Just another bend in the road
As I was casting about for a column topic, I made the mistake of asking my husband for his thoughts. He suggested I write about how wonderful he was.
“Are you serious?” I asked skeptically. I would rather have poked fun at him for his recent bout of man flu in which he retreated into the bedroom in a state of dramatic agony, only to let out occasional moans and pitiful whimpering.
“Oh yeah,” he said, warming to the topic and saying I should write something about how appreciative I was of “the master of our household.”
After I finished gagging, I gave his idea some more thought. Already for the past month, I’d been thinking how lucky I am and what an amazing gift he’d given me on our first Christmas together six years ago.
We had gotten married that summer and I’d gone to live with him in England. He’d taken a lot of pains to make the small apartment a home for us, and I was amazed by the beauty of everything from the quaint town to the breathtaking English countryside.
However, I struggled after the move, not having a job or any friends. I was ready to take up any kind of work, but at the end of the day, I was just a clueless university grad with unemployable skills like knowing how to do multiple regression analyses and writing news stories. To top it off, my husband was working his tail off, and by 8 p.m. when he came home, he could barely muster the energy to watch a show before passing out.
That Boxing Day, not even four months into my move, he told me decisively, “We should move to Canada.” I was shocked by his certainty. After all, his whole life was rooted here – his family, his love of his native Wales, his job and his political ambitions. How could he give it all up?
But he was adamant that I wasn’t happy, that we needed to try something different and that he was up for the adventure. Even though I argued for staying, since it hurt to think of all the things he’d be sacrificing, I felt in my bones he was right, and that if we went along this path, things would work out.
Shortly after, I started applying for jobs, and the St. Paul Journal was the place I ended up, with my husband following me. Once he arrived, things kept falling into place for us, from a place to stay, to a job for him, to help whenever we needed it.
As much of a rude shock as I had moving to England, I really felt for my husband once winter hit. At first, he thought the snow was wonderful, but by February and endless days of -30, he was asking, “So. . . when does it end?” Our move gave me a real appreciation for people like my parents who immigrate here, who leave beautiful, warm countries for the winter-freeze of the prairies. I also came to appreciate how difficult it is leaving family behind. Even when they drive you crazy, they’re the ones you can always count on, and moving away from them can be a real pull on the heart.
But as I said in an earlier column, we make our choices and move forward with them, seeking out the life for ourselves we want. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t give thanks for the life I have and for my husband for his courage and the gift of sacrifice to make me happy.
Of course, life isn’t always smooth and easy, and sometimes it’s all I’ve got to hold on until night and merciful sleep. On my 30th birthday, my son was hit with the croup and could barely breathe, necessitating a midnight trip to the hospital. The only way I could calm him down in his terrified state was to tell him his favourite story and then to sing in my terrible, croaky voice, until he finally settled into my arms. Looking at this beautiful boy, I felt a wave of tenderness and pride.
Generally, being a mother has a way of making me feel inadequate – I don’t have the patience to play Barbies, I don’t come up with crafting projects, and I don’t always make home-cooked, balanced meals. But I had the key to my son’s trust and love, to calming him down even in his terror. Sure, it’s not always an easy task to be needed so much, particularly when you are sick, tired, or seven months pregnant, but it is rewarding to be someone’s rock. Thankfully, I have my own rock in my husband, and know I can count on him when I need the extra support.
Soon now, we will welcome our third child into the world - a prospect that still fills me with anxiety. Instead of sitting peacefully and writing, I’ll be changing diapers, trying to juggle a feeding baby while reading aloud to the other two, breaking up fights, cleaning and just trying to hold it all together. But I know as long as we trust the forces that brought us together, that brought us here, and that brought us these little monsters – er, I mean, precious and beautiful children - we will be just fine.
Thanks to everyone at the St. Paul Journal for being such a great crew to work alongside. And to all our readers and my husband’s school families, thanks for making me feel that whatever we have given up, we have gained a lot more… we are fortunate to be part of your community.
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