I have been struggling to write this week's post. I would very much prefer to write some nice, light-hearted expose on traditional marriage or perhaps something related to Catholic spirituality. I would love be able to delight and to entertain. Instead, I have a rather serious confession to make, one which I must share with you. Are you ready? Here it is: I am not a Stepford Wife. I am not a saint. I am simply a real woman with real issues and real struggles-- and someone who is, I am afraid, horribly, wonderfully, uniquely, and irrevocably human.
Lest you are wondering, allow me to assure you that this post is not related to misbehaviour. I've actually manged to be good for quite some time now, believe it or not. Nothing has been thrown across the family room as of late. :-) Due to this turn of events, a new policy was instituted in our household: Each day a minimum of twenty smacks, lashes, or swats is administered with whatever implement my Husband sees fit, at a time of his choosing. I can imagine your eyebrow arching. How, you might wonder, does good behaviour equal discipline? But that is the wrong way to look at it. Allow me to explain. You see, my high-spirited personality type is best tamed by preventative measures rather than reactionary ones. Of course, I want to be good simply for its own sake. I desire to please God above all else, and it pains me when I have failed. It is in this light that I find the new policy a blessing to my soul. It is very helpful to face the day in this way, with the base of twenty lashes looming over my head. It affords just enough terror at the thought of impending discipline to be an effective deterrent against the sort of poor choices that would add to the count. And it gives me just enough correction to make my soul feel sufficiently subdued.
But, as I said before, this has nothing to do with what has been on my heart and mind lately.
If I were to be honest with myself, if I were to be honest with you as my reader, I would have to admit that I am scared. Why am I scared? Life as I know it is changing forever, and it is both exciting and frightening all at once.
For the past several years-- nearly for the entirely of our marriage-- my Husband has been working on his terminal degree. Our lives have revolved around this goal. Where we live, who we interact with on a daily basis, and even our constant traveling has all been an integral part of this experience. Now it is drawing to a close. Next week, my Husband has a final interview at a prominent university in the metropolitan area of where he grew up. This will determine, for sure, which of two places we end up at permanently. In less than two months, he will be presenting and defending his dissertation. Provided that he passes, he will then be awarded the degree at the final graduation exercises. Almost immediately thereafter, we will be moving to our new home. Wherever that may be. It is a relief to finally see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I would not want to have to repeat these long years-- they have been ones of stress and sacrifice, and I have witnessed the toll that they have taken upon my beloved. And yet, they have been beautiful years, too, in their own way.
I think what I fear most of all are my own inadequacies. I fear being so far below, and so far removed from, my Husband that I will never be able to bridge this ever-expanding chasm between us. I understand that my Husband and I are not equals. I understand that we have different roles. I certainly believe in traditional marriage. Yet something I cannot quite put my finger on haunts me.
My Husband tried to cheer me up by quipping that all of the two and three-lettered acronyms after his name do not necessarily reflect intelligence, they merely certified his "nerd-dom." That earned him an incredulous grin. While I do appreciate his attempt at humour, the differences between us still seem so far apart. What will life be like once we move? Currently, I take part in the collegiality of my Husband's department, and all of his friends are my friends, too. They accept me as one of them. In the future, this certainly will not be the case. Where will my place be? I fear that I will forever be seen as a parasitic housewife-- mooching off of my Husband's good fortune while being neither a trophy wife nor a post-graduate with career ambitions. The work I enjoy on the side, when I am not keeping my home, consists of either hobbies or ministries. I admit that this was the most difficult part of being a traditional wife. I am used to being so independent, making my own way and earning my own keep. I am sometimes afraid of what others think.
At the very core of the issue, though, what I worry about most is losing my Husband's interest. I fear no longer being worthy of his love. The same old questions nag at me, as they always do: What makes me special? What have I done with my life? Anything of particular note? When my life is over, how will my loved ones remember me? These are important questions, to be sure. Their answers help to shape the life that is lived. Nevertheless, I have come to realise that to ask such things within this context would be to miss the point entirely. My Husband does not love me for what I do, but simply for who I am.
And just who am I? I am a Catholic woman who thinks deeply, loves much, and laughs often. My passion is to make a difference in the lives of others for the sake of Christ. My highest goal in this regard is to imitate the Blessed Mother of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in her simplicity, humility, and obedience. I am a small soul, but one with great love.
My personality, I must admit, though, is rather eclectic. I am an odd mixture of sassy and sweet, outgoing but shy, and a homebody who possesses an quite an adventurous spirit! I have been known to travel half-way across the world at the drop of a hat. I have lived in twelve different places since leaving my parents' home. And yet, I am most at home in my kitchen, sporting one of my frilly aprons, working on some new masterpiece of allergen-free culinary delight!
If you knew me in everyday life, you would see a young woman with waist-length hair dressed in modest, trendy attire, perhaps with a dreamy gaze or a quick, rather impish grin. It takes so very little to amuse me. There would also be an iced coffee in my hand-- yes, even in the deepest and darkest days of winter, this is a necessity. I love old movies, I am an absolute sucker for musicals, bookstores feed my very soul, and I am always up for a good conversation or debate! Family and friends are very important to me, as well. As for my faith, it is the very breath that sustains me. Yes, I also hold very traditional views regarding marriage and gender roles, but that is okay. I am happy with who I am, with what I believe, and how these things affect all aspects of everyday life. My Husband did not want to marry a woman with whom he would have to compete with, career-wise. He desired a sweet, submissive wife who would support him, adore him, honour him, and with whom he could experience life.
We are an odd pair, my Husband and I, but so perfectly matched. I am creative where he is analytical, passionate where he is level-headed, and spontaneous where he is more of a grounding force. We compliment one another. Our faith and traditional views hold us together. Beyond all of that, however, we are best friends. Even if I do not always understand my Husband's love, even if I do not particularly like it at times, I am truly grateful for this tangible reflection of God's love.
I will have no fear of the future-- for He is already in each tomorrow. I will simply trust and obey. No matter what the next day might bring, no matter how much life may change, it will be alright. It will be a new adventure, a new chapter of our lives. And, throughout it all, I will continue to simply be myself.