This is Us
Ben and Isaac play a raucous game of Spider-Man UNO by the bird cage while Susanna smiles secretively at Daniel Tiger on the tv, who is singing about what to do when you feeling jealous.
Daniel Tiger asks, “Do you ever feel jealous?” And Susanna answers emphatically, YES! She looks at me and giggles. I felt the sting of jealousy myself the other day as I scrolled mindlessly through facebook. Contentment is such a thin little balance beam to walk. I fall off a lot.
Abby is curled into the recliner with the second Harry Potter. Tim plays a game on Isaac’s new Kindle in the other recliner beside me, having made my morning by bringing me Starbucks. Peppermint Mocha with coconut milk and no whip, please. Food and drink are my love languages.
Isaac asks me “Do you see that baby on the commercial where it is holding the dad’s face? That reminds me of Selah McGee. Doesn’t it?” I nod at him. I love how we have this shared community in our church with its colorful cast of characters.
Abby makes herself a cup of tea. Tim remarks to me that we might as well have a 400 square foot home because the kids all want to be in the living room all hours of the day. “I think they’d be happy if we just moved their beds in here so they never have to leave,” he tells me.
I know the teen years are coming with the closed doors. I love when we are all together, each doing his or her own thing. I love it right up until I’ve had enough togetherness and I need some alone time. That happened to me last night around 7:00 pm. Tim allowed me to shut myself in my room and just be, which ended up meaning cleaning up my clothes, straightening my dresser drawers and watching the Robert Downing Jr “Sherlock Holmes” movie.
It’s taken me longer than it should have to understand my own needs. After a day of giving and giving, I need alone time to recharge all I have given. It is the essence of the introvert. When the door is closed, an inner sense of relief washes over me. When you are very tuned in to the feelings of those around you, it is a relief to turn off that frequency for a minute. It allows you to tune into your own feelings, or simply disengage and be. I’m thankful Tim understands my need for this shelter.
One beautiful thing about marriage after many years is how you begin to soften into the unique needs of your spouse. In the early years, you try to change them, pushing and pulling to try to fit your own needs. But then you begin to realize—they aren’t going to change to make life easier for you, and you begin to make space for who they are and what they need and who you are, and what you need and this is compromise. This is marriage. This is us.