Our Story Begins: The Things You’ll Miss
There really are things I miss about being in a relationship or marriage. It may seem odd since I have talked, on more than one occasion, how much work it is to be a parent and a husband.
It’s funny, much like memories will creep on you in the notes from a song you shared or the waft of a scent that blows on the wind . . . the memories of things that you once had are just like those little explosions of grief. You’ll see something in the movies, something totally innocuous and you’ll miss the entire point of the scene because you’re looking at the visual that created your memory instead of listening to the dialogue. Those little, tiny moments simultaneously give you that same warm feeling you had when you were in a relationship and make you ache for the fact you don’t have them any more.
One case in point: I was watching an old Will Ferrell movie last night: Stranger than Fiction. It is all about those little, seemingly innocuous moments, but shares their significance. A particular scene where the two protagonists are on the couch together struck me. It was supposed to be about the fact they were watching old movies on what could possibly be his last night on the planet . . . and she’s stretched out, her legs on his lap. There’s nothing sexual or prurient in the scene at all. But I miss that . . . my wife would lie sideways on our couch and her legs would find their way onto my lap. I never complained. The scene in the film is so perfect because, like is natural when you’re with someone you love, his hands begin to stroke her calf, gently, like it’s second-nature. That likely went unnoticed by the general moviegoing audience. I caught it, though.
More than that, though, I miss the ability to be a little selfish. You may berate me for this, but parenting with a significant other . . . hell, even if you’re divorced and have some sort of custody arrangement, you get the ability to be a little selfish here and there. I realize now that with another parent in the house you can do things for yourself. Sure . . . I get it . . . men have a reputation for being lazy and the least adept parents. They’re wrong, though. I have always been a part of my kids’ lives including cooking meals and going to all their events. That was always hard and it’s even harder now.
But we all like the ability to be a little selfish here and there. Maybe it’s a gig with some old friends if you’re a musician. Maybe it’s a spa day if you’re a Mom. Maybe it’s running a marathon or going to a conference in San Francisco. The most flattering thing in the world is the fact you trust that other person implicitly with your children. I have people I can rely on if I need to do things . . . but it’s not something I can ever do on a whim any more. It’s just not.
Every once in awhile – I have to be honest, it’s not very often – I get one of either two types of “advice.” One is to date, have fun, meet lots of women, go out and “play the field.”
The other, however, is to seek out a relationship, find that perfect person, all that.
I have to be honest, it’s probably the same kind of advice my divorced friends get as well. For some reason there are certain people who think that having a complete life is contingent on someone else. There are others that take the position “you’re free, go out, have as much fun as you can while you can.”
I don’t pretend to think they’re wrong or right. But “free” to do as I want simply isn’t free. Between parenting and then work, writing, recording demos, freelance documentary . . . none of that makes for time. It’s a luxury that I don’t really have, not if I want my kids to grow up thinking they had a good upbringing, and in the end that’s what I want for now. Sure, they see I do things, I write music, I record, I write, I do a lot of things that are simply, truly, and completely mine. They should be that way. It would have to be the right person, the accepting person, who fits that bill. That’s a big ticket to punch.
In the end, the biggest balance is showing my kids that I’m their Dad, but I’m not leaving Dave behind. I still do all those things. I want to finish my record and I am producing a documentary. None of that involves parenting my kids it involves working them around my parenting. In the end my kids end up knowing they’re the most important thing . . . but not the only important thing in my life.
So yes . . . I miss the little, intimate moments. Maybe one day I’ll have those again. But I won’t just chase down the nearest opportunity in order to have those intimate moments. There is, after all, a much bigger picture.