Saturday, January 31, 2009

I never signed up to do this alone

Today B. was supposed to be at a retreat with the Vestry from our church. He decided to not go, letting the priest know via voice-mail that "his wife is sick and he needed to stay home with the kids."

Physically, I am fine (except for my left foot, which I injured 2 weeks ago and is still causing quite a bit of pain). Emotionally, and probably mentally, I am definitely not fine. I am not fine with feeling like a single parent for most of any given week. I am not fine with the fact that B. works/is gone for work about 65 hours every week, and then because of this church committee was gone at least 36 hours last weekend and would have been gone for a large portion of today. I am not fine with the fact that, in essence, I do a lot of single-parenting even though I am married, my husband is not deceased nor too ill to parent. He's just.....not here, and the amount of time that he's not here is much, much more than he is here. I've had enough of it. I don't do anything outside of childcare/housecare at the moment. Well, I am involved in the state chapter for Prader-Willi Syndrome....I'm sure most would say I'm very involved, what with being its President, attending at least 3 board meetings a year, and planning a large yearly fundraiser. But those responsibilities take me out of the house only a very minimal amount compared to amount of time B. is away from home/not responsible for what happens here, and I don't get a paycheck for any of the many, many responsibilities I have, whereas he does.

Now, don't come at me with the "Oh, but raising well-balanced, well-adjusted children in a happy, cozy home should be reward enough in itself. Who needs a paycheck? Your children will thank you down the road for providing them with such a happy childhood" nonsense. How many children really grow up and go back and thank their parents for anything? I had a good childhood too, but it didn't have much to do with any ooey-gooey sappiness provided by my parents. They provided food, shelter, lots of siblings, and as good an education as they could afford - for which I truly am thankful - and felt they did their job. All of which probably explains why parenting just doesn't bring me lots of fulfillment, sad to say. Probably, if I had known myself better 15 years ago, I would have gotten a master's degree, become a workaholic for 10 years, and maybe decided to have children around 38 years old. Marriage would have been in there somewhere, and the house - but kids would definitely have waited.

I do love my children. They are wonderful kids and I am fully aware that B. and I have been blessed immeasureably by having them in our lives. If I could go back in time I wouldn't change having them, I would just change the timing of when we decided to have children. The advice I will pass along to K. (because I'm not sure what lies down the road for S. in these areas) is to get all the education she wants before she even begins to think about having children. Go to school, get your master's degree, work for at least 5-8 years - and then get married. Wait two years, and then have children. At least in that scenario, presumably both she and her spouse will have incomes such that reliable daycare can be paid for, if she continues working (because, of course, in our society there is never any doubt that the man would continue working!!!!!).

So I feel bad that B. skipped this meeting today in order to stay home? Well, yes and no. He's the kind of person who fulfills these kinds of obligations and I know he probably did not feel 100% positive about skipping it. On the other hand, I never signed up to do this alone. We never sat down, when we got married, and talked about issues like this, i.e. how much outside activities are okay given the work schedule one/both of us might have. Or, which one is primarily responsible for childcare - husband or wife - and who is more of just a helper. I never, ever said that I was perfectly fine being the one who stayed home all the time with the kids; the only reason it has worked out this way is a) B. happens to have the job which brings in the money, and b) I did not get any kind of career going before K. came along, so obviously my job was the one that fell away when our two schedules didn't jive anymore. I am not happy being home all the time. I can't tell you how many times I and the kids have been in the car going somewhere, and I've thought to myself, if I didn't have kids there is no way I'd be going anywhere at all, let alone to wherever we were going at the time!!! We've trekked to activities countless times (especially lately) in bad weather, because the activity wasn't cancelled and we'd paid already, and I would have that thought. There just isn't any balance of responsibility in the parenting area between B. and I. And it's not that he avoids it, or thinks it isn't his responsibility! He's not one of those chauvinist guys who thinks "that's not my job" when it comes to childcare. He changed diapers just like I did, and when we get into conversations about this he usually, eventually says "I'd trade places with you in a heartbeat". Which is obviously not going to happen, since there's no way I could just go out and get a job that pays me what he currently makes. Plus, I'm not sure he'd truly enjoy being home all the time.

Well, my fingers are freezing and I've typed enough for now.


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