I’ve been postponing and postponing writing this one because I’m aware of how spoiled and whiny I’m going to sound. (So what’s new?!)
During the time that I was calling myself an at-home mom, I wasn’t really. Not like the other at-home moms I know, who are on their own all day long keeping the house in order, organizing activities for the children, and providing twenty-one nutritious meals a week. The difference is I always had backup. My husband was home with me during the day, not just molecularly but materially. He cooked, cleaned, played with the children — we were partners and together the two of us did what is usually done by one at-home parent. Nonetheless, I didn’t really protest much when, for example, the women at my synagogue commiserated about how hard it is to be at home with the kids all day, and I certainly didn’t argue when people commented on what a good mother I was and how lucky my kids were to have me with them. (I mean yes, but…)
Just before our reversal of fortune, I had been starting to think that I’m not really cut out to be at home all the time, that it might be a good idea to do a little more singing, that it wouldn’t hurt to have a babysitter be with the kids a few hours a week so I could take a class or go to the movies or have acting lessons. I was really starting to feel at peace about changing how I labelled myself, de-emphasizing the earthy-crunchy soul mama and getting a little more practical about “me time.” (Hate that phrase. Not sure why.) Under my breath, I was practicing saying, “Oh, but I have a lot of help.”
Now the clock is ticking, the savings are dwindling, the idea of taking a class or going to the movies on a regular basis is off the table. Bill is actively looking for employment and if/when he finds it, I’m going to have to actually start living up to the largely unearned label I so blithely wore before.
I’m very anxious about it all. And I sort of feel ripped off, like I finally had some ideas for my life and now I have to shelve them and learn a whole new set of skills I had planned to subcontract. Of late, I frequently find myself in situations where I wonder what the hell I’m going to do when I have to handle this alone. (You know, one kid asking me to read to him, the other one screaming for a snack, applesauce boiling on the stove, bread about to come out of the oven.) I mean, I guess the simple answer is do one thing at a time and try not to freak out.
The complicated answer is that I’m forty years old and being the harried housewife is not what I want(ed) for my one and only life.