Finding Myself Among the Diapers
I stay at home now, with my kids, retired from my chosen profession at twenty-six, and I write while my husband goes out and earns the bucks for us. It’s like a Fifities throwback here, without the pearl necklaces (something I’m ITCHING to bring back) and candied hams.
The Daver works in finance, which is a somewhat nebulous term that people typically respond to with a harsh intake of air and a drawn out, “Oooooh.” Since the Crash of Aught Eight, people tend to have a different perception of “working in finance.”
I don’t understand a single thing that The Daver does, and when he tries to explain, my eyes glaze over the same way that his do when I talk about my latest email from my agents. But, for all intents and purposes, what “working in finance” means to me is that he’s almost never home. A seventy-hour workweek is a relatively easy week for him.
Add to that an hour-plus commute each way and you can easily call me a single mother during the week. Oh, don’t worry, I’m not up on the cross about it or anything; I’m sure some new mother needs the wood. To me, it’s just the way it is.
And while I did choose to have my three children, I didn’t expect that I would have to lose myself in the process to be successful.
Certainly, I am Ben’s mother, Amelia’s mother, Alex’s mother, Dave’s wife, daughter of Ann and Joe. Sister of Aaron. But I’m more than the sum of who I am to other people. This includes my children.
Sure, I suppose, I could go back to work to reclaim the Becky I was, now lost among piles of diapers and educational toys, but that wouldn’t solve anything. I’m fortunate that I’m able to stay home with my children, I’m not going to deny that, but, like any other choice, there are consequences.
It seems to me that with small children—even making the choice to have them—comes a loss of self.
Because for every healthful morsel I can shove down my kids’ gullet comes a meal I’ll eat cold and gluey. For every doctor’s appointment that I schlep someone to and from, I never can quite make the time to get my own bloodwork done. I peck out words onto my keyboard in between poopy butts and loads of laundry, and I’m expected to apologize for taking this time for myself.
I could, after all, be spending it growing my own organic food and mowing the lawn with my teeth. As Dave and I frequently joke, it never ends, does it? And it doesn’t.
That’s okay with me, honestly, because childhood doesn’t last forever.
My kids will grow up, go to college, and move out (presumably). They’ll lay on faceless therapists’ couches and spill out all of my secrets: I didn’t prepare a three course gluten-free trans-fat free organic meal for dinner. I selfishly wrote about them and their lives. I reminded them every day that they should never lose track of who they are and what they want and that made them feel … angry?
They’ll grow up and be gone and I’ll have plenty of time to myself then. I’m sure I’ll spend a bit of that time wishing I’d done something different: spent less time worrying about washing their hair and more time inhaling that new baby smell. Knowing it will end helps me savor it.
And I do.
But I’m not selfless enough to live my life for my children. Nor, do I think, would they, as adults, want me to.
So no, I’m not going to apologize if I have a drink with my husband after they go to bed. I’m not sorry that I carve out some time each day to write and to connect with other people. I can’t tell you that I’m going to stop looking for things to fulfill my need to be Becky, As Herself and not Just Mom. They’re not mutually exclusive, people.
Lest you picture me passed out on the couch with a bottle of vodka next to my head, as the name of my blog implies, while my poor—WON’T ANYONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?—children fend for themselves, let me assure you that I couldn’t tell you the last time that I actually had a drink. It wasn’t today, or yesterday, or last week. And when I *did* have a drink, I had just one.
The last time that I got soused was well over three years ago. I’m compulsive, maybe, but not when it comes to The Drink. I don’t have the luxury of a hangover any longer and I don’t care to wake up the Day After to pay for what I’d done the Night Before. It’s not my thing.
But responsibly letting your hair down with your friends, getting loud and obnoxious, or having kinky wild butt-sex with your husband? I can’t see the fault in that. Life—with or without children—can be tedious. It can be tedious, it can be boring, and it can feel long.
Certainly, that doesn’t mean that one should drink a fifth of Absolut, smoke a doob, and get behind the wheel of a car. There’s nothing funny whatsoever about drunk driving or parenting while intoxicated, don’t mistake my meaning here. There’s no excuse for that sort of behavior, no matter how isolated, neglected, abused or miserable one may be.
There’s a happy medium to be found, I know that there is, between here and there. Between living for yourself and for someone else. And I like to pretend that it involves a cabana boy named Carlos and his well chiseled, oiled chest.
But maybe I’m wrong.
His name could very well be Paulo.