I was out to dinner with my wife, Mel.
We were sitting next to each other at a booth. We’d left our three kids with some friends, and we were waiting for some gourmet burgers.
In Mel’s hand was her phone. She’d been complaining about not having enough memory to take more photos, and somehow that resulted in us looking through her apps and trying to figure out what needed to go, and what could stay.
This is what we do on dates…
She showed me some apps that she uses regularly. One for our family budget, a few games for our kids when they are fussy at the doctor’s office, and then she showed me an app she used to help manage her body.
“Wait… you use a period tracker?” I said.
Mel smiled and nodded as if it were a fabulous invention.
“My period tracker is the app I use the most. The more info I put into it, the more accurate it is.”
She opened the app, and it had a range of dates, listing when she would be ovulating, and when she would most likely begin her period. She talked about the app as if it were a close friend that knew her body better then she did. Better than I did. “I’ve been using it for almost a year, and it’s never wrong. NEVER! It keeps me from having surprises.”
She raised her eyebrows, and I sat there, with a half grin, not sure what to say.
Mel and I have been married for over ten years. We have three children.
Together, we have moved from Utah to Minnesota, and now we live in Oregon. I can’t think of a significant moment in my life where Mel wasn’t involved. I smile when I see her, and I am sad when she is away.
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I discuss all elements of my life with her, and I always assumed that I knew her, inside and out, and yet, with everything we have shared, I had no idea that her body was so freaking complicated that she needed an app to help predict it’s activities.
“How do you live with this?” I asked.
Mel scoffed at me. Drew her head back a little, not sure what to make of my question. “Live with what?” she said.
“Your body,” I said, “is just so complicated. Never in my life have I considered needing an app or a calendar or anything to help me keep track of my body. It just does its thing with few surprises. I feed it when it’s hungry. When I need to go to the restroom, I go. I have that calorie counting app, and I use that to manage my weight, but without it, I don’t think I’d have any surprises…”
Mel stopped me mid-sentence. “You are making me feel weird,” she said.
I put my hands up. “No! It’s not that. I just…”
I thought about my next words carefully. It’s not that I thought she was strange for using a period tracker. I couldn’t believe that I’d lived with a woman this long, and never realized just how complicated her body was.
This isn’t to say that I don’t love her body. I look at her and get chills. I still do, even after ten years. I’ve watched her give birth to my children, care for them, and nurse them. Everything about her actions, her hands, her smile, is terrific to me.
And yet, even though I admire her, and love her, and have spent years with her, and plan to spend many more years with her, I am still confused and surprised by her. It’s in moments like this that I realize how much I don’t know about the woman I love.
“You are not weird,” I said. “I just… I had no idea. I’m more surprised that I had no idea. I feel like I know you well, but clearly, there is more to you than I realized. More to your life. Your struggles. I’m just not sure what to make of that.”
“I don’t know if there’s that much to make of it,” she said. “It’s just my body. I live with it.”
We talked about a few other things, looked at a few more apps, even deleted a few. The whole time, I felt like I had more questions. I wondered if there was more to her that I didn’t know and didn’t understand.
But ultimately, I realized that there was. There must be. My wife is sweet and wonderful, but she is complicated. I suppose all people are. And I had to assume that I would never, really, fully understand her body. And perhaps there are parts of her body I don’t want to know about.
All three times she gave birth, it was via C-section, and I couldn’t look. I just didn’t think I could handle it. I didn’t want to see what was going on inside her body. And I have to assume that there are parts of my body that she will never really want to know about. Ultimately, I suppose this is part of her mystery… I often look away.
As much as I love my wife, I can think of few things as icky as a period. And I have to assume that she has a nice list of icky things about me, and my body. Perhaps it’s best just not to know.
We paid our check, loaded in our van, and went to pick up our kids. As we drove down Main Street I asked, “Is there anything else I should know about you?”
“I think you know it all,” Mel said.
“I mean your body. Is there anything else I should know?”
Mel smiled, laughed, and shrugged. Then she winked at me as if she has more secrets, but I wasn’t allowed to know about them.
I let out a breath, “Perhaps I don’t want to know.”
Mel twisted her lip to the side and nodded.
When he’s not saying insane things to his kid, Clint Edwards’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post. He’s the author of two books on parenting.
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