when the honeymoon is over.

Last week, I sat with a group of mamas who’ve walked with me and beside me over the past nine months since leaving ministry and entering into into full-time mama-hood.  Because when you spend just two hours a week with someone (or someones), that person enters into your life, and he or she sees the wholeness of who you are.  Collectively, you start to know each others stories, and week after week, like overlapping patterns on a wore and thread-bare quilt, there’s an interweaving of of our lives, experienced and shared and received together.

And it’s just altogether lovely.  

So last week, the mamas were asking me how I’ve been doing post-break-in, and I was honest: it’s still hard sometimes.  I still feel the weight of that day whenever I enter the front door and see the newly installed bars on our kitchen window, and the crowbar marks that noisily scraped our front door.  In my head, I know that the paranoia and anxiety have calmed and quelled (and will continue to do so), but the remnants of the day’s violation remain.  And I don’t like that – I don’t like it at all.

Mama Anne told the story of a sermon she heard once, about living in San Francisco – there exists a honeymoon period, in which which it’s all dreamy, all breezy, beautiful Cover Girl.  We’re excited that we get to walk more than we drive, and the loudness and the noise and the lights and the grit alights our insides.   We feel like we’re part of something bigger and greater than ourselves, and in the Beauty of this urban jungle, we claim a roaring, gripping sense of pride: I can live in The City, in an urban jungle, in mere 1000 square feet, because less is more – I mean, can’t you?  

Downtown San Francisco.  Photo cred: Wikipedia.
Downtown San Francisco. Photo cred: Wikipedia.

But then, like anyone who’s entered into marriage or started a new job or survived life with a baby after your partner goes back to work and the Meal Train Fairy stops dropping off piping hot dinners on your doorstep, the honeymoon is over.  Something happens and you question whether you ever really loved Her, and whether this marriage is really worth fighting for.

It becomes a matter fight or flight – so what are you going to choose?

Friends, I wish I could say we’ve chosen to fight.  I wish I could say we’re going to continue to enter into the grit and the grime, as we proclaim a zip code that’s not eight miles outside of the urban sprawl, but is in the thick of Living the Apparent San Francisco Dream.

But we’re not: we’ve chosen flight.

And here’s the thing: in my head, I know it’s the right choice for our sanity and well-being, for our family, for our future.  But I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost the battle.  I can’t help but feel like Suburbia won, like another Urban Dweller bites the dust because we weren’t able to cut it in The City.

And that is so lame.  

And so not true.

Because that is Pride and Envy and Arrogance rearing its ugly head into the portals of my mind again, making me think that I’ve somehow been cooler and sexier and better than those who haven’t chosen a particular zip code.

So Friendlies, let’s just clarify: I’m not cooler than you.  I still sport my maternity tank tops and wear yoga pants every other day.  I think that it’s hip to quote songs from the 90’s, and I think it’s really, really funny to have entire conversations and friendships based solely on sarcasm.  And that’s just weird.  I’m also not sexier than you.  The height of sexiness reached its peak about a week or two after the actual marriage honeymoon, when I’d worn all the new pieces of lingerie and decided that sweatpants were far tastier to wear as bedroom attire.  And finally, and with all sincerity, I’m not better than you.  And if I’ve given you this impression, well then, seventy times seven, I ask for your forgiveness.  Because no one should be made to feel like they’re less human than somebody else.

But all humor and tears and honesty aside, Pacifica, we’re excited to get to know you.  

Pacifica, CA.
Pacifica, CA.

Surf’s up, dude!

xo, c.

What about you?  Have you ever experienced the end of a honeymoon, or had to choose between flight or fight?  How did you respond?  

11 thoughts on “when the honeymoon is over.

  1. I’m excited for your move, Cara! Pacifica… the ocean, the foggy mornings (and afternoons), the small community. I think it’s a great move for you and your family. It’s also nice that it’s still close to San Fran, so you can get your city fix when you need to.

    I moved to SF 12 years ago, with dreams of a life where I’d read books in coffeehouses, dine with friends in great hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and exercise in GG Park. I thought I’d walk wherever I needed to go, shop in the corner market, and find a great community of other cool people like me. What I got was an apartment in the outer Richmond, a 45-minute commute (each way) to San Mateo to teach, and fighting the crowds for a parking spot at Safeway. I didn’t make many friends, and found myself lonelier in this great city with fantastic things to do than I was in the ‘burbs. After giving it a 2-year chance, I realized that it was time to head back home. So, I’m still a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, woman-about-town… AND (not but) I live in San Jose.

    1. YES. Bella, your words are exactly what I needed to hear. We really are excited, but sometimes I do get tripped up by the “buts” instead of the “ands.” I’d love to have you up there when we get settled – maybe a walk with a view? xo.

  2. The bay area is tough, its expensive, its competitive, its crowded. Its magical and interesting and alive here but its hella tough. . Being a student in SF is living the dream, you can wander around in bookstores and coffee shops and plan your own art exhibits. Working the daily grind here is a different reality altogether. Its my adopted home but I do find myself wondering if maybe I don’t need to go hard all the time, maybe I would be happier somewhere smaller and quieter? Happy move to Pacifica and really thats still bay area 😉

    1. YES. I resonate with so much of what you said here – I love it and am already (obviously) mourning the loss of sexy city life, but really, it’s not that sexy. And I think the HBH in particular really misses home being a quieter, more peaceful place, so the honeymoon’s been over for him for quite a while now. In reality, we’ll still be coming into the city a ton, but it’ll take me a little while to be okay with this new, different-kind-of-cool zip code. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

  3. I’m not a big city person, so I’ve never felt that people who choose to raise families in the city are cooler or better than me — it’s always been more of a curiosity thing for me: do they wish they had a back yard? How do you deal with getting a family’s worth of groceries home each week?
    But you must be feeling pretty conflicted about leaving the city based in all the apologies in this post. There are good things to be found about living almost anywhere, and I’m sure you’ll find them in Pacifica. And it’s not forever! You can always move back to SF someday.

    1. Yeah, I’m feeling a lot better today (about the move) than I did the day I wrote the post; I think much of the apologies in particular stemmed from the reactions I’d received that morning. But nothing is forever, and I do feel like it’s going to be a better long-term fit for our family, so I’m embracing and mourning the change. It’ll be good. 🙂

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

  4. Congrats on the upcoming move! I know you’re ambivalent about it, but it is waaaaay easier to raise kids in the ‘burbs than in a place where you have to drive around for blocks looking for parking. Think of all the free time you’ll have now!

    I do understand your sadness, though — I never lived in the city myself, but my hubby did when we were dating/engaged, and it was super-fun to hang out there and go to quirky neighborhoods and cool restaurants and the like. But the ‘burbs are so much more cozy, and somehow that works for motherhood. You’ll be great!

    1. You get it! Thanks for understanding the tension, Ginny! Indeed, we do think it’s going to be best for our family, even if the transition is a little hard (as transitions always are, in my opinion). And truthfully, we’re 10 minutes outside of the city, so I can get my quirky and cool fix rather regularly. Thanks for the encouragement!

      Cara Meredith

      be, mama. be. carameredith.com

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