Remember that show in the 90’s ThirtySomething? You might have to be at least 35, or something, to remember. It was kind of like the show My So Called Life, but for yuppies. I loved the show My So Called Life by the way. Jared Leto was so hot. Anyway, ThirtySomething portrayed the lives of a group of friends in their 30’s with all the burdens and joys of having a family, finding love, building a career, keeping it all together, all while coming out alive with no scars or kids on drugs. The show was a parody for what a close friend of mine calls the "Corporate Check List". That abridged checklist looks something like this:
Over the years I have veered from my list, come back to it, added to it, made some amendments with bullet points and eventually checked some things off the list. The more I try not to conform to my list; my mind keeps going back to it. There are these expectations the world put out there for me and not all of them have been reached so I want someone to tell me it is ok. Nobody is telling me it is ok, they are just telling more things about themselves that make it ok to not have checked things off my particular list. This is my list, not their list. Just because two people's lists look somewhat the same does not mean that my list does not get checked. You did something on your list that worked, and it did not work on my list. Does that make my list flawed? And how do I know it REALLY worked on your list, you could be lying. You could be saying it worked and then be crying in your grits every night. I am trying to make a point here.
So this week after going over my list in my head with myself, I decided to throw it out. It is not literally written on piece of paper, but it is out there in the universe comparing and contrasting with other people’s lists. Orbiting and landing on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The hard part is admitting that it is OK not to keep the list. People who still follow their lists are not bad people; they just don’t understand my particular journey. So if I am going to whine about my list, I am not going to whine to someone who still never veers far from their list. List people will never understand straying from the list. Structured list people are now boring to me and do not help the cause.
There are lots of things I have wanted to get off my chest recently and reasons why I am finally throwing this list the way of the dodo birds. Confession: I started throwing out the list along time ago, I just didn’t tell anyone. Walking to the beat of your own drum scares people some times. So while I was liberating myself before I knew how important just being myself was, I was still walking the line every now and then to keep things in order.
My first experience in liberation was just one conversation I had with a roommate in 2004. I was upset because my career was not taking off like I planned and I was working two jobs. I had a day job in advertising sales, and a night job running food at a restaurant in Atlanta. My day job was entry level; I was really bad at it and got paid nothing. I had no plans to move up in my day job and was lost in my career. My night job was profitable, hard, and challenging I was really good at it. But a Waitress Career was not on my list. I was complaining about this to my roommate and she made a great point. I was making a living. Who cares how I made that living. I was paying my bills, I was not doing exactly what I wanted with my college degree (checked that off my list BTW) but I was surviving. This moment was the first time I veered from my list and was open to changing it a little. Thank you Meredith Collins Palmer, wherever you are with your nice husband and two beautiful children. Please tell me you have amended your list too. I love you.
Let’s be honest about the list. "Husband" is on 9/10 girl’s checklists. The ladies that tell you it is not on their list secretly have it on there! Who knew? The people that want it the most will never tell you, they want you to always wonder. And the people that are somewhere in between will tell you the truth. I was somewhere in between but husband was 95.5% on my list. Hey I’m being honest, I wanted a husband, but I was never going to settle. I just wanted to marry for love. Love was the answer to everything in my twenties. It was all a ton of fun and dramatic tears and depression medication until it went nowhere, and right when I was just about to take Husband off my list FOREVER “the one” came along. CHECK PLEASE.
He was not perfect at first, but he had great hair. He had some flaws, like wearing 1999 Levi's button fly jeans, but he was really smart and whitty. I thought to myself, would my Papa Henry, may he rest in peace, like this man? And my self answered, yes, because this man loves me. He made me laugh and he was a damn good writer, still is by the way. He was honest with me. He could not offer the white picket fence and the walk-in closet right away but he was a good man and I knew it. We would grow old together, it was obvious we had what it takes. So eventually after some courtship and a couple jack and cokes every now and then we ended up together. And after 6.5 years we are doing just fine. I threw out the idea of the white picket fence, who needs one anyway. Picket fences are overrated and mostly owned by old frat dudes who wear clothes that look like easter eggs. You have to repaint it every year, the mailman trips over it; the thing is hard to mow around etc…
Which brings me to the next point about THE LIST. The husband box on every girls list is one of the most important boxes. And it is not what you think. The Husband box will never define you. It does not matter if that man is a doctor or a lawyer or a banker. You are you, you can't hide behind your husband. It does not matter if he is a stay at home dad, a CEO or if he builds white picket fences for a living. And the most important thing is it does not matter how much money is in his bank account. You have to ask yourself if all the money went away, would you still love him? Could you help him survive the storm? Or, if he had five dollars and he won 20 million, would he be the same man? If the answer is yes for both then get out your list and check your Husband box honey! What people see from the outside is not going to get you through a marriage. Every marriage has problems. And if your friends tell you they have a perfect marriage then they are lying like dead roosters after a cockfight. Just because you got to mark that box off your list does not hold a can of pickles to how you live your life after the wedding. Everybody has a season, and when the storm comes no list, or expectation, or perfect quote on Facebook about how your husband is the best thing since iced cookies for taking you on that Babymoon, whatever the hell a Babymoon is, is gonna make your life better. Throw out the list, because nothing you write on facebook will save you. There are only three things that can save you in a marriage, LOVE, RESPECT, and good old fashion PATIENCE. If you DO go on a Babymoon or HAVE gone on one... I think it is pretty much and done deal. Everybody I know right now is going and deleting their Babymoon pictures on FB, sorry. It is just weird. It is a vacation when you are pregnant. Pregnant woman go to Sandals Resorts all the time. Why do we have to get all Pinterest about it?
I believe that we as a society are not conditioned to wait anymore for the good things to come to us. We want it now, and we want it to look like Pottery Barn with white crown molding and linen drapes. But a good relationship waits out the storm. So if you insist on still having a list and you subscribe to Pottery Barn, next to Husband on your list add "Install Tornado Shelter". Because when the storm comes you better be in that shelter together.
I have tons of examples of how people's expectations for me to have a list try and define me. One good example is kids, and our plans for having them. We don’t have kids yet. I sometimes get sad that we don’t have kids yet. I sometimes have moments where I am happy that we don’t have kids yet. I sometimes wonder if not having kids and wanting them is part of the universes plan to make me stronger. Slow down Universe, I won't go on a Babymoon, I just want a kid. Sometimes when I get really stressed out about checking that box of my list I get what I call the Peter Pan itch, like I am 19 again. It happens like twice a year. I will find a cigarette to smoke from like 2010 in the back of a drawer in our kitchen and then I go to my front stoop and take a shot of whiskey and think…If I wasn't doing this would the Universe give me a kid? Folks reading this are probably judging me right now. How immature of me to take a shot of whiskey on my porch and to smoke a cigarette. No wonder I don’t have kids yet. The shame. If worse come to worse they can always pray for me. Pray for me please. Pray for the 38 year old taking a shot of whisky. I actually like praying. It is the only time I can have a conversation with someone that does not talk back. I can tell god everything and actually not hearing unsolicited advice back is peaceful. I can just talk and hope he is listening. I am pretty sure he is. Once a really nice person left a note on my desk at work. It said, God's best for you is yet to come. That is truly the only advice that gave me 100% peace about anything.
Let’s be honest. For someone my age that has been married for 6 years this “thing” about not having kids gets really hard to address to the “list” people. Don't get me wrong I love the movie “She’s Having a Baby”. Kevin Bacon is a writer in that film, just like my husband. So hypothetically if we were having a baby I would watch that move like every night. I love the part when he puts his coffee cup on her pregnant stomach. I always dreamed of marrying someone like his character in that movie, and I did, so I got a win already.It is one of my personal favorites, especially at the end when she almost dies and he runs in and meets the baby then she wakes up and all their dreams come true becasue they are the cool parents that weathered the storm, while everybody else was going to PTO, making fruit salad and mowing their grass in the suburbs.
I know for a fact people that are not close to us wonder why we still don’t have kids, and frankly it is none of their business. There are people out there that love to ask questions and give really great advice. They mean well but sometimes I feel like that pillow that was on my college roommate’s bed. It was a picture of a cow that had tipped over on its back and above the cow and it said,“I mean really?" Makes me laugh every time.
Words come at me from practical strangers like they are flying out of an industrial sized fan...
“You know my neighbor’s mother’s second cousin twice removed who decided to adopt got pregnant the moment they signed the papers, she literally felt the sperm implant into the egg at the moment she let go of her dream of having her own child. You should adopt so you can get pregnant.”
“You remind me of that girl on TV, oh yeah, Giuliana Rancic. She hired a surrogate and the surrogate and had one baby for them and just last week the same surrogate miscarried. Why they put themselves through that again, I will never understand. Have you considered a surrogate? I, as a mother, just wish everybody could be a mother."
"I just rolled over and got pregnant, It was almost like immaculate conception. We are so blessed, I will pray for you."
"You should go on a mission trip to Africa and get one of those babies. So many people are doing it now, think about it"
"You should go on a mission trip to Africa and get one of those babies. So many people are doing it now, think about it"
(the above are not exactly true comments, but a conglomerate of statements I have pulled together from my personal life and from good friends and funny strangers who openly have shared their stories with me on the subject. I admire people who have gone all over the world to adopt children and find their spirits to be true and open and wonderful. These statements do not reflect my opinion of adoption or any other method of childbearing)
Everyone has an opinion on this even when they have no idea where I stand in the matter. I love people and I am not bitter nor do I take offense to their comments. I just think it is healthy to be able to joke about it and write about my experiences. And how I choose to handle that particular subject in my life is my choice and my husband’s choice. I have had to train myself that my life is not always better when it is an open book. A good part of my life with my husband is a privilege and better when it is private to most and will remain private till the day I die. Although going to Africa on a mission trip is never out of the question, but I am Jewish, so it would have to be a Jewish mission trip. Do they even have Jewish mission trips? If not, they should. Converting the world using one good chosen person at a time makes a lot of sense when you really think about it.