You probably won’t believe me, but I knew about two weeks after I started dating The Musician that I was going to marry him – that was two years and eight months ago. It has been two years and eight months of smiling, singing, laughing and basically all-round bliss. I’m not kidding. It’s true. You probably won’t believe this either, but we STILL haven’t had a single argument. NOT. ONE. Not a raised voice, not a rolled eye, not a bad word. Don’t get me wrong – there have been plenty of other “EX-ternal” reasons for raised voices and frustrations, but even in the face of obscene difficulties, his resolve and grace under pressure only make me love him more.
Should I be letting a geneticist know so we can clone this guy?
I almost feel guilty I hit the jackpot and I have all these amazing single girlfriends who are wading through tinder profiles of serial killers and tragic nobodies lost in the abyss of singledom, not to mention the liars, the cheaters, the married men and the closet homosexuals who are wasting everyone’s time (don’t get me started). Not that there’s anything wrong with singledom – I loved it. I just didn’t love the propensity for dickheads to congregate there. There are plenty of married dickheads too I suppose (like the ones on tinder).
Saying “I do” the second time around feels sooo right compared to the uncertainty I felt the first time I was blinkered and coaxed into the holding yards – that was a race no one won. Although I think my then mother-in-law may have been taking bets on the loser. Over the last decade or so less Australians have married for the second time, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In 2013 almost one third of marriages in Australia were between couples where one or both had been married before (approximately 32,000 compared to 37,000 in 1993).
And of those marriages there is a greater likelihood of blended families with children present from previous marriages or relationships. This brings me to my two little cherubs. There are only a few absolutes in life – things that resonate with such certainty down to your very core. Two of those absolutes are my daughters and the bond that we share. Any mother will tell you the connection you have to your child is as certain as the air you breathe.
One of my absolutes, let’s call her A1, isn’t so enthusiastic about sharing her mum with The Musician. She sees us as a tight-knit trio, not a quartet. Her exact words were “we’re like the Gilmore Girls mum. It’s just us. You’re mine and I’m yours.” And I completely understand how she feels. I was THE most over protective daughter when it came to my own single mother and potential new partners. I had seen the hurt and pain she endured after my father left and it took us years to overcome the financial and emotional strain. A1 has also seen enough in her short life to warrant a well-founded fear of marriage and probably men in general. Thankfully The Musician is helping to dispel those fears with the gentle assurance only he can impart.
Meanwhile my assurance that I love her the same today as I did the day she was born, regardless of whether I’m married, divorced or repartnered, seems to serve as little comfort to her. I know her concern for me comes from a place of deep, consuming love. I am her constant, her starting point in her own life’s journey. And if psychologist John Bowlby’s attachment theory is anything to go by –she needs me to form a healthy foundation from which to proceed out into the big, wide world.
In addition, children of parents or families who have experienced violence feel they have a greater responsibility and concern for the welfare of the abused parent. She sees herself as my protector.
I understand she worries for our little trio given we are still licking the wounds from a disastrous marriage past. But what is a mother to do? I considered waiting until the children left high school, had more life experience and could emotionally cope better with a second marriage. Then my own mother reminded me I also thought it was a good idea to stay with the children’s father until they were older and better able to cope with a divorce – there’s 15 years I won’t be getting back.
“You have to start living your own life at some point Heidi,” my mother declared.
Is she right?
It seems A2, in stark contrast to A1, is well and truly ready for me to move on with my life – she has already picked out my wedding dress, decided the colour scheme (I didn’t know we had to have one), chosen her dress and can barely contain her excitement. The only absolute in this parental dilemma is absolute opposites.
Then of course, there is the absolute I feel with him. I can’t tell you exactly what it was that sparked that sense of knowing two years and eight months ago, but I definitely knew. Some might call it women’s intuition, some might say it was a master stroke of genius from the ethereal artist, some might say it was pot luck. My mother says it is a miracle. Honestly, I don’t care what it was, or how it happened, I’m just grateful I decided to send my daughter to guitar lessons all those years ago and he was the teacher.
Increasingly I feel like I have lived two completely different lives – the first half filled with sadness and a depressing hopelessness that made me question the point of it all and the second half so wonderfully whole and united it makes living in this world a pleasure. My children have walked with me through both of those lives.
I remember when I was in my mid-teens asking my mother what love was and how I would know when love found me. Surely in her profound wisdom she would have some insightful explanation of what to look out for, some sign or feelings, or heart-stopping moments for which I should brace myself. “Oh you just know,” she said matter-of-factly. You just know!? That doesn’t help me at all. I remember being very disappointed with her answer. Now however, I appreciate the complexity of my question – how do you adequately describe to someone what it feels like to be in love?
You can’t – you just know. And as Michael Leunig said – it’s a simple and as difficult as that.