The Sidelined Wife(8)

By: Jennifer Peel

I don’t think people read family blogs anymore, but for those that do and that don’t already know, there is a family here no more. At least, not the one that was portrayed in the pictures and posts. I didn’t know I was lying when I wrote all those sappy lines about how amazing my life was and how blessed I was to have a husband that loved me even if he at times drove me mad. But it was all a lie, except for my entries about Cody. He’s still the perfect kid and no one is changing my mind on that, not even him.

From now on it will only be the Cody and Samantha Show. It kind of has ring to it. I mean, who needs a husband, anyway? There’s a lot less laundry and dishes now. And I can even blare my music in the morning when I get ready. So maybe I cuddle up to chocolate mousse pie at night, but there is no one to remind me how it causes heart disease or a few extra pounds. I always wanted dimples; I might as well get a few on my butt. It’s not like anyone will see them, except maybe me. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea, but wow, was it delicious. More delicious than stale morning breath, I’ll tell you that. I don’t miss that one bit.

You know what else I don’t miss? I don’t miss feeling alone in a relationship that was so one-sided. You ladies know what I’m talking about. We are the ones who scrimp and save to get by in those early years. We do all we can to make sure their dreams are realized. That the careers they longed for become realities. We bear the burdens of day-to-day life, from taking care of the children, to grocery shopping, cleaning, and making sure a nice meal awaits them. We don’t get days off or even recognized for what a luxury it is for them to have a spouse at home holding down the fort. Some of us even have to work outside the home just to make ends meet at times, yet we still carry the weight of what makes a family function.

We are still the ones to get up all hours of the night with fussy infants or sick toddlers. We help with homework and shuttle children to and from school and a million activities. Somewhere in the middle of that we are running the errands our husbands never have the time for. Oh, and we’re still supposed to look sexy while doing it all.

But what happens to those first wives, the first string, the ones who made their teams winners and held it all together, who came through with miraculous saves in the fourth quarter all for their spouse’s glory and honor? The ones who never failed to score and make it all count? I’ll tell you what happens. We get tired, and crow’s feet start to appear. Our firm abs get stretchmarks from bearing their children, and it never seems to be the same no matter how many crunches you do. Our bathroom counters start being lined with anti-wrinkle and anti-aging cream, anything to turn back the clock on the bodies we’ve tried so hard to maintain for them even though we never had the time to put ourselves first.

They think we don’t notice the little glances that linger longer on the younger women that pass by these men we’ve pledged our all to. The ones that we’ve let gracefully age, and even found their gray hair attractive and took pride in their laugh lines because those lines reminded us that we played a part in their happiness.

For all our effort and sacrifice, we get sidelined just when it starts getting really good. When that career he spent all his time on starts paying off and your children are older and don’t need constant attention. That place where you think you can get back to the two of you and start living out your dreams of traveling and maybe even making love all night long like you used to when it was all new.

But before you know it, the second string is called in and you’ve been taken out of the game. You don’t even know why, other than the new lineup is much younger and they think the moon and the sun rise in the pig’s pants. The new string only sees a paycheck. They don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears of the woman behind the man that got him there in the first place. They will never know what real love is, or what they destroyed. They may score some points, but they will never be champions, not of him or in life. But maybe someday, when gravity and time begin to make their appearance, they too will learn what it’s like to live life on the sidelines.

For me, I’m choosing to live by my own game plan now. I’m more than someone’s wife. I am me.

I wiped the tears away each time I read over it, thinking I should delete it. But some voice called deep inside and said I should tell the truth. That it would set me free. And it’s not like anyone would ever read it. It felt like someone besides me clicked Publish.

I set my laptop aside and lay against my pillow. In the morning, I would probably take the whole site down. The Happy Higgins blog would be no more. I wasn’t sure it was ever true. But from here on out, I was living the truth. Cody and I would be happy. We didn’t need Neil for that. We never did.