Relationship Reflection

This year is a milestone year for me because it has been a decade since one of the most transformative years of my life. 2003 was the year I bought my first home as a 22 year old single woman. It was the year I completed my Montessori teaching certificate. Most importantly, it was the year I met the man who would become my husband. 2013 has provided me the opportunity to reflect on how I have grown and changed since that year that set my life in a certain direction. My relationship with my husband has evolved from its lustful and energetic roots into something mature and deep.

Food saved my marriage. It has become the central fiber woven amongst our most sacred family experiences. If it wasn’t for food, I don’t know where we would be. Our journey began very swiftly. Everything about our relationship was a whirlwind and we suddenly found ourselves lost. Salvation and direction were discovered in food.

We met in 2003 when Steve was twenty-one and I was twenty-three. Instantly inseparable, our romance was intense and satisfying. We were engaged seven months later. Ten months after that, we married. Nine months after the wedding, we found out we were pregnant. Mia came eighteen months into our marriage. Three years after our first meeting, we were married with child and mortgage (neither of which we could afford).

When Mia was born I was a full-time college student and a part-time teacher. I wouldn’t be able to continue teaching because we had child care issues, so I went back to working at a bar. Steve worked full-time as an installation artist for a major retailer during the day. I would stay home with the baby during the day if I wasn’t in class. When Steve arrived home, I would hand him the baby, give him a kiss and go to class or work. He would get up at 5:00 am, when I had only been asleep for a few hours, and go to work. We only saw each other on Sunday evenings.

Tired, overworked and completely exhausted by the baby. We found ourselves drifting apart. The winter she was born was brutal.  It was blistering cold and extremely snowy. We were way too broke to go anywhere or buy a new furnace. We were like trapped animals and most of the time, we weren’t even together. Our relationship was beginning to look like the grey Denver sky.

Finally, the dam broke. Through many painful conversations Steve admitted that he was questioning all of the choices he made in the last four years. He wasn’t sure if he was really in on this deal. He was young and scared and starting to shut down and act out. I spent hours crying and agonizing, feeling completely betrayed. When I was alone in my car I would scream at the top of my lungs, more than once drawing the attention of the people in cars next to me. I was on the verge of losing it completely.  But, in the end, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to our relationship.

His questioning led me to start questioning. This sparked conversation, which hadn’t really been happening much. It was very honest conversation, sometimes painfully so. But, in the end, it opened up doors between us that we didn’t know existed. All of the questioning led us back to each other. We wanted to be together, but we needed a way to bond.

It was during this excruciating time that I realized what was missing from our family. We had no centralized values. We aren’t religious nor do we have any significant culture in our family history from which we could draw upon. Instead we were just two regular white Americans living the standard vanilla life. Blech. We needed to coalesce around something meaningful.

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Enter the garden. The Barnum Park house has a pretty big back yard, which is common in Denver. When we first bought it, there was a lot of grass and two scrappy little flower beds. Our daughter was born the first winter in the house. We did nothing to the yard that year and instead focused on making the house safe for the baby. The second winter was our year of pain and questioning. We spent the third winter in the house looking out the French doors and fantasizing about what we could do to the yard.

Both of us avid readers, we spend much of that year reading. We were under the influence of Barbara Kingsolver, Michael Pollan and Tom Robbins. The combination caused us to have extreme erotic fantasies about the possibilities of vegetable propagation. We wanted to feed our family from the soil on our property like Barbara Kingsolver. We wanted to be manipulated by plants, propogating their genetics for our own selfish desires like Michal Pollan. And we wanted everything around us to arouse our senses and curiosities so that we could appreciate the unusual people and things in this world like Tom Robbins. Food was the missing base note from our perfume.

We had been making a weekly tradition out of going to the farmer’s market as a family. Our time at the market felt so right. There is this energy in the air at genuine farmers markets (not fluffy yuppie markets) that is healing. Everyone is smiling and appreciating the gorgeous food. There is music in the warm summer air. It is a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon.

Our daughter started working alongside us in the garden. She was a toddler and my relationship with her was ever more complex and challenging by the day. Our shared love of earth and food allowed me to enjoy her company and indulge her curiosities and it was a reminder that our relationship was one of constant effort, just like my marriage. I started to remember that, like with the garden, I had to put in as much love and hard work as possible with all of my relationships in order to reap the benefits that were sure to come later.

Between the books we read, our hard work as a family unit, and the downright addictive energetic vibrations of the farmers market, we had found our family’s value: food. Although food may seem like a tiny subject on which to base your family’s behaviors and beliefs, it actually offers a surprisingly broad lateralization of connections that have become a strong basis for our family values.

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Food started becoming a significant ritual in our family when we started going to the farmers market every week. There was a ceremonious preparation of the first meal after market. Everything was fresh and beautiful. We always brought home crusty breads and handmade pastas. There was never a plan at the market, we would just buy whatever we were inspired to buy and I would figure out a way to cook it.

Going to the farmers market was the best part of the summer that year. When the air chilled and the market ended, we couldn’t bear to slip back into darkened silence of winter. So we talked food. We plotted our master plans for the yard and garden the following summer. As we coordinated our first attempt at our agrarian dream it became clear that this was intensely thrilling to both of us. We found ourselves playing footsie or stroking hands as we looked out the windows and talked about the yard.

The process of planning the garden gave us the chance to appreciate what it was like to work with each other. We had never really planned or executed anything together before. I came to appreciate his process and the fact that, while he isn’t so great at describing his ideas, his finished product is always impressive.

As our passion and intensity for one another grew, so did our creativity. Steve’s ability to problem solve around issues in the house and garden was impressive, to say the least. He also began re-focusing his energy on his passion from college, designing and building furniture. Every piece he made was better than the last.

While Steve’s creativities blossomed in the yard and shop, mine blossomed in the kitchen. I always liked cooking and felt comfortable in the kitchen, but I had a very small arsenal of decent recipes from which I never strayed. Dinner was getting boring. Shopping the farmers market for whatever looked fresh and delicious gave me the push that I needed to try something new.  There were lucious ingredients with no recipes and I had to make them work.

I found that cooking in this way was a sensory thrill. I had to taste, touch and smell everything. More importantly, I had to trust myself. Spending my time bonding with the food we ate and understanding how meaningful it really was to me gave me confidence. It made me feel sexy and smart. It made me want to feed my husband in any way that he desired.

Together we worked hard and shared a dream and vision. Our daughter’s presence was woven tightly into the fabric of our relationship. My love for my husband and my daughter became something whole and truthful. I put effort into everything we did and stopped trying to control those I loved. We have continued to find greater joy in one another each day.

As an educator I know that I can take the amazing lessons taught to me by my family and use them to ensure that I work to foster strong relationships with every teacher and parent in my school. Patience, respect, and understanding are due to everyone in my life.

MomDay08

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~ by vegucationmama on September 14, 2013.

7 Responses to “Relationship Reflection”

  1. Very romantic and heart felt. You made me smile.

  2. I love your vegetable garden. I just lost my job and have spent the time starting one of my own. Yesterday I noticed that the first shoots are coming out. It was a moment of profound joy for me.

  3. I loved reading this! Your writing is like poetry. Thank you for being so open and sharing your family relationship. I can’t wait to read more from you in the coming weeks.

  4. […] satisfy me. As my husband and I negotiated our way through a hard time in our marriage, we found our way to common ground in a shared love and respect for food. We began the process of slowly eliminating most of the processed food in our home, including the […]

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