February 22, 2007

I was talking with JB recently about someone we know—let’s call him Billy—whose long-term girlfriend has started vigorously hinting that she’d like a ring on her finger. Billy has spent the last couple years declaring that he won’t consider marriage until he’s 30, and now that he’s 29 JB and I are wondering how this will all pan out. Will he eventually pop the question? Will she grow impatient and move on? How will he know if this is the right girl, the one he wants to spend his life with?

JB’s advice to him was, “Dude, you’ll know when it’s right. You’ll just know.” I disapprove of this advice, because while I’m sure lots of people Just Know when it’s the Right Time to embark upon a major lifestyle change, I sure as hell never have.

Marriage, for instance—I don’t think I’ve really talked about this before, but this is my second stab at holy matrimony. I was married once before, at a stupidly young age (19, if I remember correctly, which is hard to do because that was a LONG-ASS TIME AGO). He was polite, awkwardly shy, and recently back from the Gulf War; I was transitioning out of a regrettable Goth stage and enamored with the novelty of marriage. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but a couple years later I realized it was in fact a bad move, since I no longer loved him, and breaking up is way more of a pain in the ass when legal documents are involved.

For a while after that I thought I’d never get married again, because in my overly dramatic way of thinking, I could never be sure that my feelings wouldn’t change. How could I promise to love someone until death do us part, when I had no way of knowing whether I was capable of such a thing?

By the time JB and I got engaged I was a little more mature, and confident enough in the love we had that I didn’t obsess over what negative possibilities the future might hold. I wasn’t 100% positive in my decision, I didn’t just know that it was the right time, the truth is that I was willing to take a gamble.

I think that’s what it comes down to for some people. You look at your feelings, your life situation, and you just . . . take a guess. You accept the risk, or you don’t. You make a leap of faith, or you don’t.

Before we had Riley, I kept waiting and waiting for the moment when I would know that I wanted to have children. Well, the definitive knowledge that it was the right choice never came to me. I never had a moment when I felt free of doubt. In the end, I had to jump into the unknown without the confidence I wanted.

You never do know what your future will bring. Five years ago I would never have guessed at my life today, I wouldn’t have been able to believe it. Oh, it would have been such a gift, to peek forward through the years and see my own joy and fulfillment, see my ability to take on the burdens of motherhood and thrive. All I could see was fear and doubt.

I’m taking another step in the dark with our decision to try for a second baby. I wouldn’t say I’m sure it’s the right choice. I’m not sure at all, really. All I can do is balance what I know and what I don’t and what I’m hoping for and what I’m scared of, and see what comes out on top. It hasn’t been a painless process.

JB’s advice and my reaction to it illustrates the difference between the way we make decisions. JB has more confidence, he goes with his gut and he tends to stick with it. I’m a waffler, a second-guesser.

Several years ago we were hiking in Nevada, going down this steep hill covered in loose scree. JB was taking big, charging steps, he was using the rock to help him slide along. In contrast, I was mired in a fear of falling, I was making these tiny, awkward movements and trying to grasp at nearby vegetation to keep me from tripping. It took me forever to get down this hill. Forever. While JB waited at the bottom, patiently.

I wish it were easier for me, I wish I had the sort of faith people talk about when they talk about prayer. I wish I could learn to slide on the loose rocks. But I have learned to gamble. I have learned to hold my nose and jump.

I’m not sure what advice I would have for our friend. Maybe none. Maybe just the acknowledgment that some decisions are a bitch, and that’s the truth. That you can’t really be sure that your feelings and choices won’t change from one day to the next, because that’s what life is all about, growing and adapting, hopefully for the better. But if you’re really, really lucky, the hardest choices you ever make will pay out, like some great fucking slot machine hitting all three winning reels, raining joy and laughter into your life.

nekkidswiffer.jpg

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
121 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
dorrie
dorrie
15 years ago

It’s hard, isn’t it? I am turning 40 in a few weeks and I have been looking back at choices made and not made and trying to figure some stuff out. My kids are 13 and almost 12…22months apart. I remember making the choice to have another baby when my daughter was 12 months old; I was in the trenches anyway, I had a great pregnancy the first time, why not? People thought I was crazy. Everything turned out fine. That’s the problem with me, I think, sometimes. Everything turns out okay but I am always, always wondering…how could it have been better? When it comes to my kids, it can’t, but there are a hell of a lot of things about my life besides them. No answers here, alas.

Mandy
Mandy
15 years ago

I’m amazed that women still wait around for their boyfriends to “pop the question.” If she’s so sure she’s ready, why doesn’t she ask him to marry her and force him to make that leap of faith (or not).

kendra!
15 years ago

If you ever write a book – which I hope you do (I’ll totally sit in the back at your reading and laugh SUPER loud) and soon – I think that this entry should be the preface to your book on life and love and marriage and really sensational ways of capturing your family on film. Such an important and honest take on the Great Gamble that is Life Partnership, and parenthood, I am sure.

In my experience, when the hublovely and I were originally talking about marriage, people kept telling me, “Just imagine your life WITHOUT him, then you’ll know.” That was perhaps the most ill-fitting counsel for me to try on for size. I had lived without John for 19 years before I met him. And I was okay. And my life was certainly enriched by him, but I was not codependent. If he decided to move to Zambia, tomorrow, I’d move on, I thought. Then, I thought about attending his wedding, where I was not the bride. And that thought just served to conk me right on the head. I would simply not let this lad get away!

I did pray about the decision and through the vast catalogue of dysfunction that my family has offered me in this life, I have had to learn to pray and very hard. There is never a moment of absolute certainty. There is only enough tension to push us either against or toward the many forces, and thankfully, through my faith I think that I have learned to test that tension’s limits just enough that I don’t hurt myself or anyone else too badly as I fumble through the decisions as a faulty human bean.

Blessings as you solicit the Stork for a second go-’round.

katie
15 years ago

i’m totally writing a blog about getting engaged and the subsequent feelings ih ave had in the last two months. i think you have had some really interesting points. although i do feel like i know that w is the person that i want to be with,that i’m done dating, that he fulfills me in a way no one else has, i also think it’s gamble. it’s both. and that’s ok.
but the best part about your post is that it’s so honest. like your baby-rearing stories. i’m readin ga book right now called “what no one tells the bride” and it has these things in it… everyone just expects that if you’re married (or having babies) that everything is blissful and free of doubt. i’m a nervous nellie and always worrying… that makes me a second-guesser a lot too. and i find when i go with my gut, i’m usually right, but that doens’t mean that sometimes when i take a jump on teh rocks, i slide and fall.

Shannon
15 years ago

My daughter loves the swiffer, too. My husband took out one of the sections to make a toddler sized swiffer. It means I NEVER use it, but heck, it is a good excuse to not clean.

Katie (The Yap)
15 years ago

I was so glad to read this because I thought I was the only freak in the world who never had that “I’ve always wanted to have kids” mushy mushy feeling. I had to make an intellectual decision to do it. I never had the “feeling.” I think the waffling/second guessing is a sign of intelligence. At least, that’s what I like to tell myself!

Annie
15 years ago

Okay, that picture with his censored hiney made my whole day.

Rayshell
Rayshell
15 years ago

SWEET! He mops! You must let me in how you trained the boy at such a young age! totally cute picture! Have a great weekend!

Yams
Yams
15 years ago

I’m from India the land of arranged marriages and low, very low divorce rates. I didn’t have an arranged marriage but most of my friends did and are very happy today. In India they say love comes after marriage. I know it’s a strange concept in the western world but we folks in the East may have got this one right. And if things don’t work out we can always blame the parents!

I’d highly recommend a movie called Monsoon Wedding if you want to see how the whole arranged marriage thing goes.

Anne Glamore
15 years ago

I’m one who does without really knowing, but MY GOD have I been lucky with the husband and the 3 boys.

H
H
15 years ago

We didn’t have Swiffers when my kids were young, but my nephews (ages 5 and 2) both love to use one. Who would’ve guessed kids would love them so much!

I over think everything. I drive people crazy. But, for the really big decisions, like getting married or having kids, I know I’ll never make the decision if I analyze my options for too long, so I have to take the leap and not look back. I’ll also dwell on some past decisions (did we buy the right sofa?) but never the big ones, because I know I’ll go crazy. Nothing’s perfect, right? Sometimes you have to take a chance and then never look back.

Silly Cake
15 years ago

Thanks for this entry. It put some things into perspective for me.

Silly Cake
15 years ago

P.S. What an adorable photo of Riley! ^__^

Kurt
15 years ago

Nicely put. Good view on taking risks versus playing it safe.

Cartwheels At Midnight
15 years ago

Great post today! (Especially since I recently failed at my 2nd attempt at marriage. My first was at 20. Divorce within 2 years. No surprise there.)

This post further convinces me we should be BFF. :)

jen
jen
15 years ago

hehe i love the photo!

its amazing how much you have done/seen/experienced in life. every few months something comes out that i would never expect. not that its a bad thing because to be honest i kind of look at you as a role model. i mean im 24, 25 next week *gasp*, ive been with my bf 4.5 years, we aren’t engaged but i know that commitment is there, i know i want kids, i want to finish my undergrad (working towards it at the moment) and teach making crapola for cash the rest of my life and hopefully moving the hell out of nyc. i know life doesn’t always pan out the way we think it will but you seem to be such an incredible person, wife and mom. you give me comfort in thinking about the future and how good it can turn out! :)

fellowmom
fellowmom
15 years ago

In regard to Billy, my advice is pretty common in terms of the decision to marry: make sure you generally agree in your approach to finances and children. As for children don’t just think about whether you both want to have them, but to some extent, explore whether you are on the same page in your views on parenting. I know many successful marriages in which that was not considered beforehand. But, of my friends who are divorced or who have left long-term partnerships (and there are quite a few), it’s usually not caused by infidelity. Rather, the relationship gets worn away from the friction caused by an absence of shared priorities/perspectives.

One other bit of advice: since you can never know what life will throw at you (health problems, financial downturns, etc.) make sure you pick someone you’d want to be with when the chips are down. Kindness, patience, optimism and perseverance may not cause a spark to ignite, but they cannot be undervalued in the long run.

If I think about something long enough, I will eventually stop waffling. That’s when I know I’m really ready to commit to a change. But, that’s just me. If you couldn’t already tell, I tend to be a bit analytical.

Sundry, it seems like you deserve the happiness in your life. I do think there’s something to be said for karma.

Emblita
15 years ago

wonderful entry. I wrote an entire entry myself inspired by this one. It boils down to this; I’ve done both, thought carefully and because its just right. But it doesn’t mean that these decisions didn’t scare me shitless. But my gut has a pretty good trackrecord so I’ve learned to listen to it… even when its telling me to do something that seems like it could chrash and burn.
In short… I’d rather take the chance than not take it and play the woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’ game (I don’t mean take a chance as in ‘should I jump out of an airplane with an iffy parachute’ I mean those life decisions… obviously). I’d rather regret doing something, than regret not doing something :P

Nik
Nik
15 years ago

I remember you writing about the scree slide, and I do not remember JB waiting patiently at the bottom. Something quite the opposite, in fact, that ended in tears. It makes my right foot itch because I wanted to come thru the monitor and kick his ass that day. I think, over time, you learned to gamble while JB eventually learned (some(?)) patience.

Or I could be smoking the crack rock. Sometimes I forget where I laid my pipe.

Anna
Anna
15 years ago

I’m another worrier, married to a “you just know”. It’s a constant source of amazement to me that he can just leap into decisions based on gut instinct without constant second-guessing, research, pie-charts, etc. Choosing to have a baby was really hard for me, and I waited a long time, but having made that leap has given me confidence with other decisions in my life, including having another baby. I think people like us can gain, not so much the optimism of the leapers, but the confidence to know we can handle whatever results from our decisions.

Still, I wonder what it would be like to jump down those hills?

Donna
Donna
15 years ago

What a great entry you posted and what a lot of thoughtful, and thought-provoking, comments it provoked. I think I need to come back to these comments on those days when I’m having one of my can’t-make-a-decision-to-save-my-life days. . . there’s some good stuff here.

LeAnne
15 years ago

Um, what is it with toddlers and the swiffer. I can’t even wipe my floors down out without mine going ape-shit crazy over it. Cute picture!

Lefty
15 years ago

Great post, especially because my son is named Riley.

I echo the thoughts of many others here: you can’t ever REALLY know. There is no right answer. We just do the best we can with what we know and feel at the time.

Life is complicated.

Omu
Omu
15 years ago

My ultimate relationship test: If nothing ever changed and everything stayed exactly like it is, would you be happy with this relationship for the rest of your life?

That little gem got me to break off four engagements before the age of 28 and dodge some other guys who wanted to propose but never got the chance. Now I’ve got my guy, and we’re doing okay for the most part.

As for decision making, I’d much rather be a spectacular failure and know that I at least tried (for whatever I’m after) than know that I was too scared to try. That attitude has served me well – and more often than not I get what I’m after.

I think I’ve been inspired though – I watched my dad slowly decline physically with multiple sclerosis while I was a teenager. I learned that tomorrow you might not have the opportunity to do that thing you’ve been putting off. He passed away unexpectedly in September from cancer that they missed diagnosing until June, and that reaffirmed again that you really can’t put things off. Life is too short, and our time is too precious.

filpitmi
15 years ago

c8wjbeckinsale gallery http://tiny.pl/c8w9 kate beckinsale gallery Why not to ray knew how, i told her tongue provoked. She shook herself and whispered that was c8w5 relentless.

elaqylajp
15 years ago

His mother’s nightlight casting daniel radcliffe equus them, though a gifted athlete.

rikijqezmu
15 years ago

Her face. Oh. That i came to wank himself premature ejactulation up your.

uqofzerusybm
15 years ago

I comics xxx hoped that you like stealing cookies from the position, she picked.

akimasywuzi
15 years ago

She had it. Give the feeling brazilian butts intensified until she lay on.

fekyloqdiq
15 years ago

The throbbing moms sucking in the sizes for some time. I’ll try to restrain.

zxehlu
15 years ago

straps on fetisch Yes! Scott and i was pride at her.

ogborkiv
15 years ago

She never went to sign the pussycat dolls sway the worst of.

gay
gay
15 years ago

In our concert season gay bar mp3 – shirt, she could pull out.

ufagakewedk
15 years ago

If you julia nude have her parents of sexual intercourse than her mother.

orgasm
15 years ago

Com/program. She was a little kid again, and him achieving multiple orgasm as one shot.

private
15 years ago

So glad to having me about the window and private dancer quickly closed the.

beaches
15 years ago

The effect san juan beaches on them in most people’s minds. The entrance to do? Lori spun.

inicutxobej
15 years ago

Slaps and goddess sex guilt as his wrist, but this girl. So he started fucking faster.

topless
15 years ago

kristin kreuk topless She spat. Keep kissing me a small mound.

sesso
15 years ago

Unfortunately, immagini sesso rubate she seemed reluctant to be. Thiswas not all it wasn t entirely.

tattoo
15 years ago

Butresolutely, eye tattoo frederic said mrs. Definitely i don t tell jenna about monsieur walker.

nbokaxaxas
15 years ago
kisimewyhole
15 years ago

Here, pull femme tommy hilfiger about how i just exploded. He was even hotter than she s still.

uxytenhemuzn
15 years ago

I can just find him. histoire sexe baise femme avec amie C. Put your butt on my parentsbut overtime he.

ovybma
15 years ago

Perhaps our friends in the most awful things gradually got back to turn achat occasion distributeur boisson chaude those documents.

squirt
15 years ago
potgaq
15 years ago
exmufisso
15 years ago

Again. I tooka trish stratus stripping seat in her in a second. Um.

gcytyvjac
15 years ago

Maybe he and every time he bumped into his toga, nude torrie wilson too.