Monday, March 8, 2010

In Good Times and Bad

I talk to my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders about how each of us has multiple urges to do things that often conflict with each other. In an attempt to simplify the concept for 6, 7, and 8 year-olds, I try to talk about it in terms of one voice that tells us to make choices that bring us up and another voice that tells us to make choices that bring us down.

One of Matt's family members just died, and I almost listened to the voice that was advising me to bring myself down.

You see, I was really looking forward to this weekend. I've had a tremendously stressful week (and year, for that matter), and I was eager to run, walk through the forest, get ahead on my work, do yoga, read, cook good food, finish my chores--you know--get my act together.

As Matt got updates from his family about the situation, I kept asking, "Do you want me to go with you to the funeral?" He kept saying that neither he nor his family thought it was necessary for me to be there.

When I woke up Saturday morning, Matt said he had just booked his flight to Indiana. He needed to leave within the hour. Again, I tried to be a good partner by asking, "Should I go to support you and your family?" He kept insisting that it wasn't necessary.

I almost listened to him. I wanted to listen to him. I wanted to be off the hook. I wanted to make the argument that it's too complicated to find dog care for four days in an hour. I wanted to believe that it was too expensive to spend $1,000 on two last-minute plane tickets. I wanted to think that it was impossible to coordinate a substitute for my class for two days of missed instruction.

And then I listened to the voice that urges me to make choices aligned with what I value. I value family and being there for each other and dropping everything to show your love, to provide a shoulder, to hold a hand. Those things are way more important than a relaxing weekend.

These are the commitments we make to our partners and our family members and our friends. I am there for you. I am your person.

Our wedding vows come to mind:

  • Matt, I love you because you make me laugh out loud on a daily basis, like when you come up with alternate names for our dog, Hoss, such as Hoss-tage, Hoss of Pain, or Hoss-car Myer Weiner.
  • I love you because you challenge me to be a better person, like when you made me promise to tell the Penske truck people that we scraped the moving van.
  • I love you because we create adventures together, like Halloween scavenger hunts or road trips out West.
  • I love you because you care so much for other people that you inspire all of us to be more caring. You do things like put toothpaste on my toothbrush and leave it out for me, or come home on the worst day of winter with slippers and a Chia pet herb garden.
  • I love you because I smile every time I wake up to you and when I come home to you. We play together, brainstorm together, create together, read together. Your hand always feels comfortable in mine.

Matt, because I love you, I promise to treat you the way you want to be treated and with the respect you deserve. I promise to build trust with my words and actions. I will be your cheerleader, your nurse, your editor, your therapist, your teacher, your student, and your partner in adventure. I will deeply appreciate all of your positive qualities and not let the passage of time dull that appreciation. When life challenges us, I promise to focus on the resiliency of our love. And if I stumble and fail to live up to my promises, I will look you in the eyes, hold your hands, and apologize with sincerity. I will be my best for you.

Yes, I will be my best for you, Matt, even when I am instinctively selfish and self-centered. I will always try to be my best for you.

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1 comment:

Katie said...

Long before we got engaged, my fiance and I tried to live by the vow "in sickness and in health." Each of us has multiple mental disorders, and not surprisingly, there have been times when those illnesses have threatened our relationship. Coming through each challenge has brought us closer and really cemented in our minds that we're ready for this.

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