So, my wife turns 30 this month…and she’s having a tough time. I’m turning 30 early next year too, and I have no problems with it.
A bit of background: my wife (Shaeesta) moved to Canada with her family when she was seven years old, from Fiji. They lived on a farm in a simple house there, and have lived very modestly here. She didn’t know a word of English when their plane landed in Calgary, in the middle of winter (this after leaving Fiji in their summer…talk about a rude awakening). Her upbringing was in a Suni Muslim household, which is considered the more moderate of the cultural side of the religion. Her father was fairly strict on the kids, and their activities. Because of this, and economics, their freedoms were pretty much restricted to the household. Going to college represented a pretty significant achievement in her family. Amazingly, six of her father’s eight children are college or university graduates. The other two are doing very well for themselves, despite having not yet graduated post secondary. Shai’s dad left school to go to work in the 8th grade, when his father died. She graduated with honors from BCIT, and has built herself a nice resume with a proven track record in business development. All said, at 29, she’s done very well for herself, all things considered.
I figured out she was having a tough time with turning 30 by piecing together a complex jigsaw puzzle of clues. I wasn’t born yesterday…
The first clue came a couple of weeks ago. You see, Shai just started a new sales job, and part of the job requirements was that she had to drive the company vehicle…a Dodge Caravan. This also meant she had to give up her sexy little Volkswagen Jetta 1.8 Turbo. My first thought was, “Great! Write the cheque for the lease buyout, and dump the money pit!”
She didn’t have a first thought, only tears. She’s officially driving a family vehicle now, and it’s not even her own choice. There is nothing sexy about the Dodge Caravan. It seats 22, turn slower than a Fast Ferry, has a terrible sound system, and, worst of all, no sunroof. Personally, I don’t get it…a car is a car, and if it is free to use, even better. Heck, if a company were to pay me to drive their car, I’d jump all over that! But, that’s a logical thought, you see. As it turns out, I’m the Vulcan in the relationship…and she’s the overemotional 29-going-on-30-wife-with-two-kids. I simply can’t relate.
The second clue: she was telling me about a dinner she had with her younger sister and their friend last month. Her sister is 24, and her friend is actually 30 already. Both, however, are single good-looking women whom date casually. She tells me how she sat through the conversations about their dates, sex lives, and life troubles (one is debating moving out of her parent’s house, but doesn’t want to give up all the free income that comes with living without expenses, and the other one is hung up on a guy who apparently has to call home to Mom everyday to help himself get dressed). She tells me that after spending an evening with these two, SHE feels old. How the hell does that work? Shai and I were married at 23, and had our first blessing (our boy) at 25. We now have two healthy, beautiful children: Michael Jr. is now four years old, and our gorgeous baby girl, Aaliyah, is 15 months old. They are both the joys of our lives. Right now, we don’t plan on having any more (God, I hope not). I guess I have a hard time understanding how my wife feels old when she’s keeping company with two single girls whom aspire to have what she has, but are both light-years away from achieving it!
That said, given the above two clues, I still didn’t get it. Finally, this weekend, she comes clean with me: “I feel old.”
“Well you should, you’re turning 30 next month”, I tell her. Note to all other husbands faced with this same statement: never respond by saying, “Well, you should…”
“You don’t understand…I’m having trouble with turning 30.” Huh? “I’m going through a midlife crisis YOU MORON!”
Oh. Now I get it…the clues all add up.
I’m one of those types of people that don’t live with any regrets, and believe everything happens for a reason. I’ve always done what I want, and have given life everything I have. I had a lot of freedom to do whatever I wanted growing up. I traveled and partied my fare share before attending BCIT. I’ve had my fun.
Before my first semester of college, I moved to Winnipeg in the summer to sell books door-to-door. I met my wife the first week back from the book field, in line to go to orientation at BCIT. After 80+ hours a week for four months selling books, I was chomping at the bit to meet girls. I actually had a mental list of girls I wanted to “meet” in the first month of school. My wife was right at the top of that list. I’ve always been attracted to exotic, ethnic girls. When I spotted this cracking Fijian beauty with brown eyes as big as saucers, I had to meet her. If she hadn’t shown mutual interest, I’m sure I would have been issued a restraining order.
I never got around to the rest of my list- lucky for them.
Shai was also brave enough to venture into the land of the white man, and stick with it. I remember my first dinner at her house. As soon as we sat down to eat, her father opened the conversation by telling Shai she would be flying to Australia at the end of the school year, to meet a “good Muslim husband”. I had some work to do. Luckily, my future Mother in Law liked this pasty white guy, and was able to help her husband see past religious, cultural, and ethnic differences. Likewise, Shai was able to charm my old Irish redneck father into the idea of marriage outside the catholic faith. If anyone needs tips on how to pull of an Irish-Catholic-Fijian-Muslim wedding, I have all the answers.
Now well into our sixth year of marriage, we seem to be doing OK. We see lots of our married friends splitting-up after only a couple of years, a few with young children in the mix. We’ve never approached marital problems to the extent that we’d even consider counseling, much less a break. Our kids seem well adjusted, for the most part. A little high energy, and both fairly high tempered (I don’t know where they get the short fuse), but wonderful kids. I’m not boasting, but my kids are far superior to my friends’ kids. They’re better looking, much cuter, and they do better tricks. The boy has a hell of a slap shot. He can skate like the wind, too…although he only pushes with one foot. He can’t go right (we’re working on that). Aaliyah’s already showing signs of becoming the next Mia Hamm. Either that, or she’ll just smile and get anything she wants from any sucker in life. She’s stunningly beautiful.
Yep, our kids’ rock- and they rock because they have such a great Mum. This becomes evident when she has to leave town for a couple of days. She’ll leave the house, pristine and immaculate, and come back to the aftermath of Hurricane Rebecca. Cherrios and underwear are strewn about. Socks are hanging off the lamp shades. By this time, the boy has learned a new four-letter word or three, and Aaliyah won’t stop poking herself in the eye with her spoon. Being the primary care giver as a father can be summed up in two words: functional survival.
My biggest problem is that I am an oblivious numbskull. I have missed Shai’s birthday pretty much every year we’ve known each other. I completely bottled the marriage proposal. I play soccer four times a week in the season, and mountain bike four times a week in the off-season, then ask her why she doesn’t take up any hobbies. So, I guess when she tells me she’s going through a mid-life crisis, it scares the bejesus out of me. Has she been coming to my games more often recently to check out the young guys on our Cat squad? We have a good-looking crop of 22-year-old Langley guys there. Is she going to pillates twice a week for herself, for me, or for some guy named Sven? The fact is, Shai doesn’t really need to go to pillates…she looks great, regardless of being a mother of two turning 30 in a month. Age and babies haven’t caught up to her. Now that she’s working to get her 21-year old body back, I’m intimidated. Really, it won’t take much, and it sure isn’t taking long. Great hair can only get me so far.
So, I guess this article is really for her: I get it now, Honey. You need to know the kids and I love you to death, and need you more than fish need water. This may be cliché, but the best part of our lives is only just beginning. We’ve only just begun. You complete me, you’re the wind beneath my wings, akhunamatata, and don’t disturb this groove. You’re an incredible wife, mother, daughter, and role model. Our lives revolve around you. You’re a great person who’s made great accomplishments and even greater influences.
Now, please don’t leave me for a 22-year old stud- Hades and his sister Beelzebub will have my head planted on a stake in the front lawn before you can say, “Take me, Sven!”