I was probably contently rubbing my belly as I read through a parenting magazine....that is until I read a disturbing article on how parenting does not make parents happy. In fact, studies of happiness before children verses after children showed that parents were depressed, stressed, over worked, and horribly unhappy after having children. Who wants to hear that when a baby is an incoming like a projectile missile? One that blows up in your face.
But life really can be split into two sections, B.C. and A.C. Before Child and After Child. Nothing is the same. You certainty will not be, can not be, will probably not even remember what it was like to not have a child but in the hazy dream-like quality of a day dream, a high, a crazy night on the town where you might have passed out in a parking garage.
Jason was telling me how fast we grew up and how completely we have changed since we had River. You can see the fault line clearly forming in the weeks after he was born. As my attention went from my husband to solely rest on my son and Jason became weighed down with the responsibilities of providing for a child and being yanked between that need and the need to be home with that same child. We circled River, occasionally crashing together, remembering to embrace to ask how the other person was doing, to really look at each other and see.
Children must be, hands-down, the hardest part of a marriage. Here you have created something you love more than anything else. You created it together because you love each other so much. You created this child from pure love and want nothing more than to continue to feed it with everything you are, have, can, should, and imagine you ought to. It's very easy to neglect the love that came first, the one that created the child. To go from being a partnership working together to two people working apart for the same cause. Occasionally raising tired eyes to a face that used to hold much more regard and thinking, "Ah, yes you. I forgot about you."
I'm the annoying optimist you want to throw things at. Shit, I used to despise optimists when I wasn't one--when I was a sour pessimist with a pin in hand waiting to pop my and others' balloons. But steadily I've been moving towards optimism--first forced, than tried on like shoes, then held onto like a raft when lost at sea. Bryan dying has made me a stronger person. Which seems horribly wrong, doesn't it? Unfair. Like dancing on someone's grave. But really think about it. It took that pain, that knowledge, this never ending hole that is his absence to make me look around and fiercely want to treasure what I have been given. I have something to prove. That something is that I want my grief to transcend myself. I want Bryan's death to mean more than pain and anger and a pointless waste. I want his death to move like ripples in a pond, through me, to make the world I touch somehow better. As if I could spread my love for him instead of letting it turn me inwards--to my own sadness. Because nothing so good should become so tainted because it has changed--a horrible, unfair, agonizing change, true. But love just the same.
So blame it on my optimism that I can look at my husband and assure him that things will get better and easier (and believe it). Believe that I embrace my moment in time because I know it will change and fade. My children will grow and I will miss those days when they cuddled in my arms, threw tantrums, pissed themselves in public, and cried with fever. I will miss this time, I know I will. Sometimes it is harder for Jason to feel that. He might know it, but he can't feel it as clearly as I can. He's more logical. More in the moment. More fixed in time.
I don't believe that the changes we have gone through means love has changed. Though I am older and wiser and have experienced more of life, I am still that same girl who flung myself into my husband's arms shrieking every time he walked in the door. I can summon up those memories and feel what I felt then and in that way I still am then.
I feel like time if fluid. That my memories make that so. That somewhere I am nineteen kissing Jason till my lips feel raw. That somewhere my brother is jumping off the roof into the pool while my mother isn't home--against her orders not to ever do that again. That somewhere my father and mother stare down at my newborn face until their necks ache.
I believe that there is usually some seed of good, of great, of grand amidst all the crap that might of spawned from it. If I can remember that, I can move on with faith that more good things are to come.
And I know they are.