Saturday, April 30, 2011

God Forbid

Back in 2005, author Ayelet Waldman published an essay in the New York Times about how she loves her husband more than her children. Much of the essay dwelled on her wondering why she seems to be the only one who feels this way, that every other mother she knows would sacrifice anything, even their husband, for their children, but to her, her husband is her “sun” while her children are “moons”. The best expression of her feelings went like this:

I often engage in the parental pastime known as God Forbid. What if, God forbid, someone were to snatch one of my children? God forbid. I imagine what it would feel like to lose one or even all of them. I imagine myself consumed, destroyed by the pain. And yet, in these imaginings, there is always a future beyond the child's death. Because if I were to lose one of my children, God forbid, even if I lost all my children, God forbid, I would still have him, my husband.

But my imagination simply fails me when I try to picture a future beyond my husband's death. Of course I would have to live. I have four children, a mortgage, work to do. But I can imagine no joy without my husband.
When I first heard about the article, Linda was several months pregnant, and Waldman’s feelings resonated with me. The romantic in me wanted to believe that our child would not lessen my passion for Linda, and since the relationship between a mother and a father forms the basis for their child’s idea of a healthy relationship, I didn’t feel guilty for going against the cultural norm of “child first, spouse second” (all right, maybe I felt a little guilty). I promised myself that we would go out on a date at least once a week, we would have sex on at least a semi-regular basis (after a reasonable amount of time had passed), and not lose sight of the slow-burning core of a relationship we had before we became a couple “with child”.

But even as I thought those thoughts, I wondered what the reality would be like. I wasn’t na├»ve enough to believe I knew exactly how our new life would play out. So, now, five months in, all I can say is: Wow, it’s damn hard to live up to those expectations.

See what you think. Here’s a link to Ayelet Waldman’s article:

161 days old

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