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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You Had Your Time

Photo taken from brickellreporter.com

When I was growing up, I lived vicariously through my parents. They got to go out on dates, go to young married dinners and dances and all kinds of events and get-togethers on a regular basis. They had a healthy social life.

To every query about why I couldn't attend, Mom would always say, "Just wait until you're a young married! It'll be so fun." Then she and Dad would trot off to another young married pot luck or fancy ball or hootenanny. They've been to well over half of the world's countries. They've got friends in Bulgaria and Indonesia and Germany and half a dozen other places.

I did so much dancing growing up that in college I never needed a P.E. class. I was on toe in ballet. I was in a troupe for folk dance in high school. There were dance festivals and road shows and youth conferences and camps and dances out the wazoo.

Then about the second I got married, almost all of that dried up. There were no young married soirées. The dances withered away to one a year on Valentines Day and then to nothing. To dance at all we have to go chaperon our children's dances or sit at home with the TV. I feel like it's one huge bait-and-switch. Suddenly doing something fun was anathema if you weren't a teenager and looking for someone to be your future spouse. And if you had landed the colossal catch of the day, you didn't need any social life anymore.

Although if you lose your spouse for some reason, the fun starts back up again. What the heck?

Never mind that we're supposed to be witty and captivating at the end of the day when the Hubs comes home. We have to compete now with video and computer games, sports, hobbies, friends, computer and TV. And we have to do it all on the strength of one three-letter word, apparently. That's the be-all and end-all of marital glue. So if your life in that area is less then stellar, you're in for a rocky road.

What really got me thinking about this was a remark made to me the other day (not the first of its kind by any means). This person said, "We had our time. Now it's their time." So now I'm thinking, wait a minute. I don't remember any manual anywhere that said married adults are hereby banned from fun activities. What happens to the rest of a person's life? Am I just a selfish, self-absorbed sinner for not wanting to cash in all my "fun" chips and go sit on the sidelines next to the wallflower wall? Because believe me, I OWN that wall. That's where I spent all my growing up years.

Now I finally have a partner for dances and dinners and all kinds of other fun activities and suddenly I'm not supposed to do any of that anymore? Where is that written? We have to give up our "fun" card when we climb into that white dress? What happened to getting good exercise? What happened to finding something in common to do with your spouse that isn't necessarily "evil" TV or video games? What the heck are we supposed to do?

This is my thought. We have one life on this earth. There are no do-overs. If you stop reaching, striving, doing crazy things, going places, learning new cultures and moving, you calcify. You have nothing to talk about. You get closed into a tiny space and you line up to have your wings clipped. The thought of that wing-clipping line makes my heart shrivel.

If you have nothing much in common with your spouse, there is about a 50-50 chance you won't stay together. Certainly after your children are gone, that percentage gets steeper. Where is it written that when you have kids, your only role is taxi driver or maid?

Don't get me wrong. I'm definitely not advocating throwing your children off a bridge somewhere or letting them be raised by wolves. I'm not advocating you eating all the pie as your poor starving children stare at you with huge hungry eyes. I'm not advocating going hog wild and spending your children's inheritance gambling in Las Vegas every weekend.

What I do advocate is that a wife needs her husband to treat her like the queen of his castle. He needs to sometimes be her White Knight. Sometimes there are dragons to battle and at times those green beasties are your own offspring. Yeah. That's what I said. Your own kids can be the dragon. Sometimes you allow them to scrunch between you until they're running your whole life and edging you and your spouse apart little by little and you're left holding the spatula, wondering why you feel like a beaten down old hag.

Part of the problem with marriages going sour these days is the neglect of NEEDS. We're selfish if we pay too much attention to those needs of ours, but we wither up and blow away if we don't. Who takes care of our needs if we don't? What if Hubs either doesn't care about them or doesn't want to spend the time exploring those needs? After all, it's an emotion-fraught girly thing.

How big should the "Wife" room be in her husband's head? Are we seriously supposed to forget all our own needs (the need for love, for respect, for validation, for understanding) and simply work on our children's needs? If you try to address the "needs" thing, he tells you you aren't paying enough attention to the kids (comment deleted to keep the peace) and that feels like you've been hit in the head with a fly baseball.

What about our spouse's needs? Who is supposed to take care of those if we're just supposed to concentrate on the kids?

Do you see the fallacy in that sort of thinking? I do. At least I think I do. Maybe it's my wretched selfish self whining like a baby about growing up. Maybe. I'm still trying to figure it all out.

In my opinion we're being groomed by society in general to be less and less involved in our spouse's life. The media has waged a full-on war against the "healthy" family and the "healthy" marital relationship. I can count the number of good family examples in the media on one hand. In fact, I can't think of any right now. Father's roles are under attack from every direction. What's a guy to do when he's looking for role models in being a decent husband and man?

It's the same for women. We're being groomed to go for the "bad boy", the guy who is too macho to dance or cry or change diapers. All we know is the guy can shoot people while doing back-flips, has a ripped body and can satisfy in the sheets.

"You had your time."

Photo taken from openhand.org
No. I disagree. This whole life is to be grasped and squeezed like a handful of grapes. Every drop of the sweet juice is to savor, even when you're 95 and have to wear Depends and do your dancing with a walker. I want to go climbing for my birthday. I want to travel to the places I haven't gone yet and eat tentacles and snails and maybe even dog. I want to be dancing when my hair is snow white. I want to ride log rides when my teeth are threatening to fly out on the way down. I want to ride horses down the beach and explore undersea caves. And I'd like to do all of that with my loving spouse.

I don't want to go back to that wallflower wall and only live vicariously through my children. (disclaimer: I already do LOADS of living through my children. Every year I go to well over sixteen of their concerts. I've watched their choir performances, rejoiced at their National Honor Society inductions and clapped in their plays and dance performances. I've watched their road shows and skits by the dozens. I've been to their track meets and timed their swimming meets.)

Photo from della4adventure.blogspot.com
I don't want to sit at home and watch the stupid ball drop on New Years Eve because "I had my time and now it's theirs." I want my children to be able to say, "My parents are so wacky. Right now they're rappelling into a sunote (sp?) in Mexico." I want to dance off the tonnage I accrue writing. I want to learn things until the day I die. I have art competitions to win. I have books to write and sign--maybe even a movie to make. I want to go on a foreign mission or two (less you think I'm utterly selfish). I want to go on archaeological digs. I want to run in a race or two. Or swim in the English Channel.

I'm not done. I'm still alive.


  1. Yay! My daughter said something to me when she was 16, essentially that after you were an adult all fun ended. Yeah, she's 32 and doesn't feel that way.

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  3. I hear dueling viewpoints. I've heard the "You've had your day" rubbish twice at church now. One of those was from a woman at the sign in table at a youth dance. I had asked if she would mind if I went in to dance once with my son even though I was wearing pants. She told me that no son wanted their mom at their dance.
    Then she fed me the line. I thought it was rather pompous and arrogant that she thought she knew a single thing about my son. We dance at home pretty often, but it's tiny and cramped in here. So having a whole gymnasium to fling around in...heaven! I just never ask anymore. Why can't we have a dance?

  4. As your friend Heidi, I want to say that I hope to be one of those little old white hair ladies that is dancing in the halls with you some day, while we have the young people looking at us like we lost our minds, all the while we are laughing at some joke unknown to them. I have always appreciated your zest for life. Your time is just beginning, not ending.

  5. You guys can so be on my posse! We'll be the ones sweeping onto the dance floor in our boas, gigantic sunglasses, jingly belts and long slinky formals...;o) After all, THEY don't use the floor for anything but texting each other--which they can do in history class as usual.