I didn’t want kids. I didn’t want to get married either. Kids gave me this chest tightening anxiety and it seemed as though everyone in my family had gotten a divorce- many after 30 years of marriage. I didn’t want any part of it. I assumed that I would have enough ammo to thoroughly fuck up my own children, let alone navigate the shark infested waters of holy matrimony.
I was 20 years old, what did I know? I was a radio, tv, film major and wanted to travel the globe making women’s studies documentaries. I thought I could learn the craft and help the plight of women around the world…I was optimistic and yet lacked any drive to actually pursue my dream. So, what did I do? I waited tables, went to parties, cultivated a great group of friends and became settled into an ordinary life in a college town. I have never been on a humanitarian mission or stood behind the camera.
I met my now-husband when I was 19 years old. He was cocky and self-assured and I hated him, we did not get along. At all. I was bitchy, he was cocky. We were both far too stubborn for our own good, so we started dating, obviously. Four years later we got married. He wanted kids and I wasn’t necessarily opposed to children at this point. For some weird reason that I still don’t fully understand, I knew, like I have never known anything so certain in my life, that he would be the father of my children. I couldn’t picture having kids with anyone else. No one. I could picture dating or marrying someone different- but not to be the father of my children. I call this the Neanderthal theory- we are still primitive beings. We seek the best partner for procreation. He was so good looking. He had that self-assured strut to his walk and had this wink that would make your knees weak. He had thick dark hair that always looked effortless and perfectly bed-head messy, and still does all these many years later. He took pride in his appearance and his wardrobe. The first time we really hung out alone was a J Crew sale at the local hotel. (We both still have the coats we bought from that event) He was attractive, funny, smart and driven to succeed.
You hunt. I gather. You provide. I take care of children.
I suppose it could be that simple.
After graduating college with a degree in Sociology, I dipped a tiny little pinky toe into the “real world” and decided that I could make more money and have a more flexible schedule if I continued to bartend. Honestly, I could make $10k more slinging some drinks than I could advocating for children lost in the system. Two years later, we got married and two years after that we had our first child. I took six months off from work and went back part-time, 3 nights a week. I would head off to work in the evenings and Jeff would stay home with the baby, no paid child care necessary. It was a win-win! I made some extra income, we didn’t have to pay for child care and all was good. I didn’t have a career, per se, but that was ok. I couldn’t think of any career that would make me drop off my precious baby to daycare. NOTHING.
We had our son two years later and I took another 9 months off. I headed back to work and my husband had the babies in the evening. I still had no career, but the tradeoff was well worth the lack of 401k. I couldn’t, and still can’t, imagine dropping my babes off every morning. No. No. No.
We became involved in our fabulous cooperative preschool. I became school treasurer and then spent a year and a half as President. We created fundraisers and held garage sales, we had weekly play dates and mom nights out. We would go for ice cream on the square and a picnic lunch on the courthouse lawn. I wouldn’t give those moments up for anything. My eyes get watery just thinking about it. It just never made sense to go find a “real job”. The money was too good, the schedule was flexible and I loved the company and my co-workers. It became hard to justify going to work full time and neither Jeff nor I found it necessary. He never called it “his money”, I never felt guilty for staying home with the kids. He didn’t demand dinner every night or question the daily household chores. We had a good respect and rhythm in the house.
Of course there have been times I blew up and completely lose my shit. I would cry out of frustration that he just doesn’t understand how difficult being a SAHM is and he reminds me that he works his ass off all day to support his family. This is still a regular discussion. I won’t say there is resentment, but definite tension. He has often told me that I am more than welcome to pursue a career and he will stay at home- if I could make as much money as him. Right. We all know that will not happen. So, Monday comes back around and he drives off to work and I start a load of laundry. Truthfully, he would go crazy staying at home and I don’t want to be in the grind of the workplace.
I need my babies with me, but I also need a good babysitter.
I need date nights and adult conversation. I need strong margaritas and a good reason to get out of yoga pants. I need to exercise my brain in interesting and challenging ways that have nothing to do with child rearing. I need reminders that I am more than “just a mom”. Yes, there are days that I want to start taking shots of whiskey before 9am. There are days I wonder what by life would be like without the constant pressure of children, days I wonder what I could have done should I have married someone that didn’t want children. There are days when a simple trip to Target ends up in flailing fits and screaming matches. There are days I want to cry alone in my closet and hope that no one comes to find me, but even in the depths of despair and frustration, I cannot hand my children over to someone else’s care every day.
Someday the kids will grow up and spread their wings, god willing, and I don’t want to look back and wish we had spent more precious moments together. They only get one childhood and I want it to be full of adventure and fun. I want to take too many pictures and hover too closely. I want to be there and present all the time. I don’t want to relegate my million daily kisses to before 8am and after 5pm. I brought these sweet beings into this world and I want to explore it with them. I want to have lazy mornings cuddling on the couch and fun afternoons at the museum. I don’t want to wait for the weekends. I am selfish like that. I don’t want to prioritize anything above my duties to my family and I don’t think I could balance work/home. It’s just that simple. I want to be home with the kids and it works for our family.