Today's photo. It was very bold. It kind of scared me. Squirrels always make me nervous. They're so twitchy.
This morning a memory popped into my head, and I spent the day wondering why. (At least I didn't spend the day going over and over how awful it felt. I'm happy that I'm not so attached to the emotions around past events as I used to be.)
When I was pregnant with my daughter (after a couple of years of angry haranguing from my ex about how it was time I had children for him) I was excited about being pregnant. I'd had a miscarriage at 16 weeks the year before, so I was always a little on edge, hoping she was okay. It had been a rough pregnancy at the beginning, with four solid months of throwing up constantly, but I felt great once the morning sickness passed. I was very much looking forward to meeting her, but as you can imagine, was very nervous about the actual birth. (As it turns out, I was right to worry. It hurt and was hard work, but worth it in the end. I'd do it again. Well, I did, when I had my son.)
My ex didn't exactly coddle me through the pregnancy. Far from it, but he was ecstatic about the baby and pretty much made my life a living hell of what I could and couldn't do. He'd freak out if I ate a piece of sushi, but had no problem insisting that I wade through raw sewage to reset the ejector pump in the basement. (He never did that the few times it went out. He was always "too busy" and got angry with me whenever I suggested it was his turn.) He also saw no need to help with groceries or carry heavy things or climb ladders to reach light fixtures on the 11' ceiling. (He'd become angry when I asked because I knew he was afraid of heights, and how dare I ask. So I'd go get the ladder from the basement, carry it up and do it myself, while he shouted at me not to fall and hurt the baby.) He was also pretty put out when I wasn't feeling up to preparing the elaborate meals I usually made every night, and he had to make dinner for the both of us. Anyway, I digress. Let's just say, I'm lucky I come from strong redneck stock, because I got exactly zero leeway through that (or my son's) pregnancy.
But, even so, I was really looking forward to meeting my daughter and excited about the future. An acquaintance, a few years older than me, had a locket that she wore all the time. I asked her about it once, years before, and she told me her husband had given it to her upon the birth of their first child. She carried the pictures of her children in it and rarely took it off. I thought that I'd really like something that I could wear. I wear very little jewelry, and the few pieces that I do wear are meaningful to me. I rarely buy my own. Most are gifts or inherited from family. Nothing is really expensive.
So I told my ex about it, and how much I would love something from him that I could keep. Something inexpensive, like a silver necklace with my daughter's birthstone. Well under $100. He didn't even hesitate. He told me "the baby is your present." I explained it would just be something I'd enjoy and would mean a lot to me. He told me again that I didn't need anything, and that he wasn't going to get me anything.
I could have bought it myself. It didn't cost a lot of money. It's just that I'd really have treasured something like that given to me by my then-husband and father of my child. So, I was sad, but, as always, I acknowledged to myself that he was right, and that I didn't really need it, and let it go. And no, he didn't get me anything. Maybe flowers from the hospital gift shop.
So why did that particular memory come to me now? I realized it's because I've been spending time thinking about what I'll look for in a man, whether just casual dating or a monogamous relationship. And I couldn't at first put my finger on it, except to say, "not that."
Now I know what it is that was lacking in him that I want in future relationships. Generosity of spirit. I don't care that much about money or nice things or fancy dinners. I mean, I like all of those things, but those are just things. I want someone who, upon learning about something that would make me happy (and I try very hard not to demand unreasonable things), would be thrilled to be able to do something like that. It's definitely something I would do for someone.
I've had to work long and hard to realize it's okay to expect something like that from a romantic partner. I don't have to tell myself, "No, he's right, you don't need that. Quit your self-pitying whining." I don't have to justify it. I can just want someone who, like me, would understand and want to see me happy, just I would want the same for him.
So, that goes on my list. "Generosity of Spirit." Very near the top and non-negotiable. Now that I've written it down, it has to happen. Right?