Freeing Someone Else.

When I wrote last week’s post about the negative stories we’re being told about marriage, it was not because I believed every word of it, or that I thought we were doomed for a lifetime of misery (Me? Not stubbornly think I (now we) can do it our own way? Ha!) No, it was because I’ve started a careful practice of listening to what I hear said about married life. I’ve been trying to listen to the ways people use the word wife in casual conversation, for example (not recommended for the faint of heart), or the way people talk about partnership, or parenting. While I’ve been flat out freaked by the stories we tell and automatic responses we give about adult life, I’ve also been really humbled by the power of positive examples.

This weekend David and I ran into a friend that we’ve known for… ever… She’s always been a firecracker and a leetle bit of a troublemaker and she has recently added mother-of-two-that-I-would-most-like-to-emulate to her resume. As I snuggled her five month old son (I rank among the top 1% in the world for enjoyment of ‘ickels – see wedding pictures for proof), I chatted with her about the doom-and-gloom parenting talk we’d been hearing lately. And she looked me in the eye and then looked at David and said, “Nonsense. Having kids is wonderful. And the only thing I can’t do now that I could do then is go to Europe on a whim. Now we plan to go to Europe.” (And they did too. For two whole months with a two year old.)

And just like that, the future opened up again. If they could be both unconventional and fantastic parents, so could we. I’m also a firecracker and a lettle bit of a troublemaker with a knack for the ‘ickels.

So. In these last pithy posts of 2009, and I wanted to honor the importance of sharing our stories, wedding stories, marriage stories, strong-lady stories, and so funny I can’t stop telling them stories (see Lauren’s comment about the bladder surgery here). It takes guts to tell your story to and audience this big, and I am in awe of those of you who are willing to go down deep here, and say honest and sometimes painful truths, and to tell stories of the moments when you were really nuts.

Toni Morrison has a quote that says, “The function of freedom is to free someone else,” and that is what you are doing when you say what’s hard to say out loud. You make someone who’s really in the midst of it, free.

And with that, next up, we’ll close out the pithy part of the year with Marie-Eve talking about parenting and marriage, all bound up together, and telling us why it will be wonderful. Next…

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  • Nic

    Marriage definitely gets a bad rap, like it's all downhill from there. Today I was writing to someone I don't know well and hesitated before using the word "husband" to refer to my dearly beloved. I figured they would think I'm an old foogey, and almost wished for a second I could go back to the youthful 'fiancee' or even 'boyfriend'! I'm 24 people. Don't judge me for having a husband.

  • Cate Subrosa

    Marie-Eve! Excellent, looking forward to that :)

  • @Anon. Clearly children are worth all sorts of physical and emotional trauma or people wouldn't have them. I wasn't making an example of my aunt, who is a wonderful mother and told the bladder story with a strong dose of humor. I was making an example of myself, a young newlywed, being told that kids are worth peeing yourself for eight years. As someone who has no intention of getting pregnant or having children, and who gets a lot of "don't worry, you'll change your mind", I thought that was funny. That's all.

  • I was just telling my brother the other day that how my (now divorced) parents portrayed marriage was just wrong. They made it seem so hard, maybe because they were married to the wrong person.

  • Jo

    This is why I blog. And this is why I love your blog. Because you free people.

  • i have been hearing negative talk about marriage/wives practically my whole life. i see negative images portrayed on tv and in movies. it made me wary of marriage for a very very long time. then i met my now-husband and that slowly started to change. we had several conversations about what a lifetime commitment looked like to us. how we wanted it to be. and it didn't hurt that i have two girlfriends with exemplary marriages where they are still their feisty, strong independent selves who have partners that support them wholeheartedly and whom they support wholeheartedly. and that gave me hope and the courage to get married. it's only been a little over a month but i have to agree with you, meg. before marriage i considered myself to be a grounded, confident person, but somehow marriage has given me a boost and i feel more rooted, more confident, immensely happy and like i can take on anything. i didn't expect to feel different after i got married, but i feel it in my spirit, this commitment that we made before our loved ones with the universe witnessing and blessing us. and i feel it. and it's pretty freaking awesome.