Weekend BluesYesterday, a friend asked, "What sucks so much about being single?" First of all, let me be abundantly clear that this was in response to my complaints as to my own newly "single" (i.e., widowed) state. This is not intended as a commentary on single-ness of any sort other than my own current post-marriage experience of it, nor is it intended to express anything categorical about anyone else's relationships or foibles but my own.
Where do I even begin to answer that question? There are perhaps a thousand moments in a day where the wretchedness of my current state catches up with me, and takes my breath away. Today being Saturday, however, I'm especially mindful of the bleakness of my 'single' weekends.
For me, one of the great joys of my marriage was a sense of pervasive contentment that was probably utterly annoying to my friends. For the first time in my life, I felt assured that everything I needed or cared about was at home, and I was able to put to rest the lingering sense (a constant companion in my own single days) that there was something Else, something Out There, that I was missing. I don't pretend that this is anything more than my own insecurity, Cinderella complex, or what have you. And in my pre-married state, I found the kind of tension produced by that sense somewhat exhilirating.
I am not suggesting that I was incomplete when unmarried, or that my life was bleak and meaningless before I took on some man's family name.
So perhaps what I want to say is that my married life made me feel replete, satisfied, and fulfilled--at some barely conscious, constant level--in a way that I don't feel when I am alone. Maybe it was the presence of someone who acted as both anchor and ballast for my admittedly fluctuating psyche. A large part of it was the particular man I married, who always knew just why something struck me as funny, or understood the concept of the wicked "internal DJ" who would splice Duran Duran into a Cold Play song and spin the resulting mess over and over inside my brain. As I've said over and over, to anyone who even appears to be listening, I had never expected to find that kind of understanding and communion with another human being.
This is all a prelude to today's entry on the "why (my now) being single sucks" list: the weekend.
Back when my family, the one my husband and I created for ourselves, was complete, the smallest weekend tasks were part of a rich experience. Without him, errands with my daughter (however fabulous she is for a three-year old) are less an adventure than a hassle. Without another adult, meals with a three-year-old are brief, frustrating affairs, consisting of battles over what gets eaten, when ("No, you need to eat some protein before I can get you a cookie"), and how ("Remember, honey? We don't pour milk on the floor--we poor it into our tummies.") Daily routines lack the simple joy and satisfaction they gained from being part of a nearly indescribable domestic happiness. I had someone to share with me the conviction that our daughter is the funniest, smartest, most beautiful child in the world.
Now when I take my daughter to her weekly activity, I'm the only one there by myself. The only one without a partner who can gloat with me about how much happier we are than any other couple we see. The one who sits to the side, too sad and lazy to make conversation with what I now think of as "the happy people" there. I know they have their secret sorrows and frustrations. But they also have something I don't.
These days, the weekend is a bleak stretch of trying to keep my daughter entertained, even as we are cooped up inside by apparently eternally foul weather. Without resorting too often to the "virtual playpen" of her carefully selected children's videos. With her to amuse, I can't even take refuge in the sedentary pleasures of single life: the bad matinee (at home or in the theater), or an entire day consumed by a book.
I have done a good job, I think, of planning events and outings for us both. But they require effort. For me, being a family (again, in the sense that we have lost our central member, not that a mother-daughter dyad is inherently an inadequte family) was an effortless but never invisible joy.