Sex, Love and Applesauce explores the complexities of maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner while the majority of your focus and energy are being devoted to parenthood. So hold on to your matrimony and buckle those car seats.
When I wrote my initial piece detailing how I forgot what my husband and I were like before we had kids, I had a feeling that the piece wasn’t actually done when I handed it in. Or perhaps that the way it ended was a little unfair.You see, I shared the joyful news that my husband and I had found our way back to each other and learned what we needed to pay attention to in order to prevent the chasm from occurring again. I wondered how many of you read that and thought, “Great. Care to enlighten me?”
In fact, I do! And it was enlightenment that started the return trip for me. An epiphany, really. I was sitting on my yoga mat at Wanderlust (an amazing yoga and music festival – highly recommend it) this summer in a class taught by Seane Corn (love her!). She had us meditating on a single thought: How have I loved? Obviously subjective and open to a million different interpretations, what these four words did for me that day was provide me with a clarity I didn’t even know was lacking.
As I repeated the words slowly in my mind, the image of my two kids drifted by my closed eyes. Right after that, I heard the word, “completely.” I have loved my children so completely that the word feels almost insufficient. What’s more than complete? It occurs to me now that beyond completeness might lie “too much,” in the sense that the loving of someone else begins to degrade other relationships in your life.
This would make sense, as the next image to float into my consciousness was of my husband. I saw his face, neither smiling nor frowning, just looking at me, free of judgement and resentment, two things I’d seen a lot of on his face over the past several months. In this open-hearted moment, I received a surprising message. When I posed the question, “how have I loved my husband,” the answer was, “selfishly.”
What?! Impossible! ME? Selfish? No, that’s his department! He’s the only child, the one who didn’t want his life to change when our kids were born, the one who tells them “no” when they ask to listen to some annoying children’s music or pound their forks on the restaurant table. It’s always about him! I’ve been trying to teach him for the past four years – to show him how to pack the kids’ snacks, what to bring to make them happy on a car trip, which drawer holds their pajamas, the proper order of their nighttime routine. I’ve been unselfishly showing him how to parent exactly the way I do.
Oh, wait. Shit. That’s totally selfish! I’ve left him little room to parent the way that comes naturally to him because I was pretty positive that my way was better. And what’s worse, I was making my love for him contingent upon his subscription to my program. This wasn’t happening consciously, but as I sat there on that yoga mat with tears creeping down my face, I discovered this ugly truth; this horrible thing I’d been doing to the person I had promised to respect and grow with for a lifetime. I felt awful. I felt cruel. I felt selfish.