Monday, March 30, 2009

In Praise of Going Backwards

As a little girl, I dreamed about meeting my prince charming and living happily ever after. Most little girls have this impossible dream thanks to every cartoon ever made. We dress them up in princess gowns and put tiaras on their heads and tell them how beautiful they are. The problem is that we keep this dream as we grow up and when happily ever after has come and gone, we feel like failures. For some reason, we all believe that there is a right way to do things. You meet your soul mate, get married, buy a house, have kids and grow old together. I, however, have never done things "the right way" and for a long time I thought I was missing out on something.

When I was pregnant with my first son, it was a surprise (ie. it wasn't planned). I walked around with a growing belly and no wedding ring. And while a lot of women take their rings off as their fingers swell, I was convinced that people knew when they looked at me that I was a single mom. While most people gets hugs and congratulations, I got, "what are you going to do?" My family and friends threw me a baby shower, but there was no father to help load the gifts into the car or put together the crib and it made me sad. I wasn't sad that the real father wasn't involved because it was probably for the best. I was sad that there wasn't a father involved. I was sad that I was going through it on my own, without the other half of the "fairy-tale" equation I always dreamed of having. On the up side I didn't have to share my son with anyone. I could give him whatever I wanted and discipline him however I saw fit. Being a single parent wasn't easy, but it did made me stronger in a way that I couldn't understand at the time.

So first I had my son, and then I bought my first home. Again, I did this all by myself. While this was definitely empowering, it still wasn't the way it was suppose to be. I went to bed alone every night and woke up alone every morning. There was one car parked in the driveway and I was the only one there to take out the trash. I loved my first house and because of it I learned how to use a drill, hang curtains and mow the lawn. It too made me stronger, but again, I couldn't really appreciate it.

And then I finally met my prince charming. But instead of focusing on being thankful for finding him (which I truly was), I focused on how it had happened all wrong. And when he finally moved in and I finally had my "family" it still wasn't right. We weren't married and I didn't even have a ring. I was obsessed with having a diamond on my finger as if somehow that gave me worth. Everywhere I went I would look at woman's hands and wonder what made them so special that someone gave them a ring. I would ask myself why wasn't I that special and why couldn't I have done things the right way.

What is it about society that tells us that we need that diamond ring to be of value as a woman? Who decided that there is a right way to do things and why the hell did they have to tell me?

And then I got my ring and it finally happened, I stopped wondering why and started focusing on how - how lucky I truly was. Unfortunately, it took me a silly (but beautiful) piece of jewelry to see what I had all along. I had this amazing man who loved me even though I had done it all wrong. He loved my son as if he was his own. He made me laugh and he truly was (and is) my best friend. I love coming home to him every night and would spend every moment with him if given the chance. He is a fantastic husband and even better father and I am thankful every day for him.

So my journey wasn't the way I had planned and it wasn't the way I thought it was suppose to go. But looking back I realize that my detours in life are the reason I am so happy today.
Through my travels, I discovered the things that make me happy in life and in a mate. And I learned not to settle because at the end of the day it makes everyone miserable and live is just too short. I know that my husband is everything I want and I will never have to second guess if there is someone out there who is a better fit for me.

I also learned that in order to be happy, you just have to be yourself. I spent so much time trying to figure out what other people wanted me to be that I lost myself in the process. So I never played those games with my husband. I have fully disclosed who I am with him since the beginning, skeletons and all. Lying about who you are and what you have done is just too much work and can cause a lot of stress. Being honest is truly the most freeing thing you can do.

So it turns out that doing things the wrong way turned out to be the right way for me. Life lessons are very powerful should you choose to learn from them. My husband and I know how lucky we are to have found someone that we honestly enjoy being with more each day. Life is too short to not be happy. The trick is not only figuring out the things in life that make you happy (which can be difficult enough by itself and usually comes from figuring out what makes you unhappy), but also making decisions that invite that happiness into your life every day.

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