A thought occurred to me the other day, about our idea of what love is as a culture, and how potentially harmful it is. We seem to associate true love with true drama. Think about it: all the classic stories of the good girl falling for the bad boy, or relationships going through problem after problem before they make it to the finish line… this is the stuff of movies. Even if the problems are inflicted on the couple from outside forces, it still reinforces it in our collective brains that love is made sweeter by drama.
I call bullshit on that.
Real love is when your husband picks all the red gummy bears out of the bag for you because he knows they’re your favorite.
Real love is when he lets you cry on his shoulder even when there’s snot and drool running down your face.
Real love is changing a poopy diaper after you’ve been working all day so your wife doesn’t have to change her seventh.
Notice how there was no mention of fights, familial warfare or thwarting enemies in any of those statements? Unfortunately, no one makes movies about quiet Sunday mornings where the only conflict between the characters is whether they drive to Fred Meyer or the grocery store first. But isn’t that really what we want for our kids? Love isn’t supposed to be the stuff netflix is made of. Love is supposed to be comfortable. Love is supposed to be something you can depend on to get you through even the darkest days.
That is what I wish for my daughter.
Statistically, in 2014, 1 in 274 households were broken into. There’s nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a stranger trying to find his way into your home. Or even better, you get a heavy knot in the pit of your stomach when you realize they may have already succeeded, and the unfamiliar noise you hear is actually coming from your living room.
This has happened to my husband and I twice.
We were fortunate enough that the first time it happened, we came out of our bedroom to find the rest of the house undisturbed ( we still don’t know what the noise was. It has sounded as if someone was rummaging through our kitchen drawers. Then it sounded like someone was trying to move our eliptical. It was that loud. I’m going with “ghost” as the explanation, but that’s a story for another time). The second time, the sound that we thought was a child crying on our front porch ended up being two cats fighting like Roman gladiators outside. We’ve all heard the stories about people using a child to play on a victim’s sympathies so that they will open their locked door and find a criminal waiting for them on the other side. On a side note, if you are ever in this situation, do the safe thing and call the police.
While a part of me was still terrified, I was able to keep my cool, and have, dare I say, a sense of calm. There was exactly one reason for that:
My husband and I have guns.
If our original thought had been correct, and there had been someone in our home, we would have been able to defend ourselves. We would have been able to protect our nine-week-old daughter. I understand that some people say that a knife or a baseball bat is still a weapon, but I’ll tell you one thing: if the person in your house has a gun, they aren’t going to let you get close enough to stab them or hit them.
I realize that some people don’t believe in guns, or aren’t comfortable with them. That is entirely your choice. But there’s nothing that shatters your sense of control quite like a break-in. Part of why I am comfortable with guns is because from a very young age, both my husband and my families taught us that guns are to be respected. They are not toys. My husband and I ALWAYS treat our weapons like they are loaded. When he was younger, he did competitive shooting. By all means, if you have a gun, you need to familiarize yourself with your weapon if you plan on using it. If you aren’t willing to use it when the situation calls for it, then yes, maybe for you it’s better to not have it at all.
Something else that my husband came up with that I recommend all responsible adults do: we practice loading our weapons at inconvenient times: when we’re tired, when we’re stressed…why? Because a criminal is not going to make sure that they break into your house after you’ve had a full night’s rest and just took a calming bath. You need to be able to think, and use your weapon properly in any circumstances. Believe me, the first time my husband made me load my gun at one in the morning, I was not amused. But after I thought about it, I knew he was right.
I know you anti-gun advocates are probably seething as you read this. That’s ok. That’s why I love America: we can disagree. And I’m not saying we should take a drive to the nearest mental hospital and start handing out AK-47s. Most of us do want to make sure we don’t let guns fall into the hands of people who have cruel and horrendous intentions. But we have to be careful of the slippery slope: we don’t want to regulate guns right out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. Regulations don’t fix bad common sense either, and unfortunately, that will always be a factor in the gun control saga. By all means, disagree with me. The minute we’re afraid to have a healthy dialogue, we all lose. All I can speak from is my own experience, and in those instances, I am more than happy with the fact that I live in a country where I have the ability to defend myself and my family.
Another important note to remember: we all would like to think that when we call 911, the police can be at our door within a minute and a half to save us. That is not always the case. It’s not like each house has its own police officer who is assigned to protect it and only it. Sometimes, 911 operators have to prioritize because there aren’t always enough officers to go around. Scary thought, right? Of course, if you call and say “someone is in my house,” they will probably be there right away. But what about in situations where you aren’t sure? I can tell you that when we called 911 and said there was crying coming from our front porch, it took at least fifteen minutes for the police to show up. Thank God it was only cats, but what if it wasn’t? What if they were wrong in thinking that our situation wasn’t an emergency? Fifteen minutes is plenty of time for someone to break our door down, or climb through a window. When it comes to your family’s safety, do you really want to have to depend on someone else’s judgement call?
Thank you for reading.
So most of the time, shows I love don’t get nominated for anything and it makes me mad (minus this year with Viola Davis…well done! ). So I decided to highlight the people/shows that I deem worthy, cuz well ya know it’s my blog and I can do what I want. So drum roll please… Mads Mikkelsen– I never thought I could enjoy a portrayal of Hannibal Lector as much as I did that of Anthony Hopkins, but I was happily proved wrong. Though sadly the show is over, Mads you did him proud and I’ll remember it fondly. Kurt Sutter- Are you f-ing kidding that the writer of one of the most popular shows of all time (Sons of Anarchy) has never got an emmy nod? I guess that just happened by magic then? Melissa McBride- Here’s another magic one. The Walking Dead’s popularity must have nothing to do with the cast? Must just be the zombies? Please… McBride’s Carol has been amazing always but the Lizzy episode ( if you watch the show you know what I’m talking about) was above and beyond. If it didn’t deserve an emmy I don’t know what does. What about you? Feel free to add your own awards to the comments below.
I debated a long time about writing this post. I’m not usually a very deep sharer, if you will. I prefer to keep my private thoughts and fears private. But in this particular instance, I’m wondering if other people have experienced the same thoughts that I have during this whole pregnancy adventure. So please, feel free to share your own words, and maybe we can learn from each other, or at the very least, feel like we aren’t the only one to ever experience something.
I am over the moon about our daughter coming into the world. I can’t wait to squeeze her and see her tiny little fingers for the first time. But I have noticed that this whole process has triggered something else in my head, something far less fun to talk about: I know it’s completely ridiculous, and that I have no control over the world spinning, but it’s almost as though I feel like by deciding to have children, I have given permission for time to pass into a different phase, as if I’d somehow given permission for the aging process to begin. Since I found out I was pregnant I have become more aware than I have ever been that there will eventually be a time where my parents and our dogs will no longer be here on this earth with us, and my heart is breaking. (***Note: I have a HUGE phobia of something happening to my husband, a deep, penetrating fear that goes deep to my bones that makes it extremely difficult to watch him get on an airplane, but that started long before I got pregnant, and is a story for another post)
My parents and I have always been very close. I am an only child, and until I got married, we didn’t have much extended family in the area. There was never a performance or recital where I looked out into the audience and didn’t see my parents waving back at me. I always knew that my mom would be standing in the kitchen watching Northwest Afternoon when I got home from school, and if I was lucky, the house would smell of cookies. They always made sure I knew they were there for me, and we helped each other through anything life threw our way. Now that I’m married, they show the same unending support to my husband, and what was three has now become four.
My dogs are my babies. Period. They are my children and I love them as such (if you are one of those people who doesn’t think of your dogs as your kids/a member of your family, you are entitled to your opinion, but you might as well unfollow my blog because I talk about them all the time). The first year of Bee’s life, I was pretty much by myself. My good friends were spread across many states, and in some cases, across the world. Of course I had my parents, but when you are at the age where you are years out of college, you usually want to hang out with people your own age. So needless to say, my social life was scant at best. It was Bee and I against the world. She took care of me as much as I took care of her, if not more. When I’d be getting depressed as I popped in a movie that I had just picked up from the video store (again), she would snuggle up in the nape of my neck, as if to say “don’t worry, mom, you have me, and everything’s going to be fine.” And she was right. Besides that, I liked her more than I liked most people anyway.
I met Bubba on my third date with my husband. When I walked in his house for the first time, a little teddy-bear-face greeted me at the door, and I’m sure my heart just exploded. He looked up at me with his big brown eyes, and has spent his every waking moment (and his sleeping moments as it were) making me smile. He snorts when he’s happy, and I’m pretty sure if that sound doesn’t melt your heart then you have no soul. All he ever wants from the world is to snuggle and get belly rubs, and of course, to tell his mom and dad how much he loves them with a thousand kisses.
So before I get to what The Walking Dead has to do with any of this, I have to give you a little bit of background on my personal spiritual structure. I believe in God. Part of that belief comes from coming up with answers to the universe’s most puzzling questions. One of the most haunting ones that comes up when someone is trying to decide what they think about such an important aspect of life is this: why do bad things happen to good people, and vice versa? A great question, and a valuable one. The answer that I have come up with that makes sense to me, is this: all things in the universe exist in balance. You can’t know what good means without bad. You can’t know what fairness is without unfairness to compare it to. Everything is somewhat defined by what it isn’t, and some things in God’s great world come at a price.
Which brings me to The Walking Dead, and something that The Governor (of all people) said during one episode. If you are a fan, you know that The Governor is not usually someone you would look to as a purveyor of universal wisdom. But that day, he said something that stuck with me. A person was suffering, going over every good and bad decision he had made in his life, and The Governor told him it was “time to pay the bill.”
No one likes to suffer, or looks forward to it. But in certain situations, the reason WHY we suffer is because we had something so wonderful. Loss would not be so profoundly difficult if the thing we lost wasn’t precious. If my parents spent my childhood passing me from babysitter to random relative to some random boarding school out of state instead of giving me the best childhood anyone could ask for, if they had removed themselves from my life as an adult by just not giving a shit, the suffering that losing them will bring would be significantly less. If I hadn’t been able to call my mom several times a day, and get advice from my dad whenever I needed it, maybe the wound wouldn’t cut so deep. If our dogs didn’t bring so much unconditional joy into our lives, maybe I wouldn’t be broken apart when they leave this earth. If they didn’t make my husband and I so happy every time they curled up to sleep on our laps, maybe our hearts would remain in tact.
When the tab comes due, we have to pay for the gifts we are given. The suffering that is imminent (though hopefully years away) is terrifying, and I know it will be a big job to put me back together again. I thank God that I have the best husband in the world, and that we will carry each other through it, but we will both be hurting deeply. But would either of us choose to give up the goodness that has been brought into our lives by my parents, Bee and Bubba? Never. It’s going to hurt because they are worth hurting for. Our hearts are going to break because they were made so full.
And that, my friends, is the bill we have to pay.
I asked myself a question the other day, one which I haven’t quite answered yet, and I am wondering what other people think. I was watching the cooking competition show Masterchef, and two contestants were squaring off against each other (WARNING: If you haven’t seen the episode yet, you may want to stop reading now). One had made a mistake and the result was that he did not have enough ingredients to redo the recipe to the correct ratios. The judges asked the other contestant, “If he had asked you for some extra (sugar, flour, whatever, I don’t remember the exact one), would you have given it to him?”
“Yes I would, Chef,” she responded.
Now here’s where I’m torn: on the one hand, it’s a competition. If she doesn’t win against this person, she goes home….game over. And part of competing is staying focused and not making mistakes, and if someone does, they need to be responsible for the consequences for those mistakes. So for that reason, I would initially think I would have said no.
There’s another part of me who would want to know that I beat him strictly because of my cooking. I would want to know that I didn’t just beat him because he made a mistake. Running out of ingredients doesn’t necessarily make you a bad chef…perhaps a bad competitor, but not a bad chef. So in that sense, I would want to say yes.
What about you, dear readers? What would you say and why?
I had an epiphany the other day. It seems, at least for us artsy types, that we spend the first part of our adult lives figuring out how to go back to the way we were when we were five. I saw a similar post on a friend’s website the other day, so I know I’m not alone on this. When we’re five, everything seems achievable: being a writer, being an astronaut…whatever dream comes into our juvenile little heads, we see no reason why we can’t achieve it.
At what point were we told we were wrong about that?
Somewhere between age five and age thirty, our perspective gets all screwed up. I don’t know if it comes from the first bill we ever have to pay on our own, or the first relative who tells us, with a chuckle, “no really, what do you want to do with your life?” Either way, that five-year-old gets lost along the way.
And it takes a while to get them back.
Some people never do. Some people find themselves on their deathbed, thinking “yeah I never did write that story/paint that painting/build that house, but I sure met everyone else’s expectations of me.” It’s crazy that we were are most true selves before we even reached junior high.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a life for yourself, in whatever way that means. There are other dreams that come with being an adult that are also valid: wanting a house, wanting to be able to travel…these things are important too.
But somewhere along the line, it seems like we got the idea in our head that we had to choose. One or the other. House or art. Cruise or culture. What is it that makes us think we can’t have both? There never seems to be enough time in the day, but if you really want something, you’ll find a way to squeeze it in. And you may find that half-hour that you shove into your schedule is the best part of your day.
Five-Year-Old-Me told me that.