Friday, Aug 21 2009
View LYNNABEL's food & exercise for this day
This is an edited excerpt from an email to a friend.
Its such a strange time in our lives. We're adults, we have obligations to our families, we've chosen a career path (whether short or long term), but we also know that the choices we make right now are setting down the cement for the years to come. I often find myself wondering if I really want my cement stuck where it is. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it is no.
The only thing I can really share or say is what my thoughts and beliefs are about my own life at this stage. And I canít tell you how often I think about it all.
My personal sanity rests on frequent time by myself. Although blessed with the normal amount of mom-guilt, I also know that I don't stand a chance of being a good mom if I lose myself in the day to day of my children and home. Fortunately, since I have a stay-at-home-husband/dad as my life partner, the weight of home and child maintenance doesn't fall solely on my shoulders the way it does with many women I know. How they don't totally rebel is beyond me. If I didn't have Steve, I'd have an army of housekeepers and nannies. I'm not kidding. Assuming I could afford it, of course.
I, too, struggle with friendships. You know the types of choices I've made that have alienated me from people who I held very dear at one point. I'm still struggling to forgive myself for my less than wise decisions, and struggling to forgive others for leaving me. I've met some women online who I am closer too than members of my family, and I have a small circle of local mom-friends that I met at a post-birth parent support group. Steve is always telling me to go out more, which I appreciate, but rarely find the energy for. I tell you what I would REALLY love is 4 days at my house without husband or children. I never have time at home alone.
I plan Ė and I hope I make it happen Ė to begin traveling by myself when Ellen is just a bit older. If my sister can join me, great. If not, I have no problem with the idea of flying to London or Paris or South America for a week by myself.
I also belong to a Unitarian Universalist church. And while I donít have close friendships with other members of the church, it is enough for me at this point to know that there is a large group of like minded people in the world who have the same basic values I do. I find that very comforting for some reason.
Career-wise Ė A friend and I talked about this at some length a few weeks ago. She said, and I agree, that as the family bread-winner Iím in a unique position with regard to my career. I "get" to (or "have" to, depending on my point of view on any given day) put my personal preferences aside and focus on what supports my family to the greatest degree. As strange as it sounds, that is liberating for me. It is sometimes easier to NOT be able to wonder if I'm doing what I "should" be doing because what I AM doing is paying for our house, our food, our lives. I happen to have a job that provides quite a bit of work/life balance which is wonderful. Is it always pleasant? No. Is it what I imagined Iíd be doing? No. I donít know that I will ever have an overwhelming desire for a particular type of work Ė so I tend to focus my passion to my personal/private life. Sometimes that includes Steve and the kids, and sometimes not.
Whether you find you really want to carve out something that is more completely your own from your life is something only you can answer. But for what it is worth, if you want to do that, I firmly believe you will be doing something good for your children, not just yourself.
I WISH my mother had taken time for herself as we were growing up. She would have been happier, and she wouldíve more proactively shown me that she was a person in her own right. I would then have applied that to myself, and would have realized earlier than I did, that life is not lived in relationships alone, but ALSO in those spaces and times where you focus on yourself to the exclusion of others. Some may disagree, but I donít think that is selfish. I think that is critical and responsible, especially for women. How will our daughters learn not to totally disappear into relationships or to value themselves for themselves alone, if we donít show them? How will our sons learn to respect a degree of autonomy in a woman if we donít show them what it looks like?
There are lots of women whose passion is being a SAHM. I am not one of them, but there are times when I wish I were, as if that would somehow make me a "better" person and mother. I often remind myself that women are different, and none of those differences need to mean we love our children any less or value our spouses any less than someone who really doesn't (appear to, anyway) chafe sometimes at life in the same way I do.
So the above was WAY too much about me.