I chose to be the sole night time parent to my newborn child.
But I think it was that simple choice that has influenced so much of my life now, in ways I didn't know it would. What I was saying to myself, my husband and even to my child, was that my husband needed more sleep to do his daytime job than I needed to do mine. Which sort of said that his job was more important, needed more concentration, more focus. It sort of told my husband that this whole parenting thing was more my job than his. It sort of gave him permission to be free-er right from the start than I was. It let him off the hook in so many ways.
It's not like it was ALL I knew. My wise sister-in-law had her first baby 2 weeks earlier and she wasn't making the same choice. This was THEIR baby and THEY were going to care for him. I sort of thought her a bit selfish, a bit silly. Why should they BOTH be up in the night? Why not let the one who could sleep sleep?
Well, 5 years, 5 months and 21 days later, the dynamics in that house are very different than the ones in this house. My husband works outside the home A LOT. It's not unusual for him to be gone 10 or 11, sometimes 12 hours a day. And it's not by my choice. He doesn't include me when planning his weekly schedule. He's the breadwinner. This is just what happens, isn't it? Didn't I have 2 choices? To be alone at home with my children OR to work outside the home and leave my children with someone else most of the day?
He pops home unexpectedly in the day and when my excitement plummets upon realization that he's not actually staying, he says things like "well, would it be better if I didn't come home at all then?"
This isn't the life I thought I was choosing that night. I chose to be the primary parent for attachment, but I didn't realize I was choosing years and years of not mattering when it came to actually CHOOSING how I spend my week. Oh, I wouldn't choose to work outside the home. I wouldn't choose to be away from my children. But I WOULD choose for my husband to share the responsibility of household chores, to be home more, to be more in a co-parenting role. I think I thought that choice would expire in, what about 6 months when she started sleeping through the night (LOL!!!) or a year at the most...
We moved out to the Okanagan in pursuit of a simpler life. My husband's job in the big city was demanding too much of him, pulling him away from us on weekends and he didn't feel like he was able to CHOOSE his life. We wanted to be together more. He wanted to be a more involved dad. We were giving up money and prestige in favour of a simpler life.
But did anything really change? He has an 'important' job. It demands long hours and lots of his energy and focus. He chooses to continue in his job. I, by default, am alone a lot with our children. I, because I'm home alone with our children, do all of the laundry, all of the cooking, all of the cleaning (not that there's a whole lot of that that's getting done these days!), all of the food buying and growing, all of the planting, all of the preparation for celebrations, all of the gift-buying/making, and on and on the list goes. Do I CHOOSE this? Well, I guess I do. It all needs to be done and I'm here so I do it. Mostly with joy. Sometimes with resentment. I definitely choose to homeschool our kids. I definitely choose to garden (my life's passion). I definitely choose much of what I do with my time and how I spend my life. But the one thing that seems beyond my control, out of my reach for choosing, is with whom I do all of this. I wouldn't choose to do it alone, as I am now. I would choose to have a co-parent. I would choose to have my own thing on the side, something I can do from home, something I'm passionate about, something that's all mine. I would choose for my husband to work from home as well, at something he's passionate about too. But nobody's asking. Hell, I'm not waiting to be ASKED, I'm sharing my desires/needs/wants but nobody's listening.
And I'm frustrated. Empty too much of the time. Because this most-important job in all the world is truly NOT meant to be done alone. Mothering is meant to be done in a tribe, surrounded by other adults, sharing chores, sharing jobs, sharing passions, having time to oneself as others fill in the gaps, taking up the slack when others need time to themselves... Connection. We are MEANT to be connected. To our mothers, our sisters, our cousins, our children, our HUSBANDS, for &%#@ sake. We are not meant to be disconnected for hours each day. What is the result of disconnection? I think it's monotony. Resentment. Depression. Disconnection takes what should be done in joy and turns it on its head.
It's not the life I choose. Plain and simple. What's to be done about it? In this culture, how do we choose otherwise? Being 'successful' means such a different thing to me than it used to. How do we choose connection in a disconnected culture? How do you do it? Do you feel a true partnership with your husband? How do you manage it? I'd love to hear...