The familiar things return. I didn’t think they would, but what experience had I had to make such an assessment? My marital problems were never met on the doorstep of a Better Homes and Gardens english-style tutor in a comfortable den in a Pottery Barn armchair with perfectly tossed throw pillows scattered just so. Mom didn’t bake fresh cookies, nor did she comfort my forlorn demeanor.
I remember the first time I showed up on Mom’s doorstep, which was actually the steel-lined front door of her dancing school, but that’s another story. Jackson and I had been married five years. “I’m not happy anymore,” I told her. “He doesn’t make me happy.”
Mom looked at me with a stern face that had fallen for only a brief moment before regaining posture. “He’s not supposed to make you happy. Marriage will never make you happy.”
That was that.
I would like to think I inherited some of Mom’s tough love. I have devoted the past nearly fifteen years of my life to my girls while paying heed to the art of letting go. Perfectly executed, this would come out as a parenting win, but I’m human and so I have failed much of the time, much like Mom.
My own identity was somewhat lost as I sacrificed while Jackson’s career boomed. It was what we had to do in the beginning. I stayed at home with the children whom I birthed three times in five years. Life happened in a succession of events I could hardly keep track of. I ran marathon distances and struggled with eating disorders. My sense of having no control over my own life ran me into the ground. But I was doing both what my society had told me I should be doing, as well as what my rebellion against Mom’s very hands-off parenting-style had encouraged me to pursue.
That said, I don’t regret a moment of it. Regret is the crutch that keeps us from living, and coupled with guilt, it’s powerful enough to halt our trajectory.
Jackson and I survived year five…then seven…ten…barely fifteen. In exactly one month from today, we will celebrate year seventeen. For us, it will be the Anniversary of Gratitude.
Divorce was a word I had thrown around quite carelessly, and why not? Insomuch as I had given up myself to take care of our family, Jackson had grown into himself quite nicely. And I don’t hate him for it. He’s a hard-worker, and thus a good provider. He’s a self-made man, which I admire. I just grew weary, I suppose; time was moving faster than I could both nourish myself as a mother and honor myself as a woman.
I’m working on a piece about a baby boy who saved a marriage. God ever-present; God ever-loving; and God, was I mad at Him!
I reordered a rosary after having lost mine. That floral collection of pastel polymer beads chained in a series of the Our Father and ten Hail Mary’s, had carried me through darkness and back into light; it carried me through a still and quiet pregnancy in a small, somewhat secluded town on the South side of Nashville, a missing kidney, and a sudden repeat c-section. My guess is that I lost it somewhere between the delivery room and moving back home to Pollyanna five months later.
Sometimes, faith can get the best of me, but it (most of the time) stops me short of acting without good conscious. There are times when I weep and wail, asking God all of my Whys? I know by now that God doesn’t have to answer me. If my faith is only but a mustard seed, it’s more than what God needs to work with. He’s freaking God, for crying out loud!
Still, there are times when God must say from a golden throne in the sky amongst the white tufts of clouds, “You need a sign? Here’s one, you hard-headed creation of mine!” And in those moments, He rushes in and fills every cell in my body with renewed life. The collection of all of those moments are my own small miracles to claim.
Baby Joseph weaved himself into our life before his conception as a manifestation of our then preschool daughter’s prayers…an unexpected pregnancy…his single kidney…St. Benedict of Nursa. Jackson working two years on a promotion he didn’t receive. Twelve weeks of paternity leave that saved his life after he had nearly burned himself out beyond repair. A reunion of a father and his daughters. The birth of a son. A love that subtly began to remember all the familiar things.
This blog has served me well. It’s become a dumping ground of sorts: a collection of narratives that deserve another look and heavy editing. As I reach out beyond this small corner of the universe I claim for myself—here in Pollyanna in middle Tennessee on planet Earth—I will keep Rose-Colored Lenses as my anchor, my mothership.
C.Brownlee, Writer, Space Force, 2018
the Art of Storytelling
the Book of Empathy