I am here

I am not here because I have to be. I have walked away from many people, situations, and places. I am here because I want to be. I am here because this is the best place I’ve ever been, warts and all.

I am here because when I manage to give Noah feedback on what I need he takes it seriously and tries to adapt. I am here because Noah makes me feel like it is ok to be that annoying Smart-Kid-Walking-Encyclopedia. Do you know how much I irritate people with my constant need to narrate what I know? Not everyone likes that part of my personality very much. Noah encourages me.

Noah likes that I wanted to grow up and play Mary Poppins with his kids. Our kids. The children who look at us like we hung the stars and the moon and we are the best things ever.

I was trying to explain to Noah the other day that him staying up late and sleeping through days is a big deal and that was a little hard for him to wrap his head around. I told him how much the kids look forward to weekends with him and he kind of minimized what I was saying. So I asked the kids yesterday at dinner how much they look forward to time with him. River. Of. Love. You may “see” us all the time because you work in the same house… but we feel the difference between you being present and ignoring us and you being present and turning the ray of sunshine that is your attention on us. When you check out… we feel it. Like the sun turning away.

I am partially here because, for reasons I don’t understand, Noah is better at making me feel sympathy for how hard it is to be a man than basically any other man I’ve ever met. I watch Noah struggle to deal with how much he internalized that no one likes little boys and they will only like you as a man if you give and give and give and give.

My baby Enby is sick. Last night they spiked a fever and they started vomiting. Just once, but it was… prolific and the poor kiddo is feeling terrible. They act just like me when I’m sick which kind of amuses me. They are listing every part of themself that feels bad and getting most huffy with feeling bad. “And MY THROAT HURTS TOO!” heh.

But the look on their face when I pamper them… that’s pure Noah.

I’m a really good at being a nurse for sick people. I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling like shit and when someone else is sick I’m good at figuring out all the ways to make feeling miserable a bit more bearable. Everyone in my house beams at me as if I am an angel of mercy descending to ease their suffering. They all have identical expressions of, “You’re here and you love me.”

Yeah. I am here. And I do love you. I can help you get through this. It’ll be just a blip.

I have so much sadness inside me because when I would get sick as a child my mom would flip out and get angry with me. I can now understand that she was barely surviving and anything that made it harder was worthy of resentment and anger… but I was a little kid who got to feel ashamed of myself every time my body was weak. It meant moral failing.

Nobody in this house is going to feel like that. Noah kind of tried early on in the relationship and I’ve been an asshole about mocking man-flu… but I also baby Noah anytime he feels off. He has the same melting, “You’re here and you love me” thing the kids get. It’s a way of relaxing into feeling loved and accepted even when you aren’t at your best.

When I think of the work I do for Noah… it’s not really the dishes or the laundry that matter. He was a bachelor. He can do that shit. Part of what I have done is help create a family where Noah gets to feel respected in a way he never has before. Sure, he’s “The Oracle” at work (Smart-Kid-Walking-Encyclopedia for the win) but at home we listen to him and we listen to what is under his words and we take care of him.

Part of the problem in our marriage is how much we read one another’s body language and leap to incorrect conclusions. Part of what makes our marriage so awesome is how much we read one another’s body language and leap to correct conclusions. So this is tricky.

No one has ever spent as much time staring at Noah and trying to make him happy as I have. The reverse is probably even more true.

The work I do for Noah involves things like helping to guide his relationship with his kids. “Hey so you reacted like x when the kid did y and let’s talk about developmental stages and tone of voice…”

Neither of us are “natural” parents. We are both the result of a lot conscious hard work and efforts to change. We want something that we’ve never seen and something that we’ve never been. That’s hard and takes course corrections and feedback and the willingness to humble yourself when your fuck ups are pointed out. We do it for each other. I tell Noah what I’m working on and he gives me feedback on how well I’m progressing.

Noah seduced me by telling me that if you can’t look back on yourself 18 months ago and say, “Wow I really sucked” then you aren’t trying hard enough. *cough* Well… May of 2016… *cough*

It helps if you fuck up big time every so often… easier to look back and say you sucked…

I am here because for all that the video games and comic books drive me nuts… I feel safe and mostly accepted. I don’t feel like a good wife. But I feel like a person who will be tolerated pretty much no matter what. Noah doesn’t always like me. He won’t ask me to go. I understand that the geek social fallacies work in my favor sometimes.

I am here because even if I am a monster I am a monster in a cave of monsters and that’s ok.

I am here because Noah will tell me the truth even when it is unpleasant and I end up liking him a little less for what he is saying. I know I can trust him even if I do spend time being mad at him.

He has such a beautiful smile. I love looking at it. It’s kind of funny to me that I know he likes our kids very much… but he still doesn’t turn the softness on them the way he does with me. I see facial expressions directed at me that he doesn’t use with anyone else. He is soft and gentle and melting. I just finished rereading Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce. It’s about a mage who works with rocks and she ends up having to deal with a newly forming volcano and the issues that might cause. She interacts a lot with the spirits of the volcano. (Go with me here, it’s a fantasy book.) The way the book talks about her wanting to soften the edges of herself and melt into the pool of fiery spirits…

That’s how Noah looks at me. Like he wants to melt away the edges of himself and just flow into me.

Which is a lot of why it hurts so much that I wrecked this.

I don’t know that I will ever deserve his trust again. And that’s my fault. I did that.

Time to pay the piper.

One of the neat things about the road trip was having the emotional experience of bringing home with me. The kids and I spent the trip listening to Kacey Musgrave on repeat and singing “Any place beside you is the place that I call home.” We had this open gaping wound of missing Noah, but when he came out to visit… we didn’t miss the building that much. Wonderland is a cool house as houses go… but we focus on the people. The people make us feel loved and accepted and wanted and like we should be here. And the people can go anywhere with us.

I was proud of myself last night. Noah spent a while massaging me (he says the current horrible stabbing pain is sciatic nerve pain. Oh joy. More fucking pain) and afterwards he indicated that he would be interested in moving to a room with privacy. The thing is, I am depressed as shit and I haven’t been doing my chores promptly so the family cloth was in the dryer for like 3 days and my whole crotch is a mess of burning pain because I’ve been using toilet paper. Toilet paper is the devil. So I told him I’d be happy to come with him and be with him but I need to leave my underwear on.

I’m trying.

Do you know how ridiculously hard it is for me that I have turned him down for sex many times in the past month or two? I… don’t do that. I’ve turned him down as much recently as maybe in our whole marriage put together. We’ve certainly had as much alternative sex in the past two months as in the rest of our 11 year marriage put together. I am… not the most skillful handjob giver in the world. What I lack up in dexterity I make up for with extra bonus oral sex. I’m slightly better at that.

I’m having fun with telling him not to rush and just enjoy feeling nice. We don’t have to hurry through.

I am here because even if I need other friends… Noah is my best friend. He doesn’t flinch from me in the way basically everyone else does. And even he still flinches sometimes.

EC keeps telling me that she thinks I am going to want another kid. Noah has hinted broadly that he’d be ok with getting another vasectomy as soon as I want him to. If I end up with a c-section I’m just getting a tubal done. If I have a better vaginal birth…

But I hate being pregnant.

EC says, “It isn’t that you are crazy. It is that you like your kids so much. I totally think you will want four.”

Even she understands that five would be a bridge too far. Oh good. But I came into this wanting three

Today is kind of busy. 8am Skype. 10am cleaners. 12pm chiro. 2:30 massage. It’s going to be a good day because at the end I won’t hurt as much. It is Friday Pain Relief Day.

Oh shucks. Noah is supposed to go get a hair cut and he was going to bring the kids with him. Luckily our hairstylist has an 8 month old and she’s currently germ paranoid so cancelling the same day is preferable to bringing a sick kid. We’ll call her and talk about it.

I gave in to cleaners twice a month since we lost the babysitter. I think it is easier to live together when we have slightly fewer chores… Goodness knows I’m slacking off right now. My body feels like shit.

I feel kind of ridiculously happy that I came up with a name for the next kid that basically means spiritual gift of charm. That’s… hopeful in this house of tactless wonders.

I am here because even when I am depressed as shit I still manage to get up and do the basics. I still manage to provide care and connection even when I feel horrible. I want to. I feel good about it. It’s important. I matter here.

Both of my kids have expressed fear about me dying during childbirth. We talk about it and I try to be realistic and kind about it. It is a risk. I’m never going to promise you that I won’t die. I will absolutely die someday and you are going to have to cope. But I don’t think I will die that day. That’s why I’m going to a good hospital and I’m being picky about doctors. I’m trying to stay fit. I’m trying to eat well. I’m doing what I can to stack the deck in my favor and then it’s just about luck.

They both tell me that they don’t want me to go. I tell them that I don’t want to go but someday I will have to because everyone does. But I hope it will be many years hence so that we can enjoy one another’s company for a very long time. But I don’t know when it will be and that’s why I pressure them so hard to learn the things I need them to learn. I don’t know how much time I have and I have a lot to teach.

I tell them that someday it will be their job to keep themselves safe and I won’t be there. The things that will decide if they come out ok or not will be their will and instincts. I’m doing what I can to train you to react in a way that will prolong your life.

FMC asked me why I love them so much if they are an asshole. (I don’t call them an asshole but I do talk a lot about how everyone is an asshole sometimes.) I told them that people are irritating and annoying and that is life. People are selfish and they have to be and that’s right and just. And I love you because you are bright and shining and you try and you fail and you get back up and you try again. Because that is life too. I love you because you are fierce and strong and you demand to be seen. I love you because you are unwilling to be ignored.

You refuse to be underestimated. Excellent. Keep it up.

I am here because no where else in the world will give me the chance to be who I want to be.