“You know, I’m her third husband,” I heard my husband joke with my mother last summer when she was visiting. “Third husband?” my mother queried, raising an eyebrow. At first I thought he meant because we got married three times: first was the Vegas wedding when we moved to the US, then went home to Australia for a ‘proper’ wedding with the formal dress and then to Malaysia for my extended family. “First comes the children, then her writing and then me,” he continued. Everyone laughed but I took the statement to heart and started delving deeper into why my sweet, sweet FIRST husband felt this way.
We had a whirlwind romance. I had met him when we were both a couple of Aussies working in Singapore. We had one date and we spent practically every single day together after that. Three months into the relationship, he mentioned something about marriage and having kids which threw me completely. We then made a surprise trip home to Australia to visit our parents over Christmas. My parents liked him and I remembered my mum saying “You’d have beautiful kids.” I laughed and said that we’d only just met so don’t jump the gun. But here we are, expats in America and three kids later (and she was right – they are beautiful).
For the first few years, we traveled around the US for his work. I on the other hand, was the trailing spouse or as I had described it, ‘his luggage’. I wasn’t able to work because of visa issues so I went from being an entrepreneur to being a housewife. It was terribly lonely being in your twenties in a new country without friends. His projects were sporadic so we were always temporarily visiting but never living anywhere. On weekends, we’d travel around and explore the cities we were in. It was just the two of us together, one solitary unit and we were so close.
In 2004, we moved to Dallas. Simultaneous to the move, our visa status changed and I started freelance writing for the Dallas Morning News and DMagazine. Then we had our first child, Pikelet who turned out to be an excellent traveler and we continued to live in hotels for my husband’s projects while keeping Dallas as a base. Where once, my hand was free to hold his, it was now replaced with a diaper bag, stroller or carrying the baby. When our second child arrived, Dallas became a more permanent home. We hardly traveled and life morphed into naps, Little Gym, then preschool, Little League and so forth. Now with three boys under the same roof, our lives are a steady of rotation of meals, activities and school. We are a bigger unit with three active moving parts that take up all our time. Whatever happened to US?
Last summer when I heard my husband joking about being the third husband, I had just been diagnosed with a tumor. I stopped writing. spent a lot of time reflecting on our beautiful, chaotic life. The words we exchanged at the altar played over and over in my mind. Words like “in sickness and in health” has never rung truer. My husband was stretched so thin being my caretaker as well as looking after kids, working a full-time job and keeping all the other parts of our lives together. He was strong and ever loving through the worst of it. Somehow through this thing called life, ‘us’ faded to the background. So this year, as I recover, my New Year’s resolution is simple. I’m going back to our vows “to love and to cherish” and I’m making that first husband of mine, a priority.
Happy New Year! What is your New Year’s resolution?