED your mom’s comment. I have to remember that one! Glad this piece was a pick-me-up for you. It’s funny, it’s never the holidays that get me down, it’s the little surprises in life that sometimes catch me off guard. Guess I’ll be grateful for that! Happy Birthday to your son too!

  2. Anita said,

    Oh truly beautiful! This one should be printed, framed and displayed somewhere. I loved reading this. Thank you.

  3. misifusa said,

    Happy Anniversary…and many more years of happiness and of course, margaritas…xo

  4. Kathy Milmore said,

    Happy Anniversary!!!

  5. courtenay adams said,

    Oh, Lord. I am weeping a bit, now. I remember that beautiful, twenty something year old girl whose skin was just as glowing as the satin of her gown and who was so very happy. Your words to your younger self are a wonderful enchantment and should be an annual ritual for all of us. Grateful and at peace with what the past 14 years have brought you, I would call this marriage a success. You were, happily, full of chemicals for your husband and full of good expectations. There were no deals made beforehand that were warped, no legal documents to resent, just joy over the day leading up to a honeymoon and a beach! Beaches and Jeff still make you happy!!

    • As always, you make me laugh. I can’t imagine what would have been in a pre-nup. My CD collection, perhaps? Thanks for what you said. I could really use a childless Bermuda vacation right about now…

  6. Nels said,

    Kim, in two simple words…… YOU ROCK. Happy Mothers Day and Happy Anniversary.

  7. Chad said,

    Wow.

  8. Louise van der Meulen said,

    Oh Kim, you make me smile and cry at the same time…I wish I had the ability to write like you. (I told Bianca that I am going to use her one day to write my story.) Hendrik’s sister (48) had two brain aneurysms today. One raptured. She is still alive. I pray that Hendrik will be forced, through another sister’s tragedy, to change the way his life is heading.

    I also want to be able to say, as a famous author once wrote: “Things really would work out. They would be happy. She would be happy.
    There would be, for all of her loves, a good life.” 🙂

    • Louise, I am so, so, sorry. I’m assuming this is not the sister we’ve spoken of so often? Maybe this will wake him up. Please keep me informed, and tell the girls I’m sorry too.

      I’ll help you with your memoirs too! That would be one interesting book my friend!

  9. shelbel said,

    Beautiful. My heart broke a little as I read it. Parts were very familiar and I appreciated your honesty and graciousness toward your husband. The grief of ASD still hits me (and us) a lot. Little twinges of sadness that the ASD is still here. Our boy has not been cured. He’s doing great but still struggles so socially and meltdowns rule our mornings and evenings.

    Thanks for illustrating that your marriage and family is a real one full of ups and downs…and a lot of LOVE.

    Thank you!

  10. Cindy said,

    That 20 something girl grew into a strong, remarkable woman that continually impresses me with her warmth, humor and strength. Happy Anniversary.

  11. Angie said,

    I missed your anniversary! Belated Happy Anniversary to you!

    And… you made me cry.

  12. Jennifer Haftel said,

    That was the most beautiful love letter I have ever read. I am so deeply moved. Your letter honored both you and your husband. I truly believe anyone getting married should have to read this letter before taking their vows. Truly!


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