I went to Target tonight, solo before I picked up the kids. It's Sunday night a week or so before school starts and Target was insane. Insane, I kid you not. There were more people there than I ever have seen and more full families, mothers and fathers with their kids. I think it was the combo, back to work tomorrow/back to school thing happening. Seems like a lot of people were doing their back to school shopping. I wanted to let them all know that they had another week but instead I hid in the less populated aisles until things calmed down. Which they never did. So, I sucked it up and braved the masses.
I had a simple list, groceries for our impending free beach trip, etc. But unfortunately it wasn't a short one and my Target doesn't carry swim diapers BTW in case you would ever need to know that. Bummer!
I'm a people watcher/listener. My children constantly wonder how I can know what they're doing from three rooms away, it's because I'm listening. Please don't tell them my secret. Shhh. So as I was braving, aforementioned insane Target, I was listening. And let me tell you, it was not pretty to the ears. There were a lot of children screaming, no fault of their own I'm sure, hungry, tired and wanting to be at home. Fits were being thrown but while the ear-piercing screeches of toddlers still go right through me, I have a toddler so they are easily pardoned.
There was also a rather large family (# of members, not their size) that were loudly talking in a foreign language. Couldn't quite identify the language, maybe somewhere Eastern Europeish. I wanted to guess which cereal they were telling each other to buy, but no luck there. This was actually really cool for me to listen to and fantasize about learning a language I could speak with my family in public and no one else would have any idea what I was saying. Or I could just move somewhere with my kids that no one speaks English and that would solve that problem (laziness abounds ;-)
There was mom shopping alone couponing with her baby about 8 months I would guess, and this child was done. My mommy radar sensed a major melt down coming her way and I could see her trying to head it off at the pass. Throwing every cool shaking loud grocery item at her little one trying to amuse him. To no avail. Here she was just trying to save money and make it through Target speaking loving kind words to her little one; I felt a ton of compassion and after watching her struggle for a few aisles I had to offer her a kind word,
"You're doing great Momma."
She looked up with a half-hearted grimace smile and the next aisle over she flashed me a huge one. I wanted her to know that she's not annoying, her child is not annoying and I was aware that she was trying her best. Let all the twenty, thirty, forty something childless singles look at her like she has three heads because her baby's not perfectly calm and serene. I've been told to shut my child the f#$% up in a grocery store before; that's never going to spring from my lips. I was happy to have a chance to encourage someone. I find myself doing this a lot. I think I'm strange, normal people don't encourage random strangers in Target, they keep their head down, glare and get their shopping done. Hmmm.
But there was something that weighed a lot more heavily on me in my hour long trip to Target tonight. It was the couples. They were fighting, almost all of them. I saw one that wasn't and took special note. There wasn't any screaming, I take that back, maybe one couple. But I could hear how they spoke to one another. It was familiar, and I didn't like it.
I remember the constantly feeling annoyed at my spouse. The "Uh Duh" sigh that means, hello, you don't know what size swimmie diapers she wears? Or you can't find them, Oh, I'll go look, I'm sure they're there you're just unmotivated to find them. The sheepish embarrassment at my judgement when I can't find them either. I remember that all too clearly. Heck, I was married for a long time and annoyed for too much of that time. I have to say, it seems to be the wives that are expressing the irritation. And I took note for personal reflection of that. So, I watched the husbands, what are they doing? And I noticed, they're standing around silently looking annoyed. They're unmotivated to move to help. They seem to just want her to finish so they can go home and chill.
I don't blame either one of them. This is not about judging their behavior; I have been too guilty of it myself to do that. It's about wondering what the reality of this type of marriage means for these couples. Is this okay? I think it's pretty obvious that it's not. Is this something they hope for? Of course not. What does Jesus have to say about this? If this is reality of how spouses interact, why is that? How can it be changed and where are the people that have mastered a different path? She (if she were me) really wants him to really help so they can go home faster and both chill. He (if I had to guess) wonders why he's there in the first place since he doesn't know where anything is, and therefore is ill-equipped to help. And I think feeling incapable tends to not make men feel the greatest (says this very female theorising woman).
It made me really sad. I wanted to send out an email plea to all my married friends for happy married couple stories. NO, stop! Wait. Then I felt resolved, I'd rather be lonely every night of the week then express myself that way for one more second of my life. The trap here is this: I see that dynamic in every marriage I interact with, the one I was in and all the ones I observe. I don't have a friend or a loved one where I don't see that in their relationship and my heart screams:
"It's better to be lonely than live with that kind of un-love and disrespect!!!! I won't do it, I can't. I'm afraid of what I would be."
This is uncharted territory for me. Right after the shit hit the fan I resolved myself to never remarry for a whole host of reasons. Then hope entered for a brief season and now that has waned. A friend said recently that there's a good man out there that cares for her so she can stand firm against the jerks. I was glad for her and sad for me, wondering if that will ever be true, not believing at all that it will. I won't lie tears sprung to my eyes, and I brushed them away with harsh judgement for my stupid self-pity. Now I'm standing in quicksand, unwilling to hope, unwilling to move, wanting just to heal. Hoping that this stuff doesn't suck me under before I figure out how to get out. But it is helpful to know what I don't want.
I don't want to be married more than I want to not be lonely. (There are lots of lonely married people out there)
I don't want to ever be in a relationship where disrespect rules in the way it has in my past or in the way I witnessed tonight.
I don't want someone else to help put food on the table more than I want to learn what it's like to stand on my own two feet.
I don't want to rush into my future blind. I want to carefully heal, loving my children, God, others and myself.
I do want companionship, but that doesn't have to come through romance/dating/marriage, that can be present in my other relationships especially with God.
I do want to support my family.
I do want to heal from my past.
I do want to write and make a living at that.
I do want to raise my children, spending as much time with them as I can.
I do want to workout with my brother a few days a week, reminding myself that there's a good man out there that cares about me. Even if he is a nineteen year old Oaf who tells me to put more weight on that bar because that was way too easy.
I do want to express gratefulness for my father who struggles with his health spending hours cutting grass here this week.
I do want to make a pie for Reuben because the kid keeps fixing stuff. I gotta do something for him.
I do want to figure out what I'm wearing to the wedding that I just realized is in less than two weeks. I can go alone, I can go alone, I can go alone. I'll just leave early. It'll be fun, it'll be fun, it'll be fun. (repeat mantra to self)
I do want half a glass of wine... :-)