Marriage? No thanks. I already ate.
Marriage? No thanks. I already ate.
Right now I’m laying on bed with my head propped up on some pillows and my laptop perched right on top of the old ovaries. Now a little while ago, I wouldn’t have been in this position because I wouldn’t want all that WiFi jizz floating around in the air so close to all the baby-making-and-carrying paraphenalia inside my abdomen. But as I have plans to get myself spayed like a dog in the very near future, I’m not so worried about it anymore.
Is this entry off to a smashing start or what?
So I’m a 38-year-old single momma. It might not be too shocking to hear that I’m officially outsourcing any babymaking operations to China. In fact, most people I know tend to think that’s a pretty sensible course for me right now. But what people can’t get their heads around is the fact that I probably don’t ever want to get married again. (Now, I’ll put in a caveat here: That’s how I feel right now — but I also never say never. I’m not going to pound my fist on the table and say that marriage is an impossibility. But I will say that thinking about getting married again puts me pretty darn close to having an anxiety attack. Not a good sign.)
The thing is, I don’t know how to live with a man without turning into his mother. I have two kids that I gave birth to. I wash all of their clothes, make all of their meals, arrange their playdates, deliver them to school, listen to all of their stories and get their oil changed every 5,000 miles. This is a big farking job. And if a man ever moved into my home, I fear that all that spaying I’m going to get done would go to waste because all of a sudden I’d have myself a third child.
It would start small. It would start with, “Oh, you’re out of socks? Why don’t I just toss some in with the kids’ laundry?” And at first I might even like it. I might enjoy taking his sockie-boos out of the widdle basket and matching them up for him. From there, it’s a slippery slope until I’m making his doctor’s appointments and fretting over the fact that he doesn’t eat enough vegetables.
Ever since I let it be known that I was officially in the dating marketplace, people have been wanting to set me up — which is great and nice and lovely of them and I’m honored that they think enough of me that they’d send someone my way. And of course I want to hear about the guy before I consent — name, age, occupation, etc. But that conversation often includes this line in one variation or another: “He wants to get married and have kids someday.” And I’m never quite sure what to do with that statement. (I’m always tempted to say, “Well, I’m done having new kids but I have some old ones we can use …”) I know that people are telling me that to encourage me and make me feel good and lovable despite my status as a single mother. They want to give me hope that I can still have the white picket fence and that whole bit — I, too, can have what everyone else has!
But maybe that little fence isn’t for me.
I stopped seeing a perfectly nice guy a few months ago (for reasons unrelated to anything here) and a mutual friend said to me, “That’s OK. It never would’ve worked anyway. He doesn’t want to get married or have kids.” And that stopped me in my tracks. Because it was the first time I realized that people view my intentions in the dating world much differently than I view them. People make the assumption that because I was married and because I have kids, I’m looking to plug another guy into that “man” slot in the family photo.
When I told one of my very, very best friends in the world that I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted to get married again, she poo-pooed me a bit and said, “Well I want better for you.” Meaning that she thinks I’m selling myself short if I don’t get married again.
Let me be clear: Just because I don’t want to get married doesn’t mean that I don’t want love and passion and romance and friendship and connection and all of the great stuff that you hope will come along with marriage but doesn’t always. It just means that maybe for someone like me, the best way to sustain all of that is to NOT live with the person.
This is a theory that I’ve been kicking around for several months and if you’ve spent more than 10 minutes with me, you’ve probably heard it. My thought is this: Maybe the sweet spot in a relationship is being in love and spending time together but NOT cohabitating. Now all of you who have your little nuclear families might find this one hard to swallow, but remember, I’ve had my kids and I’m getting divorced. The nuclear family is already off the table. I have a different paradigm to work with than the never-been-married person. (I have to note, though, that many married people I’ve talked to about this theory think it’s a great idea.)
Think about it: Everyone wants love. I feel pretty confident in saying that. Even people who say they don’t want it (and I know people who say this) wouldn’t turn it down if it showed up and took them by surprise. Because real love is that irresistable. It rocks your world.
But … how do you sustain that? The problem with love is that it’s sooooo good that you want more. You want to get closer. You want that feeling ALL THE TIME. So then you go get yourself hitched or you shack up. But then what?
I think sustaining love is like keeping a houseplant alive. You need to water it and fertilize it and make sure it gets just the right amount of sun. So water is good, right? Fertilizer is good. Sun is good. But you can’t over-water it or over-fertilize it or it’ll die. And you can’t hover over it all the time or you’ll block out the sun and it won’t grow. This may be an admittedly thin metaphor, but it works for me.
So yes, I want someone to spend national holidays with. I want to laugh and talk and explore and grow with someone. I want someone to, uh, you know … do it with. (Mama has needs, too.) And that someone can camp out in my space for days at a time sometimes (eventually). And I’d like that to be reciprocal. But then he can leave. Or I can leave. And we can both breathe. And recharge. And do things on our own a bit. And maybe even miss each other. And maybe even look forward to seeing each other again (a concept that blows my mind).
So I guess ultimately, I’m looking for something that transcends marriage. Listen, I have some of the most amazing people on the planet as my friends. We are friends over years, through life traumas, through major milestones. We laugh our heads off and we talk about big and small things and we absolutely savor our time together. And we don’t need to contractually bind ourselves to do this, we just do it. And we’re respectful and thoughtful with each other. And we truly, truly love each other, even when we sometimes get on each other’s nerves. So I guess I’m looking for all of that, only with someone whose pants I’d like to take off on a somewhat regular basis.
Is that too much too ask?
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, peeps. Love from me.
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