I am a gardener. I am a wannabe farmer. I would do anything to practice husbandry. I am a homemaker. I do yard work, canning and have aspirations of running a farm stand. And I am a diva. Please let me explain.
When I first met my husband I lived in a duplex in a poor neighborhood in a big city in California. He was a maintenance worker and was hired to gut the other half of the building. One day we saw each other, smiled but went our separate ways. I thought there was a bit of a spark but I couldn't tell at the time. Well, the following weekend I had a garage sale to make extra money. He came by and bought a vacuum cleaner that I didn't even realize was broken! The next day he asked me out to lunch. Yeah, there was a spark alright. Within six months we were married and he still has the broken vacuum cleaner to this day (and refuses to fix it).
As time went on we realized something: We couldn't be more different from each other. I mean, it goes beyond the "opposites attract" thing. He is the second to the youngest child of 7. I am the oldest of 5 children. He was raised in Oregon fixing cars and cutting trees. I was raised in the hard part of a city in California. He grew up with a mom that cooked, sewed, canned, had a garden and stayed at home. I grew up with a mom that had a bad marriage and then divorced; she took care of us by herself, and set a good example of how to be a strong survivor. He grew up with a dad who made his kids work hard for their keep; teaching them about ethics and honor. I grew up with a dad that was mostly absent from the picture and then permanently absent at age 14. His family sat down to meals every night, talked about their day and grew very close. My family did a little of that when we were young, but as we grew older we all went our separate ways. He had friends that he knew since grade school. I didn't really trust anyone and therefore 'friends' came and went all the time. He tried to do the right thing by getting married to his pregnant girlfriend (his first wife) but it ended in divorce and then he gained custody of their son. I was a single mom who was too proud to grovel for marriage - and I never thought twice about it. He never dressed up, chewed with his mouth wide open and scratched his privates in public. I had a meltdown if I couldn't afford to buy a relaxer for my hair. He is white. I am black. He's a man. I'm a woman. (I could go on and on folks.)
But there was another thing we realized: The differences didn't matter. We fell head-over-heels in love. My mother-in-law tells a funny joke about her marriage, "I saved a woman from spending a life sentence in prison," she says, "because someone else would have killed him by now!" Now at first hearing it, it sounds like they made a mistake but that isn't the case at all; they were meant for each other. You see, love doesn't equal bliss - it simply means that you are both on the same page about working hard to make it work. (Or maybe just too stubborn to turn back?) So with that in mind we sat down and talked about it, and did the one thing that saved us: We began to do the hard work.
Now, doing the work is WAY harder than it sounds. We both had to decide what we could give up and what was worth fighting for. Here are a couple of (the nicer, censor-friendly) examples:
I used to be RAID happy whenever so much as an ant dared to enter my house. All he saw was poison - poison going into his lungs and killing that poor insect. He used to be... let's just say on the "expressive" side with his words. All I heard was nonsensical shock tactics that could be expressed in a much more effective way. So we began to do the work. I stopped using RAID and asked him to catch the insects and remove them, while he stopped the profanity and carefully chose modified words that would get his point across... even if it took him all night. (It's a man thing.) We allowed each other the occasional slip-up but occasional only, or we'd take it personal. Believe me, we had SO many little issues like this. One after the other. And then we had some bigger things. Big things. And oh yeah, throw in trying to blend our families on top of it all. (I really should write a book with the things we've been through.) But we did it, we're doing it and we're going keep on doing it. We are going to tackle one little stupid-but-marriage-threatening thing at a time.
But wait, there is one thing... one thing that may have done us in. Once in a while and if we could afford it, we would jump at the chance to go out. Getting all dolled-up was one of my biggest thrills. The hair was done, makeup was fierce, clothes were teeny and cute. (I should mention that I was a lot younger then too!) But I did the typical girl thing... made the hubby wait while I got ready to go out with him. He didn't quite like that and convinced me to change. In fact, he said he "preferred" it if I didn't get dolled-up. He loved me au naturel. It was torture giving up a lot of things I used to do concerning my divaness. But hey, he's the love of my life and was certainly worth it. So what's the problem? Well, years later I learned that it had more to do with the "amount of time" I took getting dolled-up rather than what he preferred. "What? What did you say? You're kidding right?" I didn't know what to do. What happened to all the "hard work" WE were supposed to do? Both of us liked the diva so waiting for her was a small price to pay. We could have made a deal or something... a swap even. You know, the diva gets as much time as she needs, and he gets to pick the restaurant... OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT! This wasn't a lopsided relationship where he gets away with getting his way! (ahem... sorry, I kinda re-lived it for a moment) So what could I do? At this point I am years into turning my back on my inner diva. I thought I lost her and now I feel bad because I should have fought for her.
As time went on I decided I wouldn't fight about it (unhealthy), I wouldn't make a big deal about it (counterproductive), and I actually let it go. (Sort of, we're kinda even now. Read this.) I worked hard at maturing, reflection, refocusing priorities. And then it happened. I got my diva back! And this time I went full-on girly-girl. Somehow I figured out how to balance her with the farmer girl in me. Both girls know their place and come out when I need them. And then I introduced them both to the hubby. He's never seen them work so well together and I think he knows to go with it and not against it this time. And so here I am; a farming diva. I coexist with me, myself and him.