The Dogged Question

Let me preface this by saying that I love animals and have grown up with a variety of furry friends from pet mice all the way up to my beloved late Appaloosa horse. Children are also acceptable but I am more likely to hang out with your kid if he’s well-behaved. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request. I’m not an expert on all these creatures, but time and experience has given me a well-rounded knowledge.

That being said, last week I was dog-sitting for a friend. She’s a tiny black Pomeranian—the dog, not my friend—with a summer haircut the neighborhood kids would definitely make fun of if she were people. The dog has always been overjoyed and clingy with me when I visit my friend so we thought she’d be fine coming to spend a few days with her Aunt ~L~. And she was. I mean, sure she missed her mom, but she mellowed out pretty quickly and was a joy to have. Except for that pesky being-a-dog part.

Does this haircut make my head look huge?
Does this haircut make my head look huge?

Dogs are needy and very reliant on their people. I know this, and yet, I’m still amazed by the level of dependence. Don’t misunderstand me! Dogs are great! They’re fiercely loyal and forgiving and make great friends. But I’m just not the kind of person who likes adding more time consumption to my day. That’s why I have cats. They’re easy because most of the time, they could care less if I exist or not. I could be on fire and they wouldn’t look away from the sliding glass door to the patio.

Having basically a furry, adorable toddler in the house made me think about something that often bothers me, sometimes to an eye roll, sometimes to a teeth grinding anger.
Though I’m not a dog person, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had years of experience with family pets and the pets of friends. The same goes with kids. In fact, I find myself equating having a dog with having a small child, especially if it’s a puppy. And this brings me to my point. Dogs and kids are great, but they’re most likely NOT for me.

I’ll be 34 in August. I married Husband a little over two years ago. When we got together, the obnoxious question on everyone’s lips was: “When are you gonna get married?” Once we were engaged, it evolved into: “Have you picked a date yet?” And once I marched down that aisle and Flashmobbed my reception hall (seriously, we did, and it was AWEsome), the question became down right personal: “When are you going to have kids?”

Since I was probably 11 or 12, I’ve felt like I never wanted to have kids. Until I got married, I was only slightly aware that all of humanity was expecting me to want to. That seems a little messed up to me. First, I find everyone’s preoccupation with both my vagina’s business and my uterus’s functionality kind of disgusting. And it takes a lot to gross me out. Ask *d*. But if you think about someone asking you when you plan to have children, you realize what they’re really asking is: “When will you and your husband be having sex in order to make a baby?” See? I could get far more descriptive, as I’ve thought about this quite a bit, but I won’t. Second, it makes me angry when someone hears my answer: “I don’t want kids,” and insists that I do, in fact want them. That it’ll be different when it’s your own kid. I am under no delusions that it won’t be different. Of course it will. I’m not a mother but I’m also not an IDIOT. What really makes my jaw clench (and causes heavy use of italics in my blogs) is the idea that other people feel like they know what I want and insinuate that they also know my body, mentality, and personal preferences better than I do. STOP. IT.

I know myself very well. That’s the beauty of waiting to get married until after I turned 30. I’ve had those 30 + years to get to know just what I can and can’t stand, what I like to do, and where I want to go. The decision to remain child-free is not something I take lightly. In fact, I still mull it over at least weekly. It’s like I’m checking my stats and seeing if this is the week I will change my mind (SPOILER ALERT: IT ISN’T). But I do think about it. I don’t think about it because I’m hounded by so many people (even those close to me who should know better), but because there is part of me that would like to have someone to teach all the things I’ve learned on this speed-bump riddled road of life. I don’t doubt my capabilities to love unconditionally and sacrifice as a mother should. But I also understand that I like the way my life is and that I am selfish and wish to stay that way. At least when it comes to devoting time to a kid. Hell, I don’t even want a dog. I’m not going to do what everyone expects when I know it’s not right for me.

If my plan changes in the near future (‘cause let’s face it, it would have to happen soon since I ain’t getting’ any younger), it will have nothing to do with the harping and nagging of others who harp and nag even though it’s not their bodies or lives that will be altered.

How offended would you be if you had children and I told you shouldn’t?

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

Perspective could save us all…

~L~

Year End Reflections

I married him in the late of summer. He didn’t want to see his bride in sleeveless so I wore a long sleeved white dress in the hot of day. My hair was down, sweltering on my neck. It couldn’t be put up, it wouldn’t have been suitable for him. All the details of that day were as he desired. The floral arrangements, the bridal band, and bridesmaids’ dresses were all in his favorite color. My special color was too feminine for his special day.  Everything was suited for a day as he dreamed and we set off for a honeymoon as he always imagined.

This was the first day of the rest of his life. It was the  first day ending my independent life. There was no longer a “me” but an us where he decided what was best for the two of us. I was there that day. I stood before the closed sanctuary doors sick with fear. I recalled the day he proposed. I wanted to run then and I wanted to run at that moment. I thought I was in too deep but I was expected to consider his feelings first in all things.

I was expected to relinquish myself and become his wife. In that moment, on that day, I inherited the responsibilities of a wife. I was solely responsible for cleaning, laundry, and meal preparation while remaining physically pleasing and readily available to him. There was no fair turn in the marriage as my attire was rebuked down to my undergarments while he slowly allowed himself a great deal of comfort with his hygiene and appearance. The small requests continued until larger uncomfortable desires were expected to be met with silent submission. After several years I no longer thought about what I wanted, I just did as he asked. My hair was to a length he preferred, my eyebrows were favored at an appropriate width, and money was never at my disposal. He refused to part with the mutual earnings to allow spending that would not  be a benefit to him. I worked full time but found myself in tears when making the agonizing choice to purchase much needed items, even if it were for my career. I was also not allowed the security of a cell phone after accepting a job forty miles from home. When my salary met his own, my position was downplayed as subjacent to his own.

I was not perfect but I don’t believe he thought what he was doing was wrong. We both had flaws. I was immature and I had a temper. When my requests to talk about marital issues were met with complete silence, I would blow up in frustration. For him, the only problems with our marriage were the issues I refused to drop. The bad fights started with requests to put down the toilet seat, brushing teeth before bed, or my desire to include my family and friends in my life. For me, marriage became about isolation, unresolved issues and silence. He thought his marriage was perfect. He was shocked when I finally left.

The weeks before I left became littered with fights and broken furniture. One afternoon we had the last fight of our marriage. I left for my parent’s home and he never came for me. He spent his time calling me and asking me to come home or making accusatory calls to me while I was at work. He wanted me back but was angry that I was not doing as he asked. He also had too much pride to follow his wife to the ends of the Earth, or a mere few miles up the road.

Some say divorce is worse than death. I can agree with this on some level because running into an ex can almost be like seeing a ghost. I haven’t seen mine since our disillusion was final. I was thankful we had no children thus making the separation of our lives a clean cut.

You may wonder why this would be the subject of my next post in light of the holiday season. New Year’s Eve fifteen years ago, I was laying on the bathroom floor my ex and I shared wondering if I wanted my life to continue. I heard the laughter from the party going on in the basement beneath and felt it was not for me. Against my natural desire to live grew this terrifying thought grown out of depression. Marriage was not like most things in my young life, it would continue until death. I realized I had no second chance and I should have felt more desire for my husband and my marriage. I had ignored my heart and did what I thought was “right.”

I stayed for a few more New Year’s Eve parties until I matured and made the difficult decision to make our separation permanent. The day I left, I had no idea how I would come to that choice but when he never came for me, it was easier to make. I had to be worth the fight.

………….

Years later, I married him on a cold spring day in the dress of my dreams (it was sleeveless) and prepared confidently, knowing however I came down the aisle, he unconditionally loved me. My heart and my mind were no longer at conflict.

During the approach of the holiday season, many thoughts turn to resolutions or putting behind a bad year. Isn’t it silly to think the same problems won’t follow through to the next year or resolutions will be easier to keep because we can open another calendar? Making a resolution to run away from problems does not work any better than running from them the remainder of the year. What happened to accepting the year we were given and using the short-falls of that year for our betterment?

My New Year’s advice for you: look back and enjoy this year. Do not be in a rush to discard it. Fifteen years ago when I was laying on my bathroom floor, I lost hope. My life was certainly going to be more of the same disappointment but that disappointment led me to where I am. My husband was worth the previous years I was ready to forget. If I would have known the heartache I experienced would bring me to where I am, I would have met it with more joy. There can be joy in our sadness. Unfortunately we don’t realize all that is meant for us until it has come to pass. Don’t regret an entire year based on difficulty, remember the clay is stronger when burned by fire. The heat may sometimes be intense but it is preparation for many things yet to come. Be patient. True happiness is always worth the wait.

Happy New Year! Wishing you the confidence to make the hard decisions and waiting for the best return the new year has to offer.

*d*