Not too long ago someone, from the outside looking in, told me that I was a “crappy girlfriend.” Not the man I was dating, who would become my husband, but someone on the outside of our relationship, looking in. I took great offense, but kept my trap shut. Days later, this conversation was relayed to my dad.
He must not have had any time to think, because the words were barely out of my mouth before he said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. If you were such an awful girlfriend, then you would have never become a wife.” It was all I needed for perspective, because Woody was right. If I was that awful, than why did he want to marry me? Because I was not [that awful]. Being awful was not the kind I wanted to be.
In thinking back when I was girlfriend, there was a lot of time spent “playing the game tape” as Husband calls it. When the dust settled, what we did wrong- whoever that couple was, what we did right, how we could be better, what worked, what didn’t, what I liked about other couples, what I didn’t like, etc. After each boyfriend, there was a real “CtJ” (come to Jesus) meeting with myself, as I knew that I was not always the sole problem, nor was I always blameless. Each time, I learned and improved, each time getting better and better- as a girlfriend and as a friend.
No longer a girlfriend, I became Will’s wife. We were married less than two weeks when we had our first fight. Actually, we were married about 18 hours. We had not packed before the wedding for our honeymoon- stupid, I know, but no one told us. So, we had to go Brad’s to borrow luggage, to my house to get clothes, to Will’s house to get clothes, to my parents to say goodbye, get a hotel in ATL, drive to ATL, and be on a plane Monday morning. It was too much on too little sleep and I snapped at Husband, immediately regretting it. This was not the way I wanted to spend my life interacting with my husband. It was dumb, really. So dumb, I can’t even remember more than the immense feeling of sorrow I had that before the honeymoon had started, it was already over.
Game tape. What went wrong? I was tired. What went right? Next time there is a big event, we need to plan for the after-part, too. Lesson learned and not forgotten.
I apologized, Husband said no big deal- we’re both tired. I was shocked, no argument, no nothing. Not that we always fought, I just knew that if he had snapped at me the way I snapped at him, I would not have responded like that. Second lesson learned. The kind of husband Will was, was the kind of wife I wanted to be.
My game tape continued as I saw other wives and how they interacted with their husbands, more importantly, how they communicated. Communication, finances, and sex- if you can’t work out those three, then you aren’t going to make it, go ahead and cut your losses. When sleep escaped me, I would roll through relationships I was witness to, but not a part of, that I perceived to ‘work.’ These things were remembered, probably written down in one of about a dozen notebooks, and tried to be enforced. Improvement starts from within.
We had a baby. Well, we have a baby, but we had a baby. Game tape. Who has good children and what do they do? What do we take from our own family and what do we want to take from others?
When I was pregnant, Husband kept encouraging me with my diabetes by reminding me two things: (1) It was not just me anymore that I was caring for and (2) WE can do this. WE. Not me, we. I wanted to take that with me into parenthood-- I wanted to be supportive like Husband was with me.
All this leads me to last night. The weather was windy and wonderful, Husband had the weekend off and we were delighted to be together as a family. Upstairs we went, with wine, Cheerios, and a ball. Walking around the corner, a bunch of PCKs (post college kids) were setting up beer pong tables and we got to talking to them as fellow UGA grads. We were invited, more than once, to sit in on a few games of beer pong. I’m 30. I’m married. I have gray hair and a baby. Seriously? You’re 22 and have no idea. We politely declined, poured our wine, and started batting the ball around with Eileen. She gleefully ran up and down the roof, to Ma-Mee, fro Ma-Mee, to Da-Dee, fro Da-Dee. For hours, we sipped, we played, and interacted with our precious daughter. Downstairs for supper, bath, and bed by 10. Eileen did not tip our life upside down, she stepped into our lives and we adapted. We’re still us, but she makes us too.
That’s the kind of parent I want to be.