Sunday, April 02, 2006

Mr. Trillwing

In our little family, Mr. Trillwing sees himself as a "drain on the ticket." On the one hand, he feels a good deal of shame about this possibility, but on the other, he's willing to share this conclusion with just about anyone who inquires about our family. Such conversations usually play out in such a way that Mr. Trillwing gets to point out that I'm the smart one in the relationship and that he's just along for the ride.

Uh huh. Whatever. We do joke that someday we'll have stationery printed up that says "Trillwing, Ph.D., and Mr. Trillwing, G.E.D." But ees joke. Beeeeeg joke. After all, he has his high school diploma. ;)

Things you should know:

Mr. Trillwing is far, FAR more intelligent than I am. He's friggin' brilliant. His IQ, to borrow from a bumper sticker, could beat up my honors student IQ. I wish my mind were so nimble.

Mr. Trillwing is many orders of magnitude more productive than I am. As a writer, he's ahead of me by hundreds of pages--probably closer to a thousand by now. That's just in the time we've been together, and it doesn't count all the visual work he does on top of his writing.

Mr. Trillwing is the primary breadwinner for this family, earning several times what sad little grad student me earns each year. All his hard work and talent keep us afloat.

Mr. Trillwing is a damn fine dad.

Mr. Trillwing is an excellent life partner. I couldn't ask for anyone better.

The thing is, I have a damn hard time convincing him of these facts. Which is funny: he managed to convince me that I'm no longer the sad little excuse for an adolescent girl that I was in the eyes of my K-12 peers--a caricature of myself that I bought into for much of my life. Yet I can't convince him that he's no longer the guy he was 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

See, because of events in his childhood, Mr. Trillwing has developed a lot of buttons that shouldn't be pushed, lest I want to deal with the consequences for several days. I avoid pushing them, but bringing a baby into our lives, with the attendant sleep deprivation and constant distraction, has meant some of those buttons get pressed anyway. Mr. Trillwing sees his reactions--depression, frustration, a bit of anger--to this stress as his fault. When he feels these emotions, he believes they define him, as they might have done when he was younger. He mistakenly believes, I think, that if he was a "real" man he would be better able to control his emotions--that is, not express them.

If I had wanted to marry the Marlboro Man, I would have married the Marlboro Man. Instead, I chose Mr. Trillwing, and I'm thrilled--THRILLED--that such a sensitive, empathetic, talented, lovely man chose me. I only wish that my dissertation were done so that I wouldn't be such a big drain on the ticket.


ArticulateDad said...

If bets are being taking, I bet on the plumber... with two drains, one is sure to burst soon enough. ;)

I sometimes tell my wife, that I have too much respect for her judgement to think she would have married a failure. So, there you have it. He can't think you're so smart, if you'd have such poor judgement now can he? And since he thinks you're smart, well.... quod erat demonstratum.

By the way... I do have a GED. I only attended two years of high school (a military academy to boot). Started my bachelor's degree without a diploma, but was forced to get a GED in my third year of college (or they wouldn't let me continue).

I went on to start a Master's program without having graduated (transferring back a course, to receive my Bachelor's). At least I had my Master's in hand, when I started the PhD.

flossie said...

A lovely tribute. It's nice to see two partners so supportive of each other. I recognized the argument, "You're the smart one"/"No, *you're* the smart one!" from my own life. That's when you know you've got a keeper.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

This all sounds so familiar to me. Chris sometimes feels like I'm the one doing the Big Important Things, because I'm getting my PhD, while we still haven't found him teaching work and so he's at the Soul-Sucking Call Centre.

But, again, he's making many more times what I'm making, on top of the fact that he's the one who holds this household together (especially this semester, with my three grad courses/two TAing courses workload).

But he's starting to see things differently, beyond the understanding that I'd be dead from scurvy if he wasn't around. It also helps that we're on the road to getting him back into his field and out of the call centre. And we hung out with a group of grad students last night and he discovered he could hold his own in a discussion with them.

I think I owe Chris a similar tribute, sometime soon.