04 February 2009

Your daily dose of Eng Lit 101 and Neuroses 401

One of the most difficult legs in my CSPP journey to date was the off-ramp that took me from being a Person in the World to being . . . here. All the time.

I'm feeling a little conflicted here...

Not long after I arrived . . . here, when I had just begun to feel quite keenly that a gilded cage (i.e. a large and lovely parsonage) is still a prison, I was subjected to a most unhelpful conversation. A fellow was reminiscing about how his wife had taken a leave of absence from her career after each of their kids was born. When she was on those extended maternity leaves, he found her to be “sorta boring.” Because, you know, she hadn’t been out and done anything interesting or talked to anyone or anything. (The wife seconded this observation.)

Hypersensitive as I admittedly was, this little exchange was mental freak-out primetime for me. To recreate that particular mental maelstrom: Mix equal parts indignation at such jerkiness with wretched worry that I myself would become boring to my husband. I wished I could’ve been just righteously indignant, but niggling insecurity at my new role whispered reminders about those days—those confounded, compounded days—in which the Poop Report, and possibly a passable supper, were all I had to offer my husband upon his daily return from being a Person in the World. (For the record, when my mental freak-out later went verbal, I recall that excellent husband reassuring me that even our baby’s poop, and my report thereof, would always fascinate and enthrall him. Good man, that.)

I’ve since mellowed into the proper response to that fellow’s remarks: “How sad for them.” Sure, there are still days a-plenty when I feel a little…mousy? Caged? Housewifely? Mind-numbed? But I don’t waste any more time worrying about becoming boring to my husband. I actually used to think that Dad would somehow find it wearisome to end his long day by coming home to us, always us, with our variations on the same old themes of cacophonous chaos and maternal madness (all senses of the word). ‘Twas a pleasant surprise indeed when I finally verbalized my trepidation and learned that I had been exactly wrong. Knowing that I’m here, yes, always here, energizes him. He looks forward to coming home to us (though he has, understandably, stated a preference for coming home to Sane, Happy Wife over some of the other manifestations). Suddenly, being always here became a bit more bearable: it matters. It’s not just what I do because it’s cheaper than daycare, or even because it’s the best thing for the kids: it’s a gift I can offer my best friend, who so willingly gives his everything, his very self, to me. (Note to self: gifts are better received when rendered graciously, not grudgingly… :P ).

Surprise! It's me!

To illustrate the point that dudes across the centuries have relied upon knowing that their wives were tending the proverbial home fires, and have thought not less but indeed more of them for it, recall John Donne’s conceit of marriage as a compass (the geometry kind) in “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”:

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to airy thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two;
Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if the other do. . . .

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run;
Thy firmness makes my circle just,
And makes me end where I begun.


Rebekah said...

AH! I have that "I can't believe he said that jerky thing does my husband think that?" disorder too. :P

And thanks for more great poetry.

Joy said...

My dh has said similar things--about my being always here, that is, not becoming boring. :) I spend all day feeling like a sinking ship, tossed about by the ebb and flow of tantrums and pandemonium...then he comes home and insists I'm not the vessel but the anchor. All of matter of perspective.

Dakotapam said...

Mine prefers me home...on the days that I help my fellow man at the hospital in order to pay the ever-growing tuition bills he is rather cranky. And he thinks my job is boring. Is it a sin to enjoy the one hour of my 12 hour shift that I am blissfully alone, with my iPod and a cup of coffee? I am at the point where I value my time helping those outside the Thompson home and enjoy being loved and needed at home, but this is my season for that, things will change again in another season, I am sure.

Pam said...


Gauntlets said...

You're so great. Thanks for this.