I hate to admit it, but Gavin was right. Last night we got in to it. I was feeling blue...thinking of all the ways that getting married at the age of 19 had ruined me. It's not that I had big plans back then that were foiled...I was too young to even have plans. At the age of 19 I was just too young to understand the finality of marriage, and how it would completely change my life. I'm against it now...marriage under the age of 30. Really. How can you go from being a child in your parent's home, where your identity is one that has been molded by them, to a marriage partner whose identity is shared with another person? In between those two identities, you need to find who you are on your own...without family or spouse. And that was something that I did not do. I had an inkling of what I could be....imagined where I could go and what I could accomplish.
But the lure of stability, and sex, and playing house, and a mysterious older man who loved me was just too much. I caved. I would be lying if I told you that I didn't regret it from day one. Regret it from moment one. Regret it from the day before moment one. Isn't that interesting that you can regret something before it even happens?! But so is the path of a people-pleaser...someone who is terrified of disappointing...or maybe it was that again, I was 19- and did not have a clue what I was getting myself in to, or how to dig myself out. I made one attempt- told his mother that we wanted to postpone. But she reasoned that she had already bought the plane tickets. And so it was on...and the rest of my life would be changed.
Now...11 or some odd years later, I know what I missed out on. I have seen the life that I covet lived by other people. I have witnessed friends going to graduate schools, pursuing rewarding and fulfilling careers. I now realize the countries that I have never been to, the trips I've never taken...friends that I never made- that one especially stings. Then there are the life lessons that I would have learned, the ideas that would have formed. All of these losses are painful. A life lost.
I did want kids. I did want the family life. But it was to come later...after all of these explorations and journeys had already occurred. I would be wise and patient...able to teach my children all that I had learned. Instead, the kids came only a few years after the wedding. As the result of sex and an infrequent birth-control routine. Again...a loss. With the positive pregnancy stick, came the feeling all over again of what I would be sacrificing. I was just beginning to find myself. I was attending school, enjoying classes, working and succeeding, making friends, and gaining confidence. And then the pregnancy test. I was twenty three. Things like this weren't just supposed to happen. There was supposed to be some "grand plan". So why was it that my grand plan was in direct conflict with my desires? I did not want to be a mom...not now. I was consoled by my husband. He couldn't understand my disappointment. Wasn't this supposed to be every girl's dream-come-true? And so the baby came. I deferred most of the mothering to my Mom...and continued to work- where I found my greatest sense of accomplishment and self. Then a move across country and another baby, and another move and another baby and that is where I find myself today.
Motherhood has unhinged and formed me, simultaneously. I have, for the most part, been downright shocked at my ability to love and the love that is continuously and generously heaped upon me. Along the way I realized that trying to get back my youth and the things not done during that time period was a maddening and fruitless exercise. I was now a mother...something I had wanted for my life...and I now needed to embrace it whole-heartedly. Just because my children came at a time when I was not prepared to be a mother, did not make them any less worthy of my full effort and attention. So I enjoyed them...more and more as we went along...every day catching bigger glimpses of the magnitude of their souls. There were many bumps along the way. My need to control everything was an underlying source of unhappiness for everyone. I now think that that need to control my environment, and everyone in it, must have sprung from my feelings of my circumstances being out of my control. And so, as I lamented to Gavin, about my "giving up parts of my life" he gave me a reality check. Yes, we were idiots... We shouldn't have gotten married so young. Heaven knows that my Mother tried to dissuade me, but that just made me want it all the more (surprise, surprise). In a perfect world, we'd call a "Do-Over". I would live out all those life-experiences that I now wish for my then-young self, and I'd get married only when I had found myself. But that is not possible, and so I learn from the errors of my youth.
And Gavin reminds me that there is almost nothing that is out of my reach at this point. I can still go to school, all be it on a much slower path. I can still travel, only now we take sitters or leave kids with Grandma. Oh yes, there are things that are lost forever. The crazy indiscretions of youth, the leisure of all-the-time-in-the-world, schooling with no end in mind but only learning for the sake of learning. He's right...The grass is always greener, and it's easy to blame the circumstances. Curse the past and wish for different. But where does that get me, besides really depressed? My circumstances are not my ideal. Things have not gone how I would have planned. But, maybe this path can be equally rewarding...Maybe it is true, that there are many paths to the top of the mountain. And while mine is far from perfect...the start may have been rocky...I have these four amazing hiking partners who are with me along the trail. And they do make the steep hills more bearable. Eventually I will loose most of these companions. They will break off to explore their own trails. So, I need to slow down and make this journey together memorable...drink it in...explore every bend in the trail, and smell the perfume of the flowers along the path.
Really, the truth is that when I complain about Gavin, or my unlived life- I am really lamenting my lack-of-life that I live on a day-to-day basis. I need to get up, wake up, live my best life. I need to be one with the earth, work my heart, work my mind, connect with people, read all the best, cook with the best food, keep my home organized so that we all feel calm, travel as a family, be a great wife, connect sexually, treat everyone like royalty, and magnify myself as a human with great potential. When I complain, THIS is actually what I am aching for. I will not find it in Gavin. I can only find it in my self. There is no other partner that would "give" all this to me. Maybe someone would make me feel awakened and more motivated to do it all...but it all comes back to me. I can do it for my kids, and I can do it for myself.