Myself Before Selfies

I don’t know where my focus is these days. Life has been messy, intense, chilled, and spectacular all at various moments. I am trying not to be obsessed with selfies as much these days. I think a combination of cutting my hair off and being in my 40’s kicked off a need to see me. To try to recognize that person and to appreciate her. I spent so much of my early youth not feeling pretty and not being confident in who I was that the selfie craze has been an excuse for me to be OK with liking that woman in the mirror, all going-on-43 years of her.

I want to take more selfies of my husband and me, however. We celebrated an anniversary last month, and I always get a rekindled spark of the man I married during this time of year. This year, that spark has managed to linger for a few weeks. You see, and you know what I mean (those of you who’ve been with your person for a long time), it’s hard to recognize the person you fell in love with sometimes. Even harder to remember the couple you both used to be. That person and that couple change over time. The moving of houses, the fighting over unwashed dishes, the sweeping up after spills, the challenge of dealing with your crap and his, the silence that encapsulates a household after a fight, the beauty of awakening, the settling after thresholds are crossed, the joy and cross to bear of being a parent….

How do we recognize ourselves after all of the change? How do we stay connected with that love we vowed to cherish and keep forever? The answer is still forming its way onto my lips, but after seven years of marriage and twelve years of being someone’s other half, I have been reflecting on the whole experience, this whole marriage business. The raising of kids part aside, if we can put it neatly aside, I mean it’s only the most amazingly massive part of life….Anyway, the part about raising a child aside, I’ve been thinking of myself before selfies, of myself before the terrible impressions I make of anyone famous, of myself before I sang in front of others and built crosswords and left hidden messages in cabinets, of myself before I saved all of my fortunes, before I could say “no”…before I saw myself through my husband’s eyes.

I owe so much to this man, Eric, to whom I’ve vowed to love and cherish forever. After twelve years of being together, it can be easy to focus on the flaws, on all the things that bugged you when you dated and still do, all these years later. You can say to yourself, I should have known I’d never get used to his driving or the way he eats a hamburger or the way he forgets to brush his teeth. I should have known, we say, in our tired and worn moments of the day-in-and-day-out of love.

Thank God for anniversaries. For the moments in the evening when the children are asleep and you both decide not to watch TV. But instead, decide to linger awhile in conversation, in laughter, in gazing at each other.

Thank God for selfies that exist to keep us appreciating ourselves, here and now, til death do us part.

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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