All I Want Is For Them To Stay Together
When I thought about it, perhaps it wasn’t fair for me to tell the men in my sister and mother’s life to be better men than I. After all, they are still men, which is short for imperfect human being. To put on them a responsibility I haven’t even been willing to do myself, is unfair and somewhat fairly hypocritical.
So I have been thinking about it and I figured out exactly what it is I really want, aside from the obvious good treatment of my mother and my sister. I want my Mom and my stepdad, my sister and her boyfriend, to stay together. Stay together for their entire lives.
Every time I talk to my sister I ask her four things, in this order:
How are you doing?
How is my niece doing?
How is your man doing?
How are you two doing?
The first two questions are obvious, right? The third question can be considered a formality. But the answer to the last question, tells the truth about the three previous questions.
My sister can tell me she’s doing fine all because she’s not sick, and she can say my niece is fine because she’s not crying or doesn’t have a fever, and she can tell me her man is doing okay because, well, the last she time she asked him the same question, that’s what he said. But then, if I ask her how the two of them are doing, and she hesitates or says they’re only doing “Okay”, I know all is not well with the rest and to me, this is the most important.
I remember when my Mother and Pop were going through their separation and at one point being upset with the way my Mom was handling the situation. I thought she didn’t need him and she still had us and so why be sad over him? I thought the love of her children should be enough. And all she could say to me was that it was different.
It wouldn’t be until I saw my Mom get married to the man she is with today that I realized how different it was. When I walked her down the aisle to give her away to my step-dad, I silently prayed to myself that this would be the last time my mother would ever have to walk down the aisle again and the two of them would indeed stay together until death do them part.
When my sister told me she was having a baby one of my main concerns was her relationship with her boyfriend, which by all accounts has always been strong. My sister knows like I know what it’s like to go back and forth between parents, visiting one set on the weekends, and staying with another the rest of the time. I didn’t want my niece to have to go through the same thing, and also, well, I know my sister loves the father of her child, and I don’t want to see her hurt if it never worked out.
I have comforted my Mom and my sister when men have done them wrong, and I remember back then wondering why men would ever do such things, never thinking there was more than one side to the story. Then I became a man myself…
When I became an adult and began to have my own relationships, and saw women cry because of things I did, or sometimes felt the pain of something a woman did to me, I realized that when relationships don’t work out, there’s a heavy emotional toll everyone is going to pay, but no one pays more than the two people who were in the relationship. Heartbreak, as a kid, is something we kind of only see in movies, and maybe at most, feel for our second grade crush. But heartbreak as an adult, is very real. No movie sums it up accurately, nor do they sum up relationships accurately.
I may have told this story before, so forgive me long time readers, but I remember when I was a kid, a trip my sister, mother, and I were supposed to take to our grandparents. At the last minute, it was canceled, and when I asked my mom why, she said my grandparents got into an argument. I said, “Well they should go to sleep.” And my mom asked me why I suggested such a thing. “Because,” I replied. “Every time you and Dad argue, when you wake up, you two don’t argue anymore.”
As a child, we just don’t want the relationships to be messy, we don’t think about how difficult they are and how it takes both people to make them work. We don’t think how the mistakes one person makes can sometimes be unforgivable or sometimes be caused by the other person. We choose sides, and usually we choose the side of whoever is crying first or most hurt. I would be remiss to think my mom is always in the right and my step-dad is always in the wrong, that my sister always does the right thing and any argument she has with her boyfriend will be his fault.
As an adult, I know better. As a man, I have experienced more and I have realized that maybe the biggest mistake I made was being with women who weren’t right for me. As tough as it is to say, I know sometimes the tears my mom cried or my sister cried were of their own doing, and I have to applaud the men for their patience with these women who, much like the men, are imperfect human beings.
I don’t just want the men in the lives of my mother and my sister to be good men. I want my mother and my sister to be good women to those men too. And for all of them to be good to each other. I mean, if I can’t get that for myself, let me see it had by the people I love most.
I’ve made a couple women cry, cried over a couple women, and if there’s one thing I want beyond not ever going through something like that again myself, is seeing the people I love the most go through it themselves.