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Comparing Notes

(At a hole-in-the-wall-diner, Thanksgiving weekend)

David: Every time I tell older men I just got married, they shake their head.

Me: Really?

David: Yeah. And then they say, “biggest mistake of your life.”

Me: WHAT? Oh my god, no they don’t.

David: Yeah. They all do. It’s really awkward.

Me: That’s crazy.

(pause)

Me: You know, women always tell me, “Oh my god, that’s so wonderful, you must be so happy.” and then they pause and tell me, “Just wait till you have kids. They’ll ruin your life, you’ll have no time, you’ll be exhausted, you won’t really have a relationship with your husband anymore, you’ll be totally isolated from the rest of the world.” and then Isweartogod, in the next breath they ask me when we’re having kids.

David: Then they ask you when we’re having kids?

Me: YEAH! At that point I’m so frozen with confusion I have no idea what to say.

David: Weird. No one says that to me.

Me: The strangest part is half the time it’s from people who know better. Sometimes I think they are not even aware of what they’re saying.

David: I love that no one said anything like this before the wedding.

Me: It’s like they are trying to initiate us into a club of depressives.

I’ve been rolling this conversation around in my head the past few weeks, trying to make a wry, mildly amusing post out of it, and I couldn’t get anything to click. Then the other night, when talking to Marie-Eve (more from her to come) I realized why: nothing about this conversation was actually funny. I haven’t quite sorted out what is going on, or why, and why different equally disheartening but totally different things are being said to each of us, but I do know that it’s not funny. I think a lot about cultural self-fulfilling prophecies these days, and about how if we’re told to expect something (over and over and over) it becomes hard not to buy into it, and hard not to live it out in our own lives. So I worry. About what I’m being told, about what David’s being told, about the stories that we’re telling ourselves and each other*. And I’m thinking a lot.

(and to keep you from feeling too glum – before the conversation continues – go read Cate’s poetic and moving post about becoming a mother. That girl gets it right, every single time)

*And let me clarify: there is a difference in our lives from the stories that we’re being told and the examples being set. Our parents both celebrate wedding anniversaries this month, and lets just say, both sets have been happily married a good long time. But words have power. And the words we’re hearing from all sides bother me.

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