Andrew is gone most of the day, and his absence ignites the tinder that has been building. It’s the energy not used—my energy—put aside in high, neatly stacked bundles while I was consumed by mothering and home keeping and more mothering. By the time he arrives home the flames are leaping, and he walks through the door completely oblivious to the reaching tongues of flame, each with something to say, each armed with searing heat.
I won’t say it’s fair, because he is a most considerate husband. Nor will I say that it’s his responsibility to put out the fire. But I will say that it is easy to be blind to subtle inequities in a partner relationship if no one is talking about it. That’s my fault. The trouble often is that I am not even aware that there are piles and piles of brush eager for the burning until it’s too late. I absorb so much that often I don’t realize I’ve reached my saturation point. Then my anger settles as a tiny innocent spark on my own pile of kindling, and here comes the fire.
So we stand at the edges of my anger, eyebrows singed, and words are useless, though we try. There’s a whole thicket of issues–my need to pursue my work and happiness, my need for freedom, and the fact that his work is inextricably linked to providing for his family, not to his joy. There are no clear cut lines here, no blame to be meted out, and we have to hack through the thicket, we have to gather the dried brush, the dead limbs, the fire food, we have to burn it carefully, working together to make sure the fire warms us, not singes us. It is a difficult task.
I must remain conscious of my needs. And as a mother to five children, yes, five, I must have freedom. I must escape the lines of hearth and home that hold me, I must drop the harness, let the wagon slip, because I am not just mother, I am the pony wild. Spring is nearing, and I hunger for the taste of wild clover.