I got knocked up about two months after my 19th birthday.
A year later, 9 years ago today, I was married.
When you find yourself pregnant, a mother, and a wife – in that order – you give up on some fantasies. You never have the surprise proposal on a weekend getaway, with the boyfriend whose name you’ve been writing with yours down on one knee. You give up the glass slipper dream, with Prince Charming pick you out of a crowd and knowing that you are the one.
You let go of being chosen by more than timing and fertility gods.
I struggled with that for a long time. No matter how many times Jared told me that he loved me, that I really and truly was the love of his life, there was always the nagging voice in the back of my head that asked what if.
What if you hadn’t gotten off the pill?
What if you hadn’t had too much to drink?
What if you hadn’t gotten pregnant?
What if he didn’t have to be with you?
Would he still?
Did you rob him of his chance at true love? Did you take away his chance at choosing as much as you lost your chance at being chosen?
That’s a lot of doubt and insecurity to make room for in a marriage. And we’ve been living with that in our marriage for a very, very long time. Almost 9 years.
And then a few weeks ago, alone in my car after having dropped Emma off at daycare, I remembered what I had learned about choosing. I found myself thinking about the fact that two years ago I owned up to the fact that I choose this life every single day. I let go of my own claustrophobia about my life and embraced the fact that I don’t have to be here – or anywhere – but that I am. Because I want to be.
Yes, I have obligations and people who count on me. But people walk away from their obligations every day. It’s not exemplary behavior – but it’s an option. A real option for everyone of us every day. Of course, me walking away from my life would be hurtful to be people I care about – but we hurt the ones we love all the time in the name of selfish needs. It can be done. It can be done, if we choose it.
But I don’t. I choose this. I choose motherhood and being a wife to Jared. I choose them and this life every morning when I wake up here and every night when I lay my head down in our bed.
I remembered, in the car that day a few weeks ago, how liberating it had been to realize that I was still very much in control of my life and my decisions. How freeing it was to know that I was not now, nor had I ever been, a victim of my circumstances.
I loved this family, this man, this boy, this girl – not because they had grown on me over time – but because I wanted more than anything to love them.
And a few weeks ago I realized it was time to extend that same… power… to Jared.
It wasn’t fair for me to tell him that he was here because he had to be – especially not when he told me with his own mouth that he loved me. It wasn’t fair for me to question his sincerity or his happiness. It wasn’t fair for me to rob him of that authority on his own life.
It wasn’t fair for my insecurities to make him trapped when he insisted he chose me.
So… I let it go.
In the car by myself with the radio off, two blocks from our front door, I let it go. Or rather, I gave it back. To him. I gave him back the right to choose me and I gave myself permission to believe him.
I’ve messed up a lot of things in this marriage over the last nine years. I’ve gotten made a lot of assumptions and gotten a lot of things wrong. But, I was right about one thing.
It feels good to be chosen.