Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts

Saturday, October 15, 2016

[Watching our friends get] Married... with [our] Children

Let's bring the boys to the wedding, we said.

It will be fun, we said.

We were so cocky. Bean had been to several weddings and loved to dance, we reasoned. And Teeny, though young, was just so chill that it wouldn't be a big deal. An outdoor, afternoon wedding of a laid-back couple with tons of family medicine and pediatrics residents in attendance. It would be like a weekend away without needing to pay for a baby-sitter. What could be more perfect?

We rented a house through Airbnb so that we would have plenty of space and the boys would have their own rooms. We beat traffic on the way there and spent the next morning exploring the cute town. We stumbled upon a farmers' market and ate ice cream for lunch. The boys even went down for a pre-wedding nap.

On the way to the wedding, we talked about how we would need to be very quiet. (We had no illusions that we would actually sit down for the ceremony, but planned to watch from a safe distance.) As we rounded the side of the beautiful inn where the festivities were being held, the bride was just starting to walk down the grassy aisle to the strumming of a guitar. Bean pointed to the musician and began shouting, "Man playing 'tar!!!!!"

We retreated. A staff member inside kindly pointed out a large picture window overlooking the lawn where we could watch without disrupting things.

At that point Teeny let us know that he was hungry, so I settled into an armchair in the corner to nurse him. My husband headed to the window with Bean, but there was a problem: the parlor of the inn was filled with so many nice things and Bean needed to investigate all of them. There was a large birdcage containing actual birds and a stone fireplace and so many trays of seashells and trinkets and shiny objects. In other words, it was a room we had no business entering.

"We really need to rethink whether we bring the boys to weddings," my husband noted a few minutes later in a tone that struck me as irritable, though he adamantly denies having felt annoyed. I sighed and internally (or maybe externally) rolled my eyes. We were in another state and the celebration that we had traveled here to attend had just begun. There could be no second thoughts.

As soon as Teeny had finished nursing, my husband pounced. "My turn to hold him!" he exclaimed, which was code for it's your turn to chase the toddler. But Bean was in great spirits, happily occupied by tracing the contours of the stone fireplace with the car key that my husband had handed him to play with. I relaxed a bit and began to really take in the gorgeous setting. On the other side of the fireplace, I noticed a basket filled with books and a plush stuffed lobster. As Bean began to edge too close to the hurricane jars lining the hearth, I lifted him up, intending to plop him down by the [unbreakable] lobster. While in the air, he started to protest: "Hold key! Hold key! Hold key!"

Which is what he says when he wants to hold something that he is not holding.

I looked down at his empty hands. "Key? Where's the key, Bean?" I asked in an urgent whisper, not wanting my husband to hear. "Bean, what did you do with the key?"

"Hold key!!" he wailed, and I left his side, hurricane jars be damned, to retrace my steps, scouring the floor.

"What does he mean, 'hold key'?" my husband asked, because of course he was right there and had heard and now realized the predicament.

"Don't worry, I'm sure it's here - " CRASH!!!!!! 

I spun around, expecting to find my family covered in shards of glass. My husband, with Teeny in his arms, had sprung to action trying to find the key, but in doing so had knocked over an end table. An end table that had held a glass dish of beautiful, fragile seashells.

Of course that was the moment that the inn's manager entered the room.

"I'm so sorry! We're so sorry!" my husband yelled, frantically gathering shells in one hand while cradling Teeny in his other arm. 

"Hold key! Hold key!" Bean continued to wail.

"Just let us know how much we owe," my husband huffed, still scrambling to scoop bits up off the floor. "And also, we're missing a car key."

Outside, the ceremony came to a close. The bridal party and guests began to make their way back up the lawn toward the inn. Having already crawled along the floor to peer under the couch, I stood up and spied the key nestled behind a throw pillow. Somehow the glass and shells and whatever else were picked up off the floor. My husband and I gathered our things and, each taking a child, stepped out onto the back porch where guests were now mingling over cocktails. In the kind of frustrated yet silent agreement that comes from more than a decade and a half as a couple, we parted ways, each joining a separate section of the throng.  

By the time dinner started, Teeny was napping contentedly on my shoulder and Bean had begun to make his presence known on the dance floor. We had caught up with old friends and made new introductions around the table. And for the rest of the night, our family was happy and smiling.

I had thought that some time would need to pass before we could speak of - and certainly before we could laugh about - the scene at the inn. But as he pulled our car out of the parking lot at the end of the night (well, the end of the night for a family with small children), my husband grinned. "Well that will make quite a story."

Since that time, I have referred to it as "The Wedding Where We Almost Got Divorced," though he swears it was never that serious and he was never that annoyed. And as for bringing the boys to weddings? We haven't done it again. 

At least not yet.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

All of the ways I forget

I had my 90-day evaluation in my new position today. I left the clinic I was working in, one overrun by burnout and toxic management, in order to remember why I went into medicine at all. I love my patients and this work, but I love my family more. I now work 3 days a week in health care administration and quality improvement. I sleep well at night now that the main cause of my insomnia has ended. My family is happier. My evaluation went very well.

Immediately after my meeting, my husband reached out and said he needed to talk. I needed to talk too. He is finishing his dissertation this week, we just bought a new house, and my parents came in town for the weekend. We have been passing like ships in the night. Both busy and not really checking in enough. With moments of hugs and kisses and simple appreciation. But overall, we haven’t been checking in frequently enough and we definitely haven’t been having the weekly meetings that are my bookends at work.

I feel lonely. He feels unappreciated. Why didn’t I offer to help with his appendices? Why didn’t I read the chapter he asked me to read so many months ago (honestly, he gave it to me and I forget and he never mentioned it again until today and now I feel like dirt). He feels that my work has taken priority in our family for years (medical school, residency, the toxic job took so much of our family’s energy just to stay afloat). And now I’m studying for my Boards again after I failed them last year (more about that later, I have a lot to say about it but it's so raw and traumatizing). And he’s finishing his dissertation and starting his first job as a professor at the state university.

When we get busy I forget that my marriage needs check-ins, scheduled ones, on purpose because they are priorities. And when we are busy, we both have to go the extra mile to make sure that my needs, his needs, and our family’s needs are met.

And I’m sitting here at work, dragging my feet because at home I am reminded of all the ways I forget. I need to go home and start remembering again. And I need to be gentle with myself because we are juggling plates and though many of them are scuffed up I pray that none of them are smashed and destroyed. I’m going to head home now in order to remember that I love him immensely. And loves me. And we can't forget.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Proposal


I walked into the Dr.'s Lounge this morning and bumped into a hospitalist. I had heard over the weekend that he had been through a rough divorce three years ago. I see him daily and we talk about kids once a month but somehow I missed this.

"I'm sorry! I must have been living under a rock. Divorce is so awful I wish I had known."

"Oh who told you? Your new neighbor? I met her at a crawfish broil last weekend."

"No, not her but she is sweet we had a big neighbor cookout two weeks ago love her. It was dance moms - Cecelia's (13) big recital was last weekend. And don't tell your son you heard it from me but C told me he's the hottest ticket in town."

"His head is getting so big we are having trouble keeping his ego in check."

"The dance moms were showing me a picture of your girlfriend on social media she is super cute."

"What?" He looked confused.

"Short blonde hair?"

"Oh where the heck did they find that? That was over a while ago. It's so hard, dating and divorce. There's so much baggage."

"Yeah, I had a year of hell on match.com but finally got lucky. I met a great guy almost four years ago. He has never been married and doesn't have any kids - not that I would have minded if he did, but it is easy. The kids have their chance for a sibling with my ex and stepmom's toddler." I smiled, "he just moved in a month ago I'm so excited."

Last Saturday I caught up with an old friend I hadn't chatted with in 15 years. We talked on the phone - she's in DC - until 12:30 am. I sat out on the back deck.

"So tell me all about him!"

"Well, he's lived all over. Born in Arizona, elementary and middle school in Plano,Texas, high school in New Jersey where he started biking - rode with George Hincapie up there, biking and art school in Kansas City, then the Twin Cities and Seattle to pursue his photography. Once he delivered a pizza to Eddie Vedder in Seattle!! He decided to go back to Kansas to pursue architecture and finished his degree when Wall Street crashed in 2008. He worked in L.A. for a year then came to Hot Springs. Now he's in a nice office in downtown Little Rock with a large national firm based in Memphis - they did a lot of work in downtown Memphis. They had their Christmas party at Graceland it was so fun! We did a night tour. I had been lots of times growing up but it was his first."

"So are you going to get married?"

"Well, yeah, we talk about it but. . ."

"But what?"

"He hasn't asked me yet. I mentioned never getting married again so many times early in our relationship I think he is afraid to ask. I would be."

"You ask him."

I was flabbergasted. "I can't do that!!! You're crazy!"

"Yes you can. Do it. Ask him."

I've been thinking about it non-stop for the past two days. It would model great bashing gender stereotypes to my children. We have talked about it a lot recently, especially since things have been working out so well since he moved in.

Thinking about it has made me reflect on our time together, and on him. How we both disagree on our first date to the tour the U.S.S. Razorback submarine - July 22 or 23? Luckily he saved the tickets so he can usually find them and prove me wrong. How we disagree on our first kiss anniversary two months later - we spent a lot of time hiking and going to movies and getting to know each other before that. September 22 or 23? Depends on when midnight struck neither of us were paying any attention.

He met the kids late that fall at a picnic at Pinnacle Park - one of our favorite hiking spots. I still remember Jack grabbing his hand while stepping down a bank to the creek and his surprise then ease with the contact. The kids and I later took him to one of our favorite hiking spots that has the Cat in the Hat painted on a tree stump. He did art projects with Cecelia - a Valentine's box in the shape of a nose (her wacky idea). They painted the girl and boy mascot clay statues of the Nashville Sounds in a tux and fancy dress and won box tickets to a game - his dad and stepmom were in Nashville at the time. He easily blended into our weekend lives and a year later got a job closer to Little Rock and an apartment two blocks away, so he has been a fixture for the past two years.

There are so many things I love about him and I am really bad about expressing them to him. It's a lot easier to think about them in my head and type them hiding behind this computer. I love how he points things out to me with his photographer and architect eye that I would miss buried in my books or music or thoughts. A coal barge on the river. A detail on a building. A rock to watch out for on a bike ride. A cardinal in the backyard. I love how he collects watches and gave me one on our first trip out of town to New Orleans. I still remember him telling me he wanted me to wear it. It's a Tissot - very clean and classy - he told me then that Grace Kelly wore this watch and I was amazed he knew that.

I love how he is with kids, so easy and quiet and agreeable. How he jumps on the trampoline with Jack (10) when I worry he is stuck in his iPad too much. How he goes over Cecelia's study guides with her the night before tests - he is her favorite study buddy and calms her down much better than I can. How he rides all the roller coasters and goes on all the waterslides that I am too scared to do with them. How we take turns wishing them goodnight when they are here. Some nights Cecelia keeps him down there talking way too long and I love hearing what they were talking about when he comes back up.

Most of all I love how he is with me. He's dragged me out of my books into TV series and we are having so much fun with Ray Donovan right now I can't wait to settle kids at night. He hikes with me and bikes with me. Lately we have been getting into cooking with Blue Apron. It's so fun to put on the classical music he grew up hearing at symphonies with his father and wind down the day preparing a meal together - both of us learning how to cook. He fixes all of our computer issues there are lots! Last Friday night he volunteered to be one of the drivers with me in a Scavenger Hunt birthday party with fifty kids we had so much fun. We got kicked out of the mall by a power tripping cop; I loved that he enjoyed it as much as I did. He puts up with my singing when I've had an extra glass of wine. He's my knight in shining armor when I've had a terrible day. And he's helped me focus more on the right in me than the wrong, which I have a tendency to do.

I love that when he catches me looking at him he gets defensive like there is something wrong but really I just love to look at him. He is so handsome. I want to live in the corners of his eyes when he smiles. I want to breathe in every time he breathes out so I can catch his breath. I want to be buried in the smell of the crook of his neck. I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

So, SPS, here's the question that has been making my palms sweaty and my heart anxious, ever since my friend put it in my head to ask. It can be a small wedding, no frills - I know you don't like being the center of attention - me neither. Just you, me and the kids. I'll console Cecelia by throwing a huge party inviting all our friends and family with a band and good food and wine. I've got no ring but I've got these words and I know you value art over things so I think it'll be ok. And I'm not down on one knee but I'm hiding behind this computer on mothers in medicine which was my safe spot and my outlet in one of the hardest times of my life. So here goes. What do you say? Will you marry me?

 At P.F. Chang's - a top spot with my kids, awesome friend histotech and bestie P.A.
 Hiking a black sand beach in Hawaii at a path conference on the Big Island

Click the link below, babe (Elle King)






Tuesday, April 26, 2016

More Important Than Your Marriage, or Lessons from Old TV Shows

I've been re-watching The West Wing lately - my Netflix version of re-reading a favorite novel, which I also do frequently. In the episode Five Votes Down, early in the first season, Leo (the Chief of Staff to President Josiah Bartlet) forgets his anniversary and comes home at 2:00 AM in the midst of a crisis with Congress. The next day he sends his wife a pearl choker and plans a catered dinner, but it's too late. His wife has packed her bags and has a taxi waiting.
Jenny: I can't do this anymore. This is crazy. I don't want to live like this. I just can't.
Leo: I'm sorry about the anniversary. I just...
Jenny: It's not the anniversary. It's everything. It's the whole thing.
Leo: This is the most important thing I'll ever do, Jenny. I have to do it well.
Jenny: It's not more important than your marriage.
We all know what the right answer is here, don't we? We do. Leo knows, too - but instead he gives her the honest answer.
Leo: [emphatically] It is more important than my marriage right now. These few years, while I'm doing this, yes, it's more important than my marriage. 
Every time I watch it, this scene brings me to tears. This time, though, I watched it while I was doing the dishes at 10:30 at night on a day when I'd missed dinner with my family because I was at work until nearly 8:00 PM. That's not unprecedented; I'm lucky that it doesn't happen very often. One of the reasons we put off having kids was that I knew I would have a hard time leaving work at work during residency to be fully present for a small child. Sam was in graduate school at the same time and it was even more difficult for him. For many years, I was Jenny in that scene - I was afraid to ask Sam if his work was more important than our marriage. I was afraid he would say it was.

And now? Now I am almost always home for dinner, but I know I'm preoccupied with stress about work and thoughts about patients. I have to say "no" to my kid every third Saturday because I'm on call and I can't commit to whatever it is she wants me to do. There are a lot of mornings when I don't hear what's said to me because I'm in a fog from multiple overnight calls. Am I behaving as if my work is more important than my marriage? If I were answering honestly, how would I answer that question?

Overall, of course I would say my marriage is more important. Sam and Eve are the center of my life; I adore them and I want to be with them. I want them to be able to depend on me. In any one moment, though, I make choices that clearly put my work first, and those moments add up.

There's an episode of M*A*S*H in which the members of the 4077th invite their families to a party in NYC. Hawkeye assumes his dad won't leave, because he won't want to leave his patients. The elder Dr. Pierce writes back that of course he will go; "Yes, I'm attached to the patients I've brought into this world, but I'm more attached to the son I brought into this world." Hawkeye, brushing away tears, says "Funny, I always thought they came first."

I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking my patients come first. I want to show Sam and Eve now, in the moment, that they are important to me. And I want - I need - to keep the sense of myself that is only satisfied when I'm doing my work the way I know it needs to be done. Is my work more important than my marriage? No...and yes.