My Tiara

The Next Family

By: Ann Brown

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I am totally going to be nicer to my husband. And not just because I think I am getting the flu and I’ll need his help when I barf.

I was a bitch for a long time. A wonderfully long time. When the kids were little, I was pissed off at him a lot, mostly because I was so fucking tired.

And, to be fair, I have been much nicer to Robin since the kids have grown up but I still feel bad that it took me so long to change. And although our family motto is, “the important thing is that you feel bad”, I knew that the only way to feel better is to do better.

God, I wish there were another way.

Robin and I used to compete for the title of My Life Is Harder Than Yours. I have to admit that some days back then when I had a particularly easy day with the kids, I was loathe to admit it to Robin because then…..well, then he would win. That’s pretty fucked up, but, sadly, it’s true. We each needed to be validated for what we were doing, to be seen by the other as the martyr; it was a years-long standoff. I wonder if, even now, when Robin has spent the weekend fishing and comes home to find me working at the computer or cleaning the house, he doesn’t wax as poetic about how wonderful his day was, lest I resent it. Because I know that I have underdescribed a facial or lunch with my friends when Robin has had a hard day at work. I know. I know this is twisted. And I already said I am going to work on it.

It’s really hard to let go of the martyr tiara. I love how it makes me feel- so hard-working, so munificent, even, I daresay, a little bit thinner around the midsection. I can act the hell out of the role, too. Quiet, long-suffering sighs. A slight wipe of my damp brow. A little dried blood on the tip of my thumb, as if I didn’t have time to attend to my own injuries, so engrossed was I in raising our children. I am a rockin’ martyr.

But so was Robin. He managed to grow huge, excruciating kidney stones that required his hospitalization, just to win points.

And eventually, all that was left was the stark truth that- both of us- work hard. And we both deserved the tiara.

But I keep it in the back of my closet. It’s waiting there, waiting for the competition between us over whose death was the hardest.

ANN BROWN

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