Thursday, March 13, 2014

3 Kids and No Husband

"Is she alone?", asked the man in seat 5F.
"Yes. 3 kids and no husband," said his wife in seat 5A, as the man shook his head.

They were talking about me. There I was, on a plane to Puerto Rico with my spawn, on my own. It was a last minute trip. There was a mass and a family get together in remembrance of my father, who passed away this time last year. I had wanted to go but couldn't bring myself to justify buying tickets when we could use the money for something else. The Sailor, true to form, took a quick gig to get enough money to buy us tickets and off we went without him. Poor guy couldn't get off work.

As far as decisions go, it was totally fly-by...the girls have school and here I am taking them on a trip to Puerto Rico. Terrible of me to essentially teach them that playing hooky is OK but this really was a family obligation. I needed to be there. Needed to feel the closeness of my family and through them, feel like my Dad was there.

It seems that a combination of crazy winter weather, frustration with the busyness of our schedule, compounded by the frustration of the Sailor and I always doing things on our own, was just too much. Poor Cubby doesn't even know that he has feet since they're always covered in socks. <insert comment dripping with hate of the polar vortex here>. I needed out and I needed it bad.

So, there I was overhearing this conversation between this married couple(who incidentally were from Milwaukee, as in the same place where the Sailor is from. Can I ever get away from Milwaukee?). I think my initial reaction was to laugh at them. If they knew just how devoted the Sailor is, they wouldn't make a comment like that. My second reaction was mind your business. My third reaction was shock, I CAN hear you, and my last reaction was: I got this because the Sailor is confident that I can handle it all by myself and I'm a tough chick.

I reflected on their statement and also  my reactions, and I came up with this: if I was them looking at me, would I jump to conclusions? Would I judge the picture before me without hesitation? Would I even want to know the back story? The answer is: yes. I would want to know the back story and make a connection with the person before me. I would want to. I would not judge, or add my two cents , or think the worst because I knew that part of what they were thinking was: here we are on a plane in Puerto Rico and here is a Puerto Rican woman with lots of kids and alone, what a pity. Yup....I'd been judged and pitied in the time it took her to utter that one sentence: 3 kids and no husband.

I was in seat 6F holding Cubby in my lap, Banshee sitting in the middle, Pixy at the window, with my heart on my sleeve and I was being judged. Wow. Here's what I should have said: I can hear you and as I see you judge me, so let me share with you my story. My name is Lisa. My husband is in the Navy, he works very hard so that I can stay at home to take care of our children, one of whom is special needs. Guess which one.  He knew that I would forever be disappointed in myself if I didn't attempt this trip back home to attend this family mass and gathering in honor of my Dad. He passed away last year suddenly. I do everything on my own because my husband's work schedule keeps him busy. He is the first to rise and the last in bed, but he doesn't complain. This is why I do everything on my own. I need to take care of the homefront, so our family can be happy. I'm happy in my situation, don't pity me. Please support me. That's what I should have said. Get to know me before you judge me, even on a 3 hour flight to Puerto Rico. I will be buried in memories, as you bury your toes in the sand. It's what I should have said.

Instead, I laughed, shook my head as I did so, and held Cubby, as the girls asked me to help them open their animal crackers. Life it seemed, had gone back to our typical rhythm...with  some tropical flavor mixed in.

Photo courtesy of "Airplane Flying In Sky" by Stuart Miles