Do you draw a line in the sand of your normal? Do you turn to a blank page with emerging, as yet indistinguishable, words waiting to reveal themselves?
Or, do you glean comfort in the knowledge that days as you have known them for as long as you can remember are lived for the people you make the compromises for?
Relationships need time, effort, and the ability to endure the days that are at best not so glamorous and at worst really tough to get through. I don’t know anyone who would say a relationship once you have a child is easy and I don’t think the towel should be thrown in lightly. Love can sometimes be far from fairy tale, but I do think there needs to be the love.
The older Bean gets the more of an insight I get to relationships not always being as they may seem from a rose tinted distance. You walk closer to the painting by Monet, and realise what you thought was a flower from the other side of the room could actually be anything. Conversations with friends sometimes becoming the relationship insight version of when you walk past a lit lounge on a dark evening and the curtains haven’t been drawn yet. You can’t help but look, and you are sometimes a little bit surprised.
You can’t help but wonder whether you could live the compromise that has been brought to your attention.
I have spent a lot of weekends wishing I had that person. The one who means I can share the driving, cooking, and homework supervision. Someone to exist with. Nothing out of the ordinary; shared experiences and the occasional willing ear for my waffle. Maybe coffee made in the morning and an extra ten minutes in bed. I have spent weekends wishing I were in the house with the light on before the curtains were left open in the evening.
I haven’t had that person for a while now. Had I been asked when Bean was born how I wanted things to pan out, single-parenting would not have been my answer. I would have put up with a lot of lacklustre not-quite-love for a long time, thinking it was for the best because I was doing the right thing.
Fortunately, it was not a decision I needed to grapple with. I did not have to pretend I was in love with someone for the sake of Bean, because I never had to make that choice. It was done for me. A closed door after dinner and the song playing on the stereo rendered a listening no go for a significant period of time.
But you come out the other side. Your door closing song comes on the radio, and you find yourself singing along having not given a thought to the memories it was tied up with.
You realise not only are you okay, but you are happy things played out as they did.
So, is living the status quo when you are not really feeling it anymore the best thing to do? Things tick over, you make some compromises, everything stays the same for your child; you are doing the right thing.
You do not do much together anymore, you do not hug when you get into bed, you are not even sure if you are ever really listened to. But the fridge is full, the house is warm, and someone old enough to drink gin with you when you are done with work for the week is there. You might have thought about seeing someone else and hoping you don’t get caught, but you are present for the day to day, exactly where you should be. You get to go to sleep knowing you are doing the right thing.
Would I want Bean to do the right thing? To be selfless and stay in a relationship dwindling in love because she believed it was the best for her child?
Or would I consider there was a case for the veiled selflessness of her being truly happy deep in her soul, and being brave enough to have faith the happiness of her child would follow in the footsteps of her truth to herself?
I would want her to be the blank page with the potential if what she had chosen were not as she hoped it would be. Life is short and I would not want her decision to be guided by social pressure as to what is the perceived best way to bring up a child.
I want Bean to be free, happy, and open to love from those who she wants and want her back. Confident and self-assured enough to draw that line in the sand if necessary.
It has taken a while to see it, but I am so happy to be free to love again. Available to be with someone not because I think I need them, but because I want them.