Sunday I was sewing. I’ve been working on a quilt for my son’s girlfriend. While the Viking hummed, I was overcome by the need to cry. Or maybe you would call it a realization that I needed to cry. I’d been feeling heavy in my heart, and I’d been so tired for the past couple weeks.
A song came on my Christina Perri Pandora station that finally set the flood gates free, and I sat weeping while I sewed. It was as if on each tear sat a woman. Some I knew. Some I did not. But I felt their pain, as if my own, and I was overcome with the burden of the woman’s journey. (I later realized it was a bit ironic that as this all surfaced, I was working on a quilt for my son’s – most likely – future wife.)
My husband, Mike, returned home from fishing. He and his buddy weren’t having any luck. The river was churned up and too muddy.
I went out to the kitchen to talk to Mike while he ate his lunch, but I could not stop the river of tears from flowing. He seemed unaffected. Or maybe he was afraid to ask what I was crying about. I decided to share with him – whether he desired that information or not!
I told him I was feeling the pain of every woman in the world that day. I made reference to John Coffey in The Green Mile and how John could feel everyone’s suffering and see in his mind the horrible experiences they carried in their hearts. I told him that’s how I felt – like John Coffey. The Green Mile is one of our favorite movies, and the reference seemed to help Mike connect to what I was going through. I am sure, too, that he was happy that my tears were not directly his fault.
I went on to explain that although women have come so far in the world, they are still repressed and suppressed. They struggle to say what they want and need, because of these patterns from the past that women should shut up, be quiet, stuff their feelings, take a “chill” pill, and let the man rule. I told him I knew it was hard for him to understand, because, after all, he IS a man!
Sometimes, I can talk to him and think he is a brick wall and there’s no getting in. But this day, the door was open. He felt what I was saying. He volunteered examples of women we knew and how they let their significant others rule their lives, and now these women are ill or have chronic pain or discomfort.
We talked about how women seem to sacrifice themselves just to keep a man, even if the man doesn’t really make them happy. It’s as if success in life has been defined by the ability to keep your man happy.
As we discussed it all, my tears subsided and I realized he got it. He wasn’t judging me. He wasn’t thinking, “Silly women. Can’t wait to get out of here.” He didn’t tell me to take a pill (and never has), and he didn’t brush me off as being hormonal. His heart was open, and he was sharing my pain.
We’ve been spending a lot of our spare time working on a house that my youngest son, Alex, bought to fix up and move into. He’s in a serious relationship, and he’s twenty-six now; both good reasons to seek out his own place. Although I have been encouraging him to make this next move in his life, it has been a struggle for me, as well. He has always been a big supporter in my life. He’s a good listener, a great story teller, gives great hugs – and it seems, just when he can tell I need one. He’s the go-to when I need help. In short – he’s been my support system. And I don’t want to lose that.
I’ve noticed a change in our relationship with the entrance of the girlfriend, but I’m okay with that – most of the time. I think she and I will be good friends, and I hope that I can be a support system for her, because she is a woman, and I know she has fears, too, about these changes in her life. And as I put the pieces of her quilt together, I pray that she stays true to herself, because if there’s any man out there that would honor and respect that, it would be my son (or his brother! My current daughter-in-law actually told me that my sons are a “rare breed.”)
As Alex steps into this next phase of his life, and Mike and I settle into our empty nest, I’m letting go of the part of me that wanted to mourn the loss of what I thought was the best part of my life – being a mom. I’m actually looking forward to the possibilities this new life will bring. I hope to grow closer to my husband, to be a support system to my children, and I’m looking forward to more time to sew and quilt!