If I could turn back time

Yesterday, as we walked to the farmers market, we talked to a bunch of neighbors. Like we do. One of our neighbors expressed that she wishes she had a time machine so she could go back in time and do everything right the way we have.

*cough* *choke* *sputter*

Do everything right? Bwahahahahahaha

But I can see why it might look that way if you know us as we walk by. Fair enough.

I get the general impression that her two kids have different fathers. I think what she means is “I didn’t manage to figure out a happy family.”

Only she seems pretty happy with her kids. It isn’t a mom/dad/kids dynamic… but they don’t have a bad life. They are stable and secure. She is raising the children in the home she was raised in so her expenses haven’t been too bad in life. She’s had an easier time than most of the single moms I know.

So what does it mean?

It means that she can’t get someone to think about her and prioritize her in the ways she wants. That makes sense. I auditioned a lot of people before I found someone who would treat me how I wanted to be treated. I dated a lot of people for 3-6 weeks. They weren’t willing to jump through hoops for me (reasonable decision) so I moved on. No big deal.

But other people don’t feel like they have the right to date scores of people and break up with them on the path to finding someone they want to stick with. I’m not sure why. We seem to have this myth that everything must work out with the first or second or third person you date. Yeah… I wasn’t going to be able to make that work.

I shudder to think of the kind of marriage I would have had with any one else I dated. I’m still married and doing well at marriage because this is a task Noah has put his whole heart and soul into.

I don’t have the standard complaints about marriage.

Do you know that my husband has computer programs that externalize most of our household management so he can track it and I don’t have to think about it? I don’t decide how often we need to sweep or mop. He checks the pantry and the fridge against a list of staple food items and he makes the shopping list. Sure, I do most of the grocery shopping but that’s because I like the grocery store. If something isn’t on the list I buy it if I want it and I don’t if I don’t think about it. If we don’t have something we need for a meal… he runs to the store to get it. I already went. It wasn’t on the list.

Noah’s so nice I don’t deserve him.

I suspect that part of the reason he tries this hard is when he was trying a lot less hard and bouncing between me and other obligations… I walked.

That scarred him.

I’m a selfish bitch. Or, more accurately, I am not good at meeting my needs. I have gotten my needs met through most of my life by asking person after person after person after person after person. If you don’t want me to do that… you need to do something about my HUGE and omnipresent needs.

Which is a fuck ton of work. Noah picks doing it because he doesn’t want me to go anywhere.

Noah picked a high maintenance pet. Not everyone wants that. I present to you the trail of broken hearts I left behind me. They all loved me. But mostly… not enough to do back breaking amounts of work.

I get it. That seems sane.

But I need a lot. Noah wants to give it to me instead of having me ask strangers for the rest of my life. I would feel like that was just. What I need is so unfair for an individual. But here we are.

We talk frequently about how this is our one chance in this lifetime for a happy family. We were not lucky enough to grow up in happy families. We can’t make our families of origin less toxic. Our only shot at creating a reality we want to live in is right now.

Every day when we wake up we get to decide: how are we going to approach the day. How are we going to approach each other.

I want Noah to be nice to me. So I’m nice to Noah. No, I’m not just kind enough to do it for its own sake. I need the trade. It’s work to be nice. It’s work to center someone and care about them and to learn what they need.

It’s really hard learning what people need. It’s work.

It’s hard setting boundaries. Often when you are crystal clear and you say “I can’t do this any more” someone will say “Well I don’t accept that. I don’t want that boundary so I will refuse to recognize it.”

You don’t understand how this works. The door will be closed the next time you knock on it.

Because we can’t go back in time and “do things right”. You have to move forward with what is. I’m a big fan of looking at the past to learn lessons from it. But I learn the lessons so I can make different choices in the future. Not so I can pretend I didn’t do what I did.

I did that. I’ll accept the consequences.