The Sidelined Wife(9)

By: Jennifer Peel

But what happens to those first wives, the first string, the ones who made their teams winners and held it all together, who came through with miraculous saves in the fourth quarter all for their spouse’s glory and honor? The ones who never failed to score and make it all count? I’ll tell you what happens. We get tired, and crow’s feet start to appear. Our firm abs get stretchmarks from bearing their children, and it never seems to be the same no matter how many crunches you do. Our bathroom counters start being lined with anti-wrinkle and anti-aging cream, anything to turn back the clock on the bodies we’ve tried so hard to maintain for them even though we never had the time to put ourselves first.

They think we don’t notice the little glances that linger longer on the younger women that pass by these men we’ve pledged our all to. The ones that we’ve let gracefully age, and even found their gray hair attractive and took pride in their laugh lines because those lines reminded us that we played a part in their happiness.

For all our effort and sacrifice, we get sidelined just when it starts getting really good. When that career he spent all his time on starts paying off and your children are older and don’t need constant attention. That place where you think you can get back to the two of you and start living out your dreams of traveling and maybe even making love all night long like you used to when it was all new.

But before you know it, the second string is called in and you’ve been taken out of the game. You don’t even know why, other than the new lineup is much younger and they think the moon and the sun rise in the pig’s pants. The new string only sees a paycheck. They don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears of the woman behind the man that got him there in the first place. They will never know what real love is, or what they destroyed. They may score some points, but they will never be champions, not of him or in life. But maybe someday, when gravity and time begin to make their appearance, they too will learn what it’s like to live life on the sidelines.

For me, I’m choosing to live by my own game plan now. I’m more than someone’s wife. I am me.

I wiped the tears away each time I read over it, thinking I should delete it. But some voice called deep inside and said I should tell the truth. That it would set me free. And it’s not like anyone would ever read it. It felt like someone besides me clicked Publish.

I set my laptop aside and lay against my pillow. In the morning, I would probably take the whole site down. The Happy Higgins blog would be no more. I wasn’t sure it was ever true. But from here on out, I was living the truth. Cody and I would be happy. We didn’t need Neil for that. We never did.

Chapter Five

I woke up with a purpose. Not exactly sure what it was yet, but it was the best I’d felt in a long while. My first thought was, what does Samantha like to do? I thought that was a good start.

It was the last week of summer vacation and I didn’t have to go into the office right away. Cody was riding to practice with a friend this morning even though that made me ill. Why was I letting another teenager drive my teenager? Something about having to learn to let go. What I really wanted to do was wrap my arms around him and keep him safe at home. That was a no-go with him.

The question still lingered. What did I like? What did I want to do? This shouldn’t be such a hard question, but my life had revolved around all the things Neil liked to do. He was more of a quiet homebody that enjoyed things like searching out his ancestors and writing their histories. He thought I loved being involved, and for a while it was interesting, but I wanted to catch a Cubs game once in a while or take a dinner cruise down the river. I wanted to take Cody camping, but that was too much nature for Neil. He would have rather watched National Geographic. Sometimes he was too smart for our own good. The doctor wanted to know everything, but he forgot how to live in the process. I had too.

It had been a fight to get him to agree to let Cody play football. He found it barbaric. He’d had to do an autopsy on a kid that died on the field several years ago, so I could understand his concern, but Cody loved the sport. I did too. Watching him on the field filled me with great pride. Reed was right, Cody had an arm on him and he was a strategic thinker. He was on the varsity team this year, but not as starting quarterback like he was last year for the freshman team. He was disappointed, but the starting quarterback was a senior and he was good. Cody would have his day eventually.

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