Love is really wonderful if you think about it.

Thorough and fulfilling in all of it's madness, it takes us through all emotions and experiences, whether we like it or not, and does not censor anything. Though we get to choose to play as serious or as casual a role as we like, we still face impending realities and so, we learn innumerable lessons along the way. Maybe it's the lack of control over something we try so hard to control that appeals to us; or even just the thrill of testing your limits with someone. Whatever the drive, we have in us a deep desire to engage in creating little worlds within our big worlds, with one other person, no matter the cost. When we get moving, we find that what should be a very simple journey from Beginning to Middle to Life becomes a very difficult and testing, yet deeply rewarding time of our lives as humans interacting with other humans.

The journey I speak of is not a set series of events we may all recall and relate to in those exact terms, but I do believe that all of our experiences in our time of getting to know the ones we love can be categorized by those three checkpoints. The Beginning is absolutely fascinating; dreamy and mystical, exciting and unplanned, full of surprises and satisfaction. Though still very exciting, an eye-opening Middle follows shortly after, blushing with opportunity and possibility as you learn lessons and mold yourself to fit this new idol of yours. And then comes the stateline of Middle and Life. It's like crossing the border from Ohio back into Michigan and you can hear the road beneath you turn into something completely different, though you're still in the same car with the same person, and (confirmed by that quick look back) still on the same highway. Life is just, well, Life. Not-so-sweet surprises around every corner, more lessons, lots of them.. more work than you imagined love should be.

This is where we get comfortable; the Life stage. We get so tired of actively listening and learning that we may possibly adopt the Magic Eight Ball method of dealing with our partner. We wake up, shake our cumulative feelings and experiences into our reality and decide, "today, outlook doesn't look so good. I just want to take a day off from partnership," or, "without a doubt, I am feeling like working hard to please my partner!" We are able to retrieve memories and feel great about them or let them bring us down to the ground. We may take our partner for granted, thinking they'll always be here, and just go into hiding for the day, hanging the "ask again later" sign on our door. Life makes us comfortable, but if we are not careful, comfort can steal the joy right out from under us.

Before I appear to be heading down a very negative track, let's do this right and begin back at stages one and two, only this time I'll give some examples of why each stage carries certain characteristics.

We have established, whether in this post so far or in our own lives, that the Beginning just plain rocks. We have the ability to be disgustingly perfect people, quite simply because we are new people to one another and so, we have yet to do anything wrong. Everything is for the other. Compassion is oozing out of us. We can do no wrong.

The jump from the Beginning to the Middle is blurry. You easily toggle between puppy love and playing house. The lack of actual commitment makes it easy to remain independent, while still being completely attached to one another. You can go out to meet the parents, hold hands and giggle over childhood memories, go home and watch a movie, and be left with the option to sleep in your bed or theirs. You go out for breakfast, canoodle over coffee, and have the option to stay in for dinner and do dishes together, just for fun. Buying home goods is a trial period; almost like a test run to see what kind of sheets she wants or what kind of orange juice he likes. By this point in your relationship you are getting looks at Meijer because, let's be honest; no real couple is actually out buying handtowels at 2:00am, smelling like red wine and giggling over sleeping in tomorrow morning. You are being hated all over. Middle people are the worst.

But the joy is soon to hit that bump in the road. Life is fast approaching along your dizzy lovedrunk joyride, and Border Patrol eagerly awaits your blind advancement to the second and final starting line; complete with mirrored shades and a nightstick just itching to pop some sense into the clueless couple.

Life may be the third and final stage of the itinerary listed above, but is really the beginning of a whole new journey. You are done with the gaga faces and googoo kisses. You are beyond the introduction to a person's darker side. You are now in for the "long haul" and with every minute you spend, your pull is that much stronger to the other person. Becoming one person is just as difficult as separating siamese twins. It is tedious, time-consuming, and often takes many, many procedures to be (hopefully) successful.

In short, the Beginning and Middle are so easy compared to Life because they do not require work to be successful.

When I look at Thomas and I, I give our journey the name "Begiddlife" because it happened just. like. that. I often review the lovey dovey Beginning times with Thomas, and when I say review I mean whining, complaining, kicking and screaming for them to return. We became a couple fast, and we had Eli really fast. For everyone that knows us, it is no surprise that we have made a life together through some extremely difficult times. Most married people, and people that have just known one another for years, have had troubles in our place in life; here we are attempting to conquer it in a fraction of the time. It is beyond challenging. It is the kind of work you invest your whole life in.

Though I miss the Beginning, and still see some glimpses of the Middle, I have accepted that we are very much in the Life stage of our relationship. Border Patrol had some mercy on us and even came to the Baby Shower, bringing us the gift of many friends and family to support us during the transition. We found a strength in one another during the most trying time of a couple's life: bringing forth another life. Watching me change from one person into a whole new physical person must have scared the shit out of Thomas. For many reasons, but mostly because I acquired an additional 50% of my body weight in the span of a college football season. Coming out of that and into Parenthood, we learned even more about one another. I found a soft side of Thomas, far beyond what I was already in love with. I also found a very stubborn side of Thomas; I won't even tell you the arguments we had over breastmilk, and how it's spoiled because it doesn't smell like cow's milk. I'll just say there were many tears and some mutters of "liquid gold."

The days that I love, now; the days that really tug at my heartstrings are the ones where I have a Beginning feeling from a Life experience. See, I'm learning that this is the gift you receive when you make it to that border; that point of no return. When you can find a early-relationship-blissful-feeling in a Life moment, a moment that is normally very predictable and even downright mundane, you have hit the jackpot. The first one that comes to mind is the look on Thomas' face when he gets home from work and Eli wobbles down the hall to see him. He smiles at his son like he used to smile at me. Shortly after they hug and giggle, I am surprised by a tender touch, a kiss on the cheek and a "hey babe~how was your day?" Not nearly as romantic as the Beginning, but oh-so cherished after a long day of missing him. (yes, I still miss Thomas minute to minute.. I'll give you a moment to gag..)

Another moment that I hold onto is each time he wants to push Eli's stroller. This is something I'm learning about Asian men; it's not that he wants to be chivalrous, though he is a very considerate man. But rather, he wants to make sure that he is in control and we are all safe. He used to carry my bag from the car to the door, and then open the door, still. Now it rolls over into the care of our son. Though this act of kindness and gentleness is not directly for me, it is for all of us in the matter of him being in control of his family and their well-being. And maybe it's not an Asian male thing to be in control of the baby carriage, but it's an observation I've made from this new perspective. The point is, I'm seeing his personal shift from Beginning to Middle to Life, and though it's difficult, (I'm far from gracious each time I hit this opportunity to learn) I'm devoted to learning as much as I can about it.

Though I often look back at that border, I know that the valve only works one way. To return to those early moments would bring back long kisses in the rain, dinners without interruption, cuddling in the afternoon and falling asleep to "our" playlist each night. It would also mean that we don't have Eli. It would take away those little moments where I see what kind of father Thomas was blessed to be. I would never know the depths of his devotion to the ones he loves.

Looking back to those early moments is bittersweet, but well worth the test to my tastebuds. Before us lies a long road full of many opportunities and blessings to be received. All along the way, all I know is that I want to feel his presence and devotion to me and Eli. It's not where we live, or what color our drapes are, or who we mingle with, or anything that can be measured by a stranger. I just want the three of us to remain together, living and learning and loving along this journey through Life.

Despite the work...

Giving up that "comfort" of living in the Life stage is what is going to be difficult. Turning my Magic Eight Ball on it's upside for good is where the true work begins. To wake up every morning and have the same decision for the day; that is where the growth happens.

If I could flip the comfort of the Magic Ball of Life and keep only one single fortune, one single decision for my future with my boys it would be "yes--definitely."
Yes--definitely, I will remain devoted to you both; I will love you unconditionally; I will hold you dear in my heart and appreciate your presence; I will work through anything and everything; I will not let you go.
Yes--definitely I miss our Beginning, but I will learn from our Life experiences.
Yes--definitely I will surely stumble, but I will still cherish this time together.
Yes--definitely I am certain that where you are is where my heart is meant to be.

It's like you come back to a new Beginning. Through all of the stages, and all of the moments, when you can still proclaim that this person is who makes your heart tick, you have hit big. It may not look like it did the first time, but you have the chance to start fresh. There is a foundation of Life underneath your feet and you get a better grip on this ground. You can handle the tremors and dig out of the quicksand. Given the breather before I start here and roll up my sleeves and move forward; I ask myself, am I sure I'm ready for this?


Popular posts from this blog

In with the old

a white flag moment

looking back