Not long ago, Andy told me he wanted to run for local political office and I cringed. When we married we became a pair. A dynamic duo. Decisions that Andy makes impact me and decisions I make impact him. For better. For worse. When Andy told me he wanted to run for the position, I felt bad for him and I felt bad for myself.
I crafted a quick list of reasons why Andy should not make this decision which started with considerable time away from the family and ended with being in the public eye....with me. I felt like he should know better because he knows me. Apparently not. I have vivid memories of being a kid and my mom telling me, "Don't do that! Don't say that!" Of course, most moms say something like this to their child at some point. Kids have no filter and are naturally curious. They make a little too loud observations about others, they wear funny outfits, and pick their noses in public. Somewhere along the way, kids learn that they aren't to ask a stranger why they have a funky eye, no longer wear mismatched socks, or clothes backwards or pick their nose in public. Somewhere along the way we learn to follow the rules and stop being weird.
The challenge with me is that I can't always follow the rules, I am weird, and I'm an extrovert. This makes for a dangerous trifecta. I learned in college that these characteristics made those around me nervous. I was fun at a party, and the entertainment during a study session, but my friends hoped I had to go home for the weekend when their families came to visit. Nobody wanted me at dinner with grandma. Same went for my boyfriends. Looking back, I give them some serious credit for introducing me to their parents. You just never knew what I was going to say. At a time when someone was looking for choice reinforcement from a parent, presenting me as the love prospect was a bit like playing with fire.
The Mom: "We're Catholic. Would you like to come to church with us tomorrow?"
Normal Person: "That sounds great. What time should I be ready? Can I bring anything for the coffee hour?
Me: "I was raised a Catholic but I can no longer follow a religion that doesn't support gays and harbors pedophiles.
The Dad: "Wow! So, you go to an all girls' college, huh? What do you study?"
Normal Person: "I sure do! We have a bunch of fun there! I'm taking all the foundation building courses so that I can get a good job when I graduate!"
Me: "Well, right now I'm taking a women studies course and am reading the book, Transforming a Rape Culture. It's a collection of essays examining a society that daily demeans and circumscribes women with the threat of rape. I'm really questioning patriarchy. Next up is The Bell Jar!"
Andy made a bold move the day he invited me to fly to Minnesota over Christmas break. His parents never even had the chance for a toe dipper moment with me over dinner or coffee. I moved right in for the week. Me, my feminist attitude, profanity and all. Sweet, wholesome Andy brought home a bad girl. I didn't want to talk about crafting or how my studies would lead me to an impressive career of helping others. I couldn't talk about summers at the country club or church camp. I was rough around the edges. I went home after that break but I never left their family. Over time, Andy's family has acclimated to my weirdness, my crassness, and my diarrhea of the mouth. Plus, my edges are a little more polished and I've proved that I am able, in most situations, to behave. You can even ask my college friends! I've had a nice conversation with a grandma or two and look! I hold down a job and they let me educate people! Oh, and I have children. I teach them values and morals. (They might not be yours but they are right for us.)
I feel comfortable with myself. I have figured out the right mix of Weirdo and Normal Person- that is in my private life. Andy and I have a nice groove that not everybody understands and frankly, I don't care if they do. Or, I didn't until now. Whether or not we like it, we are an extension of our loved ones. Andy is often in a public sphere (remember 20 under 40) and I have been able to hide in the shadows, at home, on mom duty, or surrounded by my friends- my amazing non-judgmental friends. It works really well. He's out shaking hands and I'm underwear-less, in my PJ's, sending dirty joke text messages.
When Andy told me he wanted to run for public office, he didn't ask me if I was ready to do this with him. Yet, I asked him if he was ready to do this with me. I don't wear pearls. I don't go to church. I tried to read his letter in the paper but I got side tracked because one of the kids farted and that was more entertaining. I have a semi-public persona that I share on social media. I express, what can be considered, very specific political beliefs. I swear. People send me links about articles of phallic figures found in nature because when they saw it, "they thought of me." When he first started his campaign, I told Andy he couldn't include photos of me on his website. He thought I was crazy. As election time nears, he has asked me not to tag him in any of my posts. Beats me what is incriminating about a cat dressed as a cowboy, but I oblige.
Andy is apple pie. He is red, white, and blue. He is hard working and loves supporting the community. I am a sour cherry tart. I am black and blue. I like to read books in my PJ's and I live in a community. Don't judge a book by its cover and please don't judge a candidate by his wife.