It was one of those fights that you have to walk away from or it would never end. For 40 minutes, my husband and I faced off across the two couches in our therapist’s office. Glaring at each other. Furious.
“No matter what I do, it’s never enough for you!” I snarled at him.
“If you think that’s what I’m saying, you’re not hearing me!” he shot back.
“He’s right. You’re really not hearing him,” our therapist agreed. I switched my glare over to this traitor who was blatantly taking my husband’s side. How could she? I mean, what kind of lame therapist does that?!
I was still loudly protesting about this, when she glanced over at the clock and cut me off. “These are some important issues. But we’ll have to continue next week.”
And suddenly, my husband and I found ourselves outside on the sidewalk in the bright California sunshine, still boiling with rage.
“Do you want to go have dinner?” he asked. This was our usual post-therapy routine. But I didn’t want to have dinner. I couldn’t sit in a restaurant with him right now. In fact, I couldn’t be within 20 feet of him right now.
“I’m going for a walk,” I told him and marched off in the opposite direction. I had no idea where I was going, but long story short, I ended up wandering into a noisy wine bar.
“How’s your day going?” the bartender asked.
“Pretty terrible,” I said. He smiled sympathetically and filled my glass of Sauvignon Blanc up to the very top.
I drank that glass. And another. And then it hit me. I never thought I would do this. I never thought I would be that woman drinking alone in a bar on a Monday night. But here I am. That thought seemed to open a door and let in a flood of other things that my younger self was absolutely positive that I would never do:
1. Leave the house without showering. Ha! Welcome to motherhood.
2. Hardly ever wear make-up. No time. I don’t work in an office anymore, and I don’t do mascara for Mommy & Me.
3. Struggle to lose 10 pounds. Yes, I was that horrible 20-something girl who never had to diet. I said things like “You can eat anything you want as long as you exercise.” May I be forgiven.
4. Depend on someone else financially. I am deeply grateful that my husband’s career allows me to work part-time and spend half of my day with my daughter. So, why does it still feel like financial failure? My 25-year-old self would be stunned that I don’t make the exact same salary as my partner.
6. Get angry at a two-year-old. I know. Before you actually have kids, they seem like these exquisite little angels. How could you not be infinitely patient, kind, and loving with them? I had no clue.
7. Watch “The Vampire Diaries.” What? TV can be like mental rest? And I will need that on a daily basis? Get out!
8. Change careers. Once. Twice. Three times! I’m still getting my head around this one. I thought there would be a path. I thought it would be linear. I thought I would go forward, year by year, not sideways and diagonally and across and where the f*ck am I going?
9. Consider only having one child. Don’t laugh, but I wanted to be the Glass family in “Franny and Zooey.” I wanted a houseful, a soccer team, a tribe. Now, I seriously wonder if I could handle a newborn and a 3-year-old at the same time.
10. Fight with my husband. Not a cute fight. Not a romantic comedy fight where you get to have extra hot make-up sex afterward. But a toxic, heart-ripping, edge-of-the-cliff fight where you don’t know how you will find your way back to each other. But somehow, for over 10 years, we always do.
I finished my third glass of wine and got in a taxi. I rode home to my family. My two-year-old who was refusing to go to sleep. And my husband. The man I love so much, even when I’m really not hearing him. My younger self could never have imagined someone like him, a man who sticks by me, who fights and struggles, but never gives up on us. I guess she has a few things to be proud of.