In December, John and I attended a wedding. While there, we sat with our friends Hugh and Kim. They had just shared the news that they were expecting, and I was happily chatting to Kim about all the fun little things that women gush about when discussing pregnancies and newborns.
While we were talking, Kim reached over to Hugh and said, "I can't wait to see you as a dad. You were always so good with Tucker (their deceased dog). You're just a big kid yourself. You're going to be such a great father. You already are."
My heart melted into my shoes because Hugh really is one of the most stand-up individuals I've ever come across. That kid is incredibly lucky to be finding itself blessed with Hugh for a dad.
Anyway, as my heart was melting, I noticed that Hugh was tearing up. Kim noticed, too, and she patted his arm and kissed him - emotional that he was emotional over the joy their child was already bringing. I looked away then, because I knew I was witnessing something very personal... very intimate... and I felt a pang of jealousy that Hugh appreciated the gift he'd been given in a child while John could not.
I said nothing of this and forced the knot in my throat to relax. Kim and I went back to discussing baby things until John joined us at the table.
That week, I stewed over the issue of children again. The fact that Vincent is at that age where he demands a playmate for everything he does wasn't helping.
Normally John and I don't mind getting onto the floor to play with Vincent all the time. However, the particular weekend this happened the two of us had watched Vince play for a couple hours with Alliya, ignoring us completely because he had a playmate to share his imagination with. I'll admit... it was blissful not being pulled a million times onto the floor to play with army soldiers or color or hide under a tent or do any other number of things kids enjoy doing.
I'm not saying I don't like playing with my son. I am saying, however, that I don't like being his only playmate.
So, the next day, John was tired from having spent the morning as Vince's personal playmate. He was expecting me to take over playmate duties for the afternoon. Problem was, I was in the middle of cooking. I was also still stewing with frustration and hurt because of various things like the conversation with Hugh and Kim above. As a result of this, I said something very spiteful with the express purpose of cutting into him.
When John said, "I've been playing with him all morning. It's your turn," I sorta flipped. I found the opening I was waiting for and practically skipped into the living room to deliver the blow.
I hissed, "No. He SHOULD be playing with children his own age, John. He SHOULD be playing with a sibling or two because THAT is what kids do. They play with other children, NOT their parents all the time. It's not right and it's not fair that you're too selfish to see that."
I then went back to cooking, still angry and now carrying guilt for having lashed out in such a way. I wanted to apologize, but I wasn't sorry yet. I felt bad, but I knew I wasn't entirely remorseful for saying such a cruel thing.
John, for his part, didn't say two words. He was angry - I knew he was angry - but I think he also felt guilty because my words had a ring of truth. So he just kept quiet, waiting for me to break the ice.
And I did. A few hours later, after Vince had gone to bed, I apologized while folding the laundry. I said I was sorry, and he said, "Okay. I know you didn't mean it, so it's whatever. You were angry, and people say stuff when they're angry."
I stopped folding laundry and I looked him square in the eye. I said, "John, I'm not sorry for saying what I said. I was right. He deserves to play with other kids, and that's what siblings are for. When I apologized, I was saying sorry for how and why I said it. Yes, I said it because I was angry, but I mostly said it because I wanted to hurt you. I wanted to hurt you in a way that would make you understand just how hurtful this situation is to me sometimes... how hurtful it can be to Vincent."
He was taken aback, I think, at the realization that I had been so spiteful.
I explained further, "The last couple months, we found out about several people who are having children. Just last week, we talked to Hugh and Kim about their pregnancy and how excited you were for them to become parents... how happy you were for Hugh that he was going to experience all the things you did with Vince. Do you even feel a twinge of desire for that sort of feeling again? I do. And for as happy as I am for them, I'm also jealous that they get to experience that with one another. I'm jealous that they get to know the joy of creating life between them... that they get to share that life with family and friends... that they get to be the bearers of such happiness... that they get to unfold all the wonder and anticipation and excitement that comes from parenting for the rest of their days. I'm thrilled for them and at the same time my heart wrestles with the pain of knowing I'm denied these things. I am denied doing the one thing I was brought into this world to do, and sometimes I cannot get past that.
So yes, me cutting into you that way - it was a terribly childish way of trying to force you to feel some of the pain I feel on a routine basis. I sometimes wonder if you even realize how difficult this is for me. Seeing you get happy and excited for children of you friends when you scoff at the idea of having another of your own? I just... it boggles my mind. So yes. I'm sorry for why I said what I said, because I should never want to hurt you. I'm sorry that I did hurt your feelings, and I'm pretty ashamed of myself for being so spiteful. That being said, I am NOT sorry for what was said. What I said was true and I stand behind it. I don't, however, stand behind my motive and method, so I'm sorry for that."
He remained pretty quiet. I had been fighting back tears through my explanation, and I knew he was trying to figure out what to say. I still think he was pretty surprised at my reasons because he finally said he hadn't really thought about how things were from my perspective. Considering how little I bring this topic up now, he probably thought it was a dead issue. Apparently this was his wake-up call that such an issue would never really be "dead" for me.
It might be something I've come to accept, but that doesn't mean it's something that makes me happy.
So he remained mostly silent for the rest of the night. I finished folding my clothes and he suggested we watch a movie together. I, having retreated into myself having been spent emotionally, sat on the couch opposite him. I wanted to be by myself and away from him, but I knew that'd just make things worse. I also knew he was trying to make amends in the best way he knew how, and TV is his way of smoothing over everything.
He popped something in. I don't even remember what it was at this point. What I do remember is what he did after putting it in. He came over to where I was sitting and put his head on my lap. He wanted to ask me to sit with him, but I think he was worried I'd say no. Instead, he just knelt on the floor in front of me with his head on my lap. Then, when I didn't shove him away, he put his arms around me and just laid there.
Neither one of us said anything. We didn't have to. We knew, without words, that we'd reached an understanding. He'd forgiven me for being a bit of a terrible wife just then, and I'd forgiven him for forgetting just how hurtful the situation can be for me sometimes.
I really appreciated that moment, because he proved yet again he's a man worth loving. He took some time to process what I'd said. He had heard me and he sympathized. He understood and took responsibility for his part, and he came over to offer comfort as best he could. Him just being there, letting me vent, accepting his part, not getting upset with me and instead forgiving me because he allowed himself to understand my perspective... it meant a lot. Within that moment I felt myself burst with love for him.
Odd that such a situation... such a potential to be a powder keg... ended in me loving and appreciating him so much more.
He's a good man, my husband. Again, for as much of a cross as this issue can sometimes be, I really do come to understand just how much we need fire to purify ourselves.
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