"Life has no backspace key." - Kati Bach (16)
I am 44 years old, and have been married for 19 years.
And, I just realized that I have been a failure in my attempt to be a good wife to the man who chose me above all others.
Talk about a 2x4 to the head.
When John and I met, we both worked, He was already in management and I was just starting out. As our family grew by one, then two we made the decision to work opposite shifts to keep them out of daycare.
That was the beginning of the end for me, I see now.
Because of our different shifts we chose to sleep in different rooms. Neither of us could handle going to bed in the same room, and then being woken up in the middle of our respective "night" when the other came home and got ready for bed.
This began a long routine of me putting te kids down, or at least locking them in their room (to be honest), then I would go to sleep. John would come home, te kids would be up and ready to party, and they would.
Then, they would all sleep late (John worked swings) and I would tiptoe out of the house in the morning to make sure no one was woken up.
This created several challenges.
We created children who are night owls, which makes traditional school a huge challenge because they cannot concentrate at those times of day.
It also created a wedge between me and my family for years, as I felt I was having to do "all the work" (homework, bathing,, bedtime, etc) and John was able to have what I termed Camp Fun Daddy after hours when he got home.
I created that wedge, driving it deeper into my psyche over the years resulting in my feeling at times, isolated from the three of them in most situations. As you an guess, that created resentment in my heart alsomng with other emotional responses I am in no ways proud of.
By the time Kati was 14 or so, she could barely stand to be around me, let alone talk to me. And I don't blame her. She had taken on so very much of the house, on\ top of school and being a teenager. And I was nothing but whiny and demanding, I felt. And the guilt of being a mom with a disability?
Don' get me started. But again. it was all in my own head.
The funny thing is, as I look back honestly with myself, I believed we were happy. The perfect, normal family And we were happy in some ways, but when I was Kati's age, I found refuge down the street at a friend's house, far away from a disagreeable relationship with my own mom. I realized that Kati did not have that relief, and in a way I was sad for her.
But then, I realized it didn't need to be that way.
Why did we have to repeat things? We didn't.
And I was determined somehow to get my daughter back. And my family. And be happy.
What a small, but powerful word.
In the business world, I soared. Promotion after promotion came trough, with more responsibility and hours being piled on. John and I made the decision to take the opportunity, while the kids were young, for him to effectively retire, to travel and live in various places to give our family what we thought were important experience and exposure to different cultures.
What we created, I see now, besides those important experiences were two kids who don't have the ability to know "home". When asked "Where are you from?", they don't know how to answer.
They struggle with feeling a part of things, because of the the fear that once they get involved, we will be leaving again.
Do I think that we made the best decision we could at the time?
Is hindsight 20/20?
But, back to my story...
At work, I was the "go-to" girl. My bosses knew I would get the job done, no matter what. Companies came to me to improve their bottom line, with quality a huge concern,. Recruiters knew my reputation and sought me out. And I delivered. Well.
At home, I was there less and less. No one sought me out, John handled it all extremely well without me.
Kidney failure rocked my world three years ago, and my job was lost to disability two years ago. Suddenly, no one was "going to" me for anything. My sense of isolation ad resentment grew, with a huge helping of self-added guilt for being "that disabled mom" as a topping.
I began to read and interact with some mommy bloggers that are also stay at home moms. I marveled at what seemed to be the sense of peace they had and that existed in their family. There is a happiness in doing for others- cooking meals, knitting, sewing. homeschooling. A whole host of things. And I would think, "Wow. I wish my kids had had that experience." I became more intrigued with this concept, yet it also fed my insecurities and failure-driven mindset.
I withdrew into my own sense of disability, but would get upset at the mere mention of the word "disabled".
My sense of gratitude for anything was gone, and I am sure that living with me was no picnic.
Yet, as the last two years have progressed, John has been more attentive to my physical limitations and needs, and well as some of my emotional ones as well.
To which I have not returned the favor much.
I realize that it became all about me. and my limitations.
And it's not.
My job, if you will, as a wife it to put him above all others. Kids, Disability issues, Facebook, errands, whatever.
If I were to give myself a performance evaluation of m job here at home, it would be "See you- out the door you go."
At work, I was the Go To Girl. Yet, in my home life, I was the What Kind of Example Are You Girl.
The moment of true horror came a few weeks ago in talking with one of the kids. They said they did not plan on getting married, and I asked why not.
The answer rocked me to my core.
"Because I watch you and dad and you just don't seem happy".
Take a minute and digest that.
Although we could have some good times, the observation was that more than not we seemed miserable.
At that moment I knew. I had to change. John was trying so hard, and I just let him. But I didn't try back,. But, I was willing to complain about all the time we didn't spend together, etc. And who can blame them for feeling that way.
So, I have been trying. Between counseling, small efforts, and thinking about things before I say/do them- things are improving.
I am looking forward to three days with my beloved when we go to Portland this week.
I realize that, as I have worked through things with my counselor, and made changes in my attitude in how I interact with my children, that we have become closer.
I would say to my family:
I am imperfect. I have flaws.
You have loved me this far, please keep loving me.
I am going to try Hard.
And babies- know that marriage is wonderful, and a gift, and should be treated that was from day one to day last.
But, most importantly?
I am sorry. And I love you fully, deeply and without condition.
Forever. No matter what.