Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Glimmer of Hope

These last few months have been really tough for me. But the one thing I have come to rely upon is my relationship with the Boy. We have been happily plotting along, despite all of the challenges life has thrown our way. At least that is what I thought. Little did I know that bubbling just below the surface of our comfortable facade were some of the same issues that have haunted us since we started dating.

Well, one issue in particular. A baby. The Boy thinks he wants to have one someday and I have pretty much closed off that option.

I thought that the Boy was starting to change his mind on that topic, especially a few months ago when he announced that his friends in Indiana were pregnant with their fourth child. "Seriously, they are having four bible thumper babies down there and I probably won't even have one to counteract it," he said matter of factly.

Although I never said anything at the time, I sort of assumed that he was subtly hinting that he was open to the idea of not having children because he wanted to be with me. Fast forward to the present and all of a sudden we are back in the middle of the baby debate.

These last few months, the Boy has started looking at houses. Naturally, when he starts to think about buying a house, it leads him to contemplate the rest of his future. That imaginary woman to fill in her place at his side and the perfect non-crying, sleep through the night baby that will magically appear when the time is right. It's not that I am purposely trying to burst his bubble, but sometimes I want to explain to him that his fantasy world is not reality.

This weekend we had another one of those talks. I can't really call it a fight because the Boy and I don't like to fight. We talk and we listen and we have lots of long pauses where we try and understand the other person's perspective. Sometimes I envy those couples who just yell at each other or throw a plate at the wall and then jump right into the make up sex. Because not fighting with the Boy is exhausting.

It started on Friday night. The Boy had made an offer on a house earlier in the day, so I picked him up for dinner and we drove by it. At the restaurant, he was talking about how excited he was about the house. I am actually really excited about it too. Out of all the houses he has looked at and made offers on over the past few months, this is the first one I have genuinely liked.

The Boy seemed a little out of sorts the whole night, but I was trying to make the best of it. We started talking about traveling, which is one of my safety topics, and then the Boy said this:

"I would love to go to Pictured Rocks sometime soon. I have always heard great things about it. And someday when I live in another state I would hate to say I lived so close to it and never got to see it."

Well, that was interesting
, I thought to myself. Why is the Boy in the process of buying a house here and then talking about how someday he will live in another state? That one comment was just the beginning of a series of things the Boy said that seemed to indicate he had lots of plans for his future. What was missing from his statements was the context of how his future might fit in with mine.

As you know from reading my blog, I am the last person in the world who needs to lock things down. I have said many times before that everything is temporary. Whether that means five minutes or five years. But something about the Boy's cavalier attitude just seemed to rub me the wrong way. Maybe it was my raging hormones, or maybe I just drank too much wine.

When we got back to his place and laid down in bed I just couldn't let it go. I explained to the Boy that he was acting distant from me and I wasn't sure why. Actually, I was pretty sure I did know why, but I wanted the Boy to admit it to me and to himself.

"I am not the second string quarterback in your life," I told him. "If you are just dating me until this other imaginary woman comes around, then we might as well break up now. I am a really good girlfriend. I am patient when you have too much to drink. I give you plenty of space to see your friends and do whatever you want to do."

At this point the wine had pretty much worn off, so all that was left were the hormones. I managed to get in one last comment before I ran out of steam. "I don't ask very much of anyone in my life, but I do ask that you treat me with respect."

"I know you're right," he said. "Can we talk about this some more tomorrow, or maybe Sunday?" he asked.

"I don't want to talk about it at all," I snapped back at him. Which was true. I had said my peace and there wasn't much left to talk about.

The next morning, the Boy made breakfast and we went out to run a few errands. By the time we got back to his house, whatever was left unspoken from the night before followed us right back into his bedroom. I sat down on the bed and gave him a chance to redeem himself.

"I know that you live in the present," he began. "But I like to plan ahead for my future. I don't need to have all the answers, but I want to make sure I am moving closer to my goals and not heading further away from them." He tried to give an example to make it sound like he was talking about his job, but we both knew that statement applied to his imaginary future woman and perfect baby.

"Well, you are not the only one who has a lot to think about," I explained to him. "I am a week late and my hormones are raging out of control. So you need to stop fixating on what might happen in the future and start thinking about how to handle things in the present."

I felt bad dropping that bombshell on him. I have been late the last 2-3 months in a row and it is probably just due to the stress of traveling for work. But I felt like it was an opportunity to show the Boy that he needs to get his head in the game.

As I drove back to my place, I replayed the conversations in my head. The Boy and I do so well in the present. And we both have reservations about marriage, for a variety of reasons. We have survived for two years by keeping it casual and not thinking too far ahead.

But just because our relationship isn't defined, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. So how do you plan for a future with someone when you haven't made a commitment to them in the present?

Saturday night I stayed in and watched a movie while the Boy went out with his friends. I didn't hear from him until Sunday afternoon. He called and asked if he could stop by to take some measurements for a new bathroom door he is building for me. I was hoping that wasn't code for coming over to break up with me.

The Boy arrived to take his measurements and then we headed over to the hardware store. When we got back, he hugged me for a long time. Then he said that he had a few questions for me. We sat down on the couch and he started talking.

And he put the future out on the table. "Eventually I would like more than two nights a week," he said. "And I would like to have a child someday, preferably from my own seed. I need to know if those things are possible with you."

"Well, I have been doing a lot of thinking myself," I began. "And before I answer you, I need to know if those are just things you want, regardless of who you are with, or if you envision those things with me. Because if you are going to have them with me, then it might look a little different than the way everyone else does it."

The Boy looked at me and tears started to well up in his eyes. "That is what has been so tough for me these past few days," he said. "I am having a hard time imagining those things with anyone else but you."

Then the Boy and I had the most honest conversation we have ever had about our future. We talked about the challenges of living together and how we both value our independence. We decided to start spending a few extra nights together each week to see how it might work. And we talked about keeping two houses so that I could always be close to my family. We also talked about how neither one of us wants to get married and if we ever changed our mind about it, there would have to be an iron-clad prenuptial agreement.

And I told him that before I would even consider having a baby with him, I needed to see that he was ready and that he really understood what it takes to raise a child. And I explained that in order for us to have a baby, there would have to be a third party involved because I have no intention of going through the pregnancy and more importantly the labor. Finally, I reminded him that he would need to make enough money to support us so that I could stay home with the baby. Just because I currently make more money than he does, there is no way that he should be planning any "Mr. Mom" scenarios.

Even as I write this, I am still not sure whether I can cross the line on the baby thing. If I was ever going to have a child, I always thought I would adopt one. And I wasn't necessarily thinking it would be an infant. But I also know that people can evolve. And I am not ready to throw away my relationship with the Boy because of an imaginary perfect baby that may never come to be.

The Boy seemed so happy and relieved after our conversation. Somehow he was able to reassure me of his intentions and I was able to give him a glimmer of hope for the future.

I'm not saying that everything we talked about will happen. But I'm also not saying that it won't.

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