The Polidays (Part V)


It was New Years Day. Papa Bear and I were both feeling raw. He’d called me the night before at midnight, and we’d talked and said our “I love you’s”.  Now we were sitting with hot cups of coffee, watching the snow fall. Immersed in love, but nerves all a-jangle.

“I had a good talk with The Wifey,” he said.

“Oh?” I asked.

“I really wanted to be with you last night. She could tell I wasn’t happy. I hate that I wasn’t with you on a night that means so much to you.”

“The Wifey says I should take what is offered to me, and be happy,” I said tentatively.

“Yes,” he said, “and while that’s good advice, she needs to do that too. After all, I’m the one doing the offering–or ought to be.”

For the first time I sensed the level of his frustration. He was pissed.

“I’m so sorry I wasn’t with you last night. New Years has never been important to The Wifey and me. We never go out, we never stay up until midnight or kiss when the ball drops. It’s never been a thing. But I know it was important to you, and I wanted more than anything to be there. And if I had been where I am now, three weeks ago, I would have said ‘Too bad, I’m spending New Years at Baby Bear’s, you can either come, or stay home and have a good night with your folks.'”

“. . .And where are you now, exactly?” I ventured, tentatively.

“That in all of this, I have been feeling pulled between the two of you, when what really should tip the scales or make the difference, is what I want. She needs too understand that I need you. That our relationship is important. But its my fault because I’ve spent the past 20+ years of marriage ignoring my needs in favor of hers, to the point where she thought that my wants and hers were the same. I told her that she needs to adjust to the fact that my life no longer just revolves around her–I also orbit you. So I need to be much clearer about that. Sometimes what I need is a quiet night at home with The Wifey. Sometimes it’s snuggling you on the couch and watching a movie, and sometimes it’s to go out with you and do something crazy–like sky-diving. To her credit, she was pretty broken up when I told her I’d spent my life bending to her. She had no idea I felt that way.”

I nodded.

“As far as the hierarchical model–primary, secondary, etc–there are some ways in which you can’t be primary right now. I want, so much, for our families to be totally blended, but its just not possible at this time.”

“What do you mean by ‘blended’?”

“I mean, I can help you out financially, but I can’t support you as much as I would like to because I have a mortgage and car payments and credit card bills. I can spend part of the holidays with you and your family, and we can all hang out together and love each other, but when we go visit The Wifey’s family I can’t take you with me. I can’t spend three nights a week at your place right now, and you can’t spend half your time at mine.”

I blinked at him, stunned. “Papa Bear. Did I ever give you the impression that that’s what I wanted?”

“No. It’s what I wanted.”

“We have talked, and dreamed, about living on the same street in a few years, me splitting my time between the two homes once my kids move out, and hand-fasting ceremonies, but all of that is years and years away. I don’t expect or need that to be happy right now.I see us as an extended family. When I said it wasn’t fair, I never meant that I wanted things to be equal. What I meant, is that, if The Wifey and I have differing preferences on something, you choose whoever its more important to, or whoever needs you more.”

“I know, Baby Bear. And as painful as this entire thing has been, it was kind of the catalyst in me realizing that I can’t just stay in my old patterns of doing whatever The Wifey wants. We actually both think its a good thing–she said if I had continued that way, I probably would have had a mid-life crisis in a few years from feeling so resentful of always putting myself last.”

“What else did she say?”

“That, right now, there are some ways in which you can’t be primary. But in the ways that matter…you already are.”

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