So many girls that I know personally dreamed of, longed for–planned for the day that they would get married and start a family. Some had scrapbooks full of everything from wedding dresses to baby names and vintage Ralph Lauren baby outfits. Others went on every date with the thought of, Is he the one? before the waiter served dessert. A couple had vision boards with goals and dates and everything. These young women all have families (most with the husband, too) and love every minute of it. These wives and mothers revel in the awesomeness of it all.
I was empathetically NOT that girl. And quite honestly I am still not that woman. I struggle with having a family.
Before you get all huffy and try to tell me how ashamed I should be of myself, please save your social media outrage for someone kicking a poor defenseless dog on video or a skinny white girl doing a lame skinny white girl version of twerking. I love my family. Besides being fun, each one of them is caring and intelligent and unique in their own way. As bummy as it has been over the last few years, my life would have been much more sucky without my kids entertaining little selves. And knowing my husband loves me provides me with a security that I have never had the pleasure of experiencing outside of my mom and grandma.
But I also am aware that I could be just as happy by myself. I like quiet and clean and order. I like eating what I want and going where I want and buying what I want and seeing who I want. I don’t like constantly cleaning up after other people, trying to put together a meal that satisfies everybody, yelling about homework and taking baths, washing hair and combing it while kids cry, fishing out socks and dishes under the bed, putting off buying clothes that fit me because a kid has grown out of everything she just got or not going on trips that I want because of bills.. basically, many many days pass with the investment being more than the return.
I am sure all you Martha Stewarts and Kelly Ripas and Michelle Obamas and Holly Pete Robinsons out there are gasping at my shame–but I am speaking for a silent number of women who feel the way I do more often than they don’t. I am certain I sound selfish; however, I feel this way just as much as I feel any joy about being a wife and mother. The older I get, the greener the grass definitely looks on the other side.
The crazy thing is that it took me HAVING a family to realize that family life might not be the best thing for me. It took the certainty that life would never quite be like I had imagined it (me half way around the world strolling aimlessly around Kenyan towns and through Irish villages and down French streets while writing) for me to understand how uncut out for wifeliness and motherhood I really was.
I mean, my head enjoys the clouds–not answering ten thousand little girl questions or looking for my husband’s missing razor. My soul flies when I read or listen to music or daydream or write–not fishing old food out of the nether regions of the nasty fridge or looking for a roll of tissue to replace the one nobody bothered to replace. I find it disgustingly frustrating to have a beautiful thought upon which I need to expound–only to have the yelling of all three of them destroy it before I can record it.
What about inspiration, you ask? Well, the inspiration I get sounds like the rant that you’re reading–nothing poetic, thought provoking, or enlightening; just pure exasperation.
And yet: I cannot imagine life without them. Any of them. I secretly dread the day that the oldest goes out into the world on her own without me watching over her like a crazy fox. I worry endless what will happen to the youngest when she is short an audience member. I cry sometimes in fear that my husband might die before I do, leaving me alone to face the world without his hugs and shrugs and big ideas and fearlessness. Even in the face of wishing I was somewhere else doing something else, deep down I know that nothing else could match the stretching of having a family. I have learned to be more and love more and make the precious moments count in preparation for the more numerous painful ones. I have learned to live.
And I guess that is all I have to say about that.