In the ongoing struggle between emotion and intellect, most wives I've met sabotage their family's future by alienating her man from his manhood, forcing him into maroon or tan Plymouth Voyagers and denying him the mystery, thrill and hunt of his glory days. Similarly, the church over-schedules everything, pulling families apart on the few days they have to spend together. God never promised us Happily Ever After. Keeping families together is up to us.
There are several sisters I know who wear masks. They arrive at
church with the warm, reassuring smiles they have, over time,
learned to wear around the house for their children. No matter
what’s going on in their lives, in their homes, in their
marriages, these women have learned to fasten that Mommy Smile
on before facing the world. It is her great sacrifice, to mask
her true feelings. While the Daddy/husband can and usually does
freely lumber about with his misery showing on his face, Mommy
is the optimist. Mommy’s face gives us hope, gives us courage.
And the Daddy/husband is no more intuitive or mature than the
children, who simply take and take and drain Mommy’s
energy—behavior they learned in the womb; Mommy being a
veritable buffet of sustenance for us.
Children are narcissistic by design. They have neither the intellectual nor the emotional reserves to put others before them. Babies just take and take and take. Giving is a learned response, as giving goes against nature and against our survival instinct. We have to be taught how to give, but we are born taking—taking everything we possibly can— from Mommy. What’s saddest, though, is that most men never fully outgrow this business of taking. Most men are socialized to be takers. Hunters, gatherers, conquerors. Almost by design, but certainly by indoctrination, men are purposed to take from women. Most men have to be taught, trained, how to give to women because, for most of us, women are objects. Women are strategic objectives. Women are servants.
And, thus, in the course of her life, Mommy finds herself drained all day and all night long. Drained first and foremost by her own selfish children, who always want something who always need something, and who rarely if ever think of her or her needs before their own. Or, worse, maybe she’s married to someone who has emotionally checked out, become one of the Walking Emotionally Dead we see shuffling aimlessly through shopping malls across America.
Ever see that? That dead look in the guy's eye as he reluctantly sidles along with his wife— who, in nearly very case, has neglected her figure and succumbed to rampant Mommy Disease— while pushing the ubiquitous umbrella stroller with the fussy child who came as a surprise to them both; a child who is most certainly loved and, at least in Dad's case, most certainly regretted. His is the mask of desperation. Kill Me. Kill Me Now. Please.
I can always tell the married couples in a restaurant by seeing who's not talking. If you see a couple, with or without The Regretted Child, who seem bored and aren't talking to each other, they are most surely married. And, whether they admit it or not, they are both looking for the nearest exit, which is likely to be some stupid, meaningless fight that simply presents an opportunity to end the misery they are both enduring. These are the same people who once couldn't keep their hands off each other. Who used to talk all night long, take interminable walks, who cried and prayed and demanded of God an eternal bond with each other, now rendered mute by the tyranny of pancakes and Simulac.