Monday, April 25, 2016

Sparkle

My girlfriend, fresh off of a divorce, sent me this article written by a girl who had found the "man of her dreams". She was so relieved that she hadn't settled for good enough and married the last guy she was dating.  You guys, she didn't just feel a spark when they kissed or saw each other.  They "sparkled" all the time, like, even when eating dinner.  That is true love.  That's what you should be looking for.  I laughed so hard I choked on leftover spaghetti. I may have been eating it out of the container in the kitchen, cold, wearing just my underwear because the kids were in bed and I was starving and half way between wanting a shower and needing food to survive.
Love is an amazing thing. I breath love. I need it to survive. I think I'm pretty good at finding love, falling in love, even staying in love. I can find one redeeming quality in a person and love them passionately for it, foregoing all common sense and red flags they throw at me in droves.  One of my girlfriends recently said to be that she had "accepted the fact that I love often and much." Dude, ouch. Is that me? Yes, ok it's me.  It's like I'm somewhere between Mother Theresa trying to love everyone in the world and some boy-crazy teenager with the sex drive of a newly released convict.  But I digress.  Girl, I want to talk to you about sparkle.
It's easy to be happy when things are good.  You fight over what movie to watch. You're insecure because he didn't introduce you to his friends fast enough at the party. Maybe your ring isn't big enough or your outfits don't match exactly. I don't know.  It's like when my 18 month old plays in the kitchen. Everything he takes out of the pot and stuffs in my mouth (say ahhhh!) tastes delicious. Even when disaster strikes and he drops his whisk, you are quickly back to delicious foods on their way to your mouth. I'm not saying you don't have real problems or you haven't experienced real life yet, but, ok wait, maybe I am.  You have to look at the scale of your life to figure this out.  When you are a teenager, someone wearing your prom dress is the worst thing that can happen to you.  In college, not having money for that spring break trip is a disaster.  After all that sparkles turns out not to be gold and diamonds, then what?
What happens after you have a mortgage and kids?  When you can't sit down and enjoy dinner and look into each other's eyes. When you're too tired for sex or sore after childbirth or you feel ugly with those stretch marks?  Maybe you cleaned up so many dirty diapers today, cleaned every dish in your house, managed to step in cat puke twice, and your head hurts so bad that if someone puts anything that is not chocolate in your mouth you may actually lose your shit.  No, I don't feel sparkly. Get your sweaty hands off of my ass.  Just no.  NO.
Let me tell you about sparkle in your mid 30's with kids.  How about making dinner when we get home.  Cleaning the sippy cups and remembering to take the plastic part out.  Cutting enough apples for everyone's lunches.  Hold the baby or distract him for 10 minutes.  Put on a show for the kids or take them for a walk or to the park so I can eat something, anything without a little hand or mouth on it. Or on me.  Throwing all the toys in the bin and folding the blankets on the couch so I an sit there and watch my favorite show on Netflix.  With a cup of tea. And a shoulder rub.  Start the shower for me and maybe don't get in.  Hand me my towel.  Ask me about my day and listen for 5 minutes and tell me about yours, then let's change the subject and be happy.  Tell me you hate the cat too.  Find a piece of chocolate you hid from the kids.  Talk about all of the things we're grateful for instead of everything that's wrong and let's focus on what we have.
Do you have any idea how hard that is?  If you can manage that twice a week then you are a fucking rockstar. I feel like I should tell you this great secret to relationships: They are not 50/50.  Divorce is 50/50--trust me I know that one first hand several times over.  Relationships are 100/100. Each of you gives 100% of the best that you have and you pray to God that when those 100s meet, everyone has their needs met and can find a way to make themselves happy.  You try your best to see who you are with and give them what they need.  You clean everyone and everyone.  You cook, spend money, find space, and make the effort.  Expect nothing and appreciate everything. Verbally.  Reinforce everything good.  You are doing a good job. You are good enough.  You are worth this effort, all of it. And mean it.  Do not underestimate your three greatest tools: Love, Sincerity, and Honesty.  They run the whole world.
Any man who can step in cat puke twice in one day, see me covered baby slime, be angry at me for leaving his good knife out after I used it, forget to defrost the meat and end up with pizza, be broke/tired/defeated over our fight last night that kept us up and ran into the next day, and STILL want to put his hand on mine and look into my eyes and TRY to smile wins.  He wins all the things.  That's all the damn sparkle I need.