More on babies and love and marriage and general shit.
Yeah, I’ve been thinking about this a lot, but in my self defense it’s only been, oh, about four or five months since I really resigned myself to the end of a ten year relationship. If I go by what I’ve heard before, which is a month for every year, I figure I still have more than half a year to go.
Seriously though, this came up the other day when we were at lunch. I was talking with my aunt and my cousins and of course, significant others came up again. And of course, there was that song. And then there was that lovely, depressing, uplifting, heart-shattering book by Barbara Bretton…
I heard from someone once that we are our forefathers, that we reincarnate endlessly as our own descendants so long as we fail to learn our lessons, that we can never get away from the cycle until the day we achieve enlightenment.
Wow. Okay. That brings the whole “sins of our fathers” concept to a whole new level of crazy.
I don’t know if I believe it or not. Color me agnostic.
What I do know is the trope of families reenacting the same dramas over and over again, of families beloved by tragedy, of families who can’t seem to get on HEA train, so on and so forth.
My family, both sides, fall into that trope.
My mother’s side is exhibit A of “what not to do” in terms of marriage. My grandfather abandoned my grandmother early on, after getting five children on her, and proceeded to spend the rest of his life with various “secretaries” and mistresses and “housekeepers”. My eldest aunt married someone who gives her stomach ulcers and they seem to lead mostly parallel lives. My mother seemed to have an okay marriage, up until the point where my father really went off the deep end with his midlife crisis, and it’s now kinda at the point where much as I love my father, I think it might almost be best if they divorced. My third aunt married a man who pursued her relentlessly, thinking that he would be good to her, and he was frolicking with another woman while she was bedridden with their children. Then she had a sequence of boyfriends, none of whom worked out, and now she’s with a man who doesn’t really make her truly happy. I don’t know much about my little aunt’s love life, but she and her husband mostly seem happy with each other. Then again, they both work more than sixty hours a week, so god knows when they would have time to get on each other’s nerves. Then there’s my uncle. His wife left him for another man, came back because she (no joke) had lupus and was on the verge of dying, and he succumbed to the blandishments of another woman while she was gone/recuperating, and now the two of them seem perpetually caught in some twisted kind of limbo where he apparently still hangs out with his mistress and yet is still married to his wife and lives in the same house as hwe.
My father’s side…
Welp, there’s my fourth uncle, who probably drove his wife to religion (devout, devout Buddhist) because, dude, that man can be a pill (said by his own brother). Loud, abrasive, judgmental, impatient — yeah, it runs in the blood. Good man, despite all that, but just not the easiest person to be married to.
There’s my aunt, the eldest in their family, with five boys trailing after her, who caught her husband cheating with a woman in their bed. She’s who I think of when I think that it does a woman no good to be all blade and no sheath. A lovely woman, generous to a fault, and active in the community, but… I suppose her husband tired of her being a fishwife, deserving of it or not.
If my father’s recollections of his parents’ relationship can be believed, his mother was an endless nag and his father long-suffering and their fights legion and legendary. If he can believed, his father went to his grave complaining about what his wife had kept him from achieving.
Then there’s all of their friends and relatives. I don’t think I know of a single happy marriage in any of my grandmother’s circle of friends and I can’t think of any happy marriages in my parents’ generation either.
Then there’s my generation, with my cousin and his wife who is at best indifferent towards his family and my other cousin whose wife loathes his family and then there’s me. We don’t seem to be doing so hot either. Before you ask, there’s a lot of drama going on with the daughter in laws. It’s not so simple as saying “fuck it” and leaving it alone except for holidays.
So let’s not talk metaphysics and quackery. Let’s talk about environment and learned behavior. Let’s talk about role models and expectations and failed expectations. Let’s talk about the society they grew up in and the world we grew up in and whether or not we take on their broken dreams through osmosis.
In a way, it’s not about just me. Of course I want a happy ending for myself. Despite my airy words and casual gestures, of course I want it all.
But it isn’t just for me.
I want something better, something more lovely for my children if I have any. I want them to be happy, to be secure in a world where they know that their parents love each other and them and would do anything within their means to cradle their family in safety and love for as long as they reasonably can.
I’m not talking helicopter parenting. I mean that bone-deep assurance of being loved, of knowing that you are loved for you, that there is someone waiting to catch you if you should fall. I mean the knowledge that there is possibility of a HEA out there for you, that it can be done, that not every marriage and relationship has to end in bitter acrimony.
Sure, I know there’s the lottery winners, but in the same way that people often don’t believe that what tragedies that touch other people will descend upon them, it’s hard to believe in fairy tales when everyone you know intimately says otherwise.
It’s not so much a happy ending for me. I think I could live without the traditional happy ending. I could probably get over it and deal, eventually. I just don’t want this for anyone after us. If our family doesn’t know how to be happy, if our family can’t figure it out, isn’t it in a way better to just cut everything short?
I just don’t know.