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December 03, 2009

Transgressions: A Suburban Mom's Open Letter to Tiger Woods

Somewhere between pregnancy two and four, I became a news junkie.  But obsessively following headlines sometimes gets to me (though maybe it's just pregnancy hormones), as my open letter to Tiger Woods shows.

Dear Tiger,

This morning as I shuttled my children to school, stocked up the refrigerator at Costco, shopped for holiday gifts for my in-laws, and sat waiting in the preschool carpool lane in my minivan, I couldn't help but think of you. 

I admit, until a few days ago, I didn't know anything about you, other than your name, that you play professional golf, have a lovely wife and young children--and that you've apparently golfed at the resort where I declared my first child officially potty trained.  But thanks to the radio, Twitter and CNN, I now know a little bit more about you--more than I probably ever need to know.  Oh, before I forget (that's mommy brain for you), don't worry, I'm not writing to tell you that your number is on my cell.

I'm a busy suburban mom, trying to do it all like every other mother I know. Quite frankly, that doesn't leave me much time (and I confess, I simply don't have the interest) to follow you or the intimate details of your personal life--it's your life and I respect that.  No offense, okay?  

But I feel compelled to take a few minutes to thank you for shaking up my comfortable world with your recent words--though part of me really wishes you hadn't, for both of our sakes.   

While I don't know the first thing about golf (yet, I probably could take a guess at the difference between a driver and a wedge) and while I don't follow celebrity gossip, other than occasionally flipping through a tabloid while getting the rare pedicure, I can't deny that your words referencing "transgressions" ever so slightly rattle my world.  That rattling lingers on even though I recognize that your words are unlikely entirely your own words--hey, don't worry, I respect lawyers, too, and I know they get paid to scrutinize words, edit and rework them 'cause that's what I do as part of my mommy balancing act. 

I totally get that you're just a regular ol' person who happens to be well known. I get that people aren't infallible; they succumb to temptation and can find themselves far from their intended paths. I get that people mess up, sometimes even completely f'ing-up what appears to be a perfect or semi-charmed life

But when I hear speculation, allegations or confessions about "good guys gone bad" (I'm thinking so-called "family men" like Lance Armstrong and John Edwards), or even "good girls gone bad" (girlfriend, you know I'm thinking about you), I find myself deeply thinking, maybe to the point of over-thinking, about the institution of marriage and commitment.

I find myself wondering how I will someday explain to my children, especially my daughters, that one of the raw truths in life is that marriage and commitment, like people, don't come with perfection guarantees, no matter how perfect the wedding day seemed or how together the marriage looks from a distance.  And with that lack of perfection comes the potential for terrible pain and sadness. 

Of course, I also get that fame, money, and power, or the illusion of it, have compelling ways of complicating--even destroying--relationships and marriages, especially when there's pervasive temptation and opportunity.  I get that these variables have the potential to up ordinary dynamics. 

But the reason I'm thinking of you and thanking you isn't because I care about what you may have or haven't done off the green (who knows, maybe even on the green), with whom or when.  And, unlike many moms and bloggers, I'm not concerned about your role model influence on my children--and as far as your own children, well, that's totally your concern. 

It's because of the reminder you've nudged.  The one I know married suburban wives--and husbands, partners, and couples everywhere--can't completely avoid, even by denial.  The reminder that even without the irresistibility and temptation that comes with a spotlight, no marriage or relationship is insulated from the risk of "transgressions"--infidelity, a.k.a. cheating, adultery, or emotional and physical affairs. 

Sure, there are plenty of things individuals and couples can do to try to "affair-proof" marriages or relationships, but at the risk of sounding utterly pessimistic and simplistic, let's not kid ourselves:  there are simply no guarantees.  There are certainly no unconditional, hassle-free, money back warranties when it comes to marriage.  Let statistics be my support.  Apparently, approximately 30-60% of all U.S. married individuals will engage in "transgressions" at some time before "death do we part"--with possibly as many as 50-60% of men engaging in extramarital sex.

Tiger, you've reminded me that blind optimism in the ones we love--and in ourselves--can potentially (though, again, there are no guarantees, right?) create false security, even in perfectly manicured suburbia.  Of course, pessimism or unrestrained suspicion in our commitment or vows and in the ones we love can be damning, too--think self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Nevertheless, I wish I could get my hands on, as well as deliver, foolproof insurance.  As much as I want to beg or wish for a guarantee to insulate myself and my family from pain (or to have the ability to promise my children that they won't ever be hurt by someone they love), I know the closest I, or anyone, can ever get to a guarantee comes through consistent love, sharing, communication, and sometimes hard work.  

Though I'm not trying to dwell on the negative, I think periodic reminders that cause us to examine whether our relationships are on track are ultimately a good thing.  With that said, Tiger, you've got me thinking that realism--a sort of optimistic realism--is the healthiest and happiest compromise of all.  That there's a danger in expecting or assuming our mates (or we, ourselves) or our relationships will always be perfect, but also a danger in expecting or assuming that individuals are destined to know or feel the painful after-burn of transgressions.  After all, transgressions aren't an absolute. 

As part of this realism, you remind me of the importance of being honest with my mate about my needs and fears, and about the importance of ensuring that I'm aware of his, especially in the throws of young parenthood. 

Strangely and somewhat sadly, thinking of you today reinvigorates my appreciation for all the things I love about my spouse, my marriage, and my life.  When my husband walks through the door tonight, whether I'm covered in spaghetti sauce or in the middle of changing a raunchy diaper for the billionth time, he will know he rocks my world.  If he doesn't, I'm doing something seriously wrong.

Thanks for giving me perspective, even though it momentarily shakes my world.

Best wishes to you,

A Suburban Mom

An Original D.C. Metro Moms Blog Post.


When Julie isn't reading the latest headlines, she can be found blogging about flexible lawyering at Darling Hill.  She is the author of Staying at Home, Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams.


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