The Marriage of St. Bernadette

My friend Patty and I had just left the 1997 opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a vision and vacation realized, and were cruising through the Pyrénées.  It was night and in the distance we spotted a large cross.  Curious and Catholic, we drove towards it, quickly discovering we had stumbled upon Lourdes, France, the site of miracle cures and a pilgrimage for more than five million people a year.

On site, my friend was overcome with guilt and doubt, suddenly and totally immersed in her lost faith.  Patty cried heavily in the grotto and staggered through the signs of the cross, burdened with the weight of the fallen.  Later that trip we met a man, a man of faith, and he comforted her saying that the strength of her emotions was a positive thing; it meant she still cared.

I feel the same way about my marriage.

I had learned how Attachment Parenting and Exclusive Breastfeeding would bring my marriage closer; that my husband would witness my mother-baby dyad, take a step back and revere.  What a vision!  What fantasy.  What I really needed to hear was that while he was back there, my husband couldn’t put the baby to sleep.  For years.  He would struggle to feed the baby, comfort the baby, quell a tantrum.  What he needed to hear was that while he was back there, he would have to do more for me so that I could do more for them.  What we needed to hear was that our marriage would have to take a backseat to my new marriage and that we would be okay.  Instead we have mismanaged expectations and resentment – he wants to do more but can’t, I want to do less but can’t.

My daughter is attached to me.  She and I are one.  She will not let anyone else satisfy her needs.  My son before her, he too was mine completely.  My husband and I are never going to “leave the kids” and take a long weekend in Mexico.  There is no one there for them but us and one of us has the milk.  He and I went from balanced and equal to Venus and Mars in the click of a nursing bra clasp.

Today we don’t share much but a confidence in the foundation of our children’s lives.  It’s not sexy; you can’t pour it in a glass and pay the sitter afterwards, but it’s more than enough, for now.  It has to be.

We are driving through the mountains, focused on a singular goal while our marriage waits in a cave; waits to be rediscovered; waits for a cure.


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