Yesterday I wrote about how being partnerless on Mother’s Day feels a bit lonely. I wondered why I felt this way this year, when I’ve been a single parent for the past three. Somehow being without a partner was feeling heavier to me this year.
Running it all through my mind in a stream of consciousness way…Mother’s Day….Mother’s Day without a husband, not so bad…Mother’s day without a husband and without a father…wounding. Why?
I feel the feminist inside me dying as I write this, but I think it’s about traditional roles. “The dad” (and then the husband/dad) is the protector. The mom is the nurturer. Here I am nurturing my ass off and where is my protector?
They are both gone, albeit in entirely different ways.
When you get married, (if you’re lucky) your dad “gives you away.” They literally ask that at the alter, “Who gives this woman…” (Actually, writing it down this way, it seems so perverse; creepy even. I’d like to think I was not a possession to be given away, but…)
It’s all about symbolism, right?
I was his only daughter. To “give me” to someone else – it meant something to him. It meant he was trusting another man to love me as deeply as he did, to honor me and to protect me. To respect me. To keep me safe from harm.
I’m sure some readers are rolling their eyes or suppressing vomit at the moment – but I believe all that. I’m an independent, self sufficient woman and I still want a man who makes me feel safe, protected, and looked after.
There, I said it (wrote it, whatever). Deal with it.
When all of that safety and care fell away in my marriage, I still had a man in my life who made me feel safe and cared for. In fact, he was the best man I’ve ever known –
I was not conscious at the time of the emotional safety net he provided during my trapeze act, for I never needed it.
Going off on my own with my four and seven year old daughters in tow, I was strong (as strong as I could have been at the time). I was capable.
Deep down, though, I suppose I always knew that if I fell – really fell – he would catch me. He would keep me safe.
I guess I feel a bit like a trapeze artist who has suddenly looked down only to realize the net – the one she always knew was there for her –
That net has vanished, and it’s scary as hell up here.
Even though she knows it was never really the net that kept her safe; it was herself.
Just the same, knowing the net was there made it feel safer to take risks…
It made it easier for her to step off the platform and to trust herself to make it to the other side in one piece.
She knows the show must go on…
She’ll steady her breath, fix her gaze ahead, and stay balanced,
…but she’ll miss that net.