For eighteen years I have wondered how my parents marriage still exist. They use to fight constantly about the most ridiculous things like made up conversations about girlfriends and boyfriends they had on the side. My mom use to yell and say things like my dad does not care for her and she’s going to leave him and watch him not even fight for her. My dad just sat there silent as if the arguments weren’t even worth his time. So ultimately my mom would argue by herself to herself. Growing up and seeing an increasing number of failing marriages that led to divorce, I often advised my parents to follow the same step. “Tubieramos mas felices” (we would be happier) I would say.
But today after 18 years I notice something different. We had gotten back from food shopping and a walmart stop and were all sitting in the living room. Like usual, I automatically put my headphones on, but I realized that a conversation with her mother got too far when my mom stormed to the room and slammed the door in a way that I thought was impossible. Like her, I storm out too and no matter how hard I tried I could never get the door to slam as loud as she did. A couple minutes later I went to the bedroom and found her just laying there. I was surprised that no tears we falling onto her cheeks. I kissed her check two or three times and started calling her. “Mami” No reply. “Mami!” No reply. I noticed her eyes opening and rolling back as I called her name. So I did what any eighteen year old would do and used my fingers to open her eyes myself. But she just kept on opening and closing her eyes. I was paranoid and started screaming her name louder. Still no reply.
Shortly after my dad walks in and he tells me that she gets like that when she is angry. Paralyzed and silent. I have never seen her like this before. Maybe all the times we got into arguments she just got upset and that’s why her tears fled. But now that she was the daughter, she reciprocated the same emotion I do to her to her mom. Anger. My dad knew exactly what to do to make her smile. He knew where all her tickle spots were which surprised me because I believed my mother was not ticklish. All my life I tried to make her smile through a tickle but I gave up because I thought it was impossible. But it was second nature to my dad as my mother buried her face into a pillow so that we wouldn’t see her smile.
In this moment I realized that their marriage was no where close to over. My dad knew exactly how to make my mom feel better in ways I didn’t even know how. And it warmed my heart so much. I failed to notice all the love in their arguments. That was when I realized that most of the arguments I thought I saw were actually them playing around. It is just that they play around with straight faces. From the outside looking in this feels very weird, but to them, it is something that they do. Turns out the love and story of my parents has not ended. I was just looking the wrong direction and couldn’t find it.