Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"I would... if I didn't have a baby."

I hate hearing myself think this (yes, I hear myself think). HATE IT. Generally, it happens at night, when I’m tired – when Droidlet is asleep and I’ve been lesson planning/working on my thesis/hunting for better paying jobs for far too long and I stumble across something that sounds awesome:
                Teach English overseas! Join the PeaceCorps! Be an assistant to a crazy 86 year old author woman who lives in a mansion in Agoura Hills! Be a free lance writer!
                And I think in my head, “I would…if I didn’t have a baby.”
                I promised myself when I got pregnant that I would never use Droidlet as an excuse. Yes, there would be reasons that are tied to him for why I may have to cancel a girls’ night or not go on a weekend adventure up North, but none of those would be Droidlet’s “fault” and instead, a decision I make for what is best for my family. Yet, here I sit in front of the computer, with lots of interesting, random events and opportunities popping up in front of me and all I can think is “I would…if…”
                Where did I go?
Of course, I am realistic. PeaceCorps is not in the cards for me anymore but that's not just because of the little bot but because of my educational pursuits, my relationship with Funk, and my closeness with my family. A good balance? Supporting my cousin whole-heartedly as she entertains this as a possible path for herself while I continue to navigate my own revised plan.
                Before getting pregnant, I talked a lot about getting my PhD or MFA – definitely furthering my education. And aside from “Is Droidlet sleeping through the night yet?” and “How is your thesis going?” the most common question I get is “So, are you, um, still gonna go for that PhD?” in a very why the hell would you do that to yourself? kind of way. And for that half-split-very-miniscule-itty-bitty-second, I almost think “I would…if I didn’t have a bab-“ and then I catch myself.
                YES. Yes, I am still going to get a PhD. Now, the path to that PhD may have changed a little bit. I still need to decide whether I’m going to enter a program immediately, or when Droidlet starts school, or when he leaves for college, or when/if I become a grandma. I haven’t figured out the when of it, but I do know it’s going to happen. I am not done attending school, I am not done learning, and although those two things aren’t mutually inclusive, I love having them intertwined.
                So, why would I let “having a baby” get in the way of smaller decisions?
                I think part of it is battling what society tells me I need to be as a mother. Droidlet should come first, in every single way – my goals should become secondary in order to let him have a fulfilled life with all the opportunities he needs. Of course, I don’t believe this. I think him seeing me teach and write and pursue research and education will be just as enriching if I was able to stay home and school him myself. He’ll be able to do fieldtrips to the universities I speak at and will learn about other people needing their space to write and think and create. Hopefully, he’ll learn a respect for reading, writing, and research because he grows up in a home with an “academic” (whatever that turns out to mean for us…).
                So, it’s time to get that excuse out of my head, remove it from my repertoire of silly excuses and justifications that bounce around up there. “Want to take a hike, Rachael?” Why, yes! I’ll just strap the baby to my back and make sure to stop and feed him every hour to prevent altitude sickness and yay! he gets to start to foster a love for the outdoors. “Rachael, want to try for this crazy job opportunity?” Why, yes! I’ll work out a flexible schedule and maybe a work-from-home time so that I can be both mama and awesome writer-making-money-lady! "Hey, why don't you try to publish some of your work?" Why, yes! This is the scariest thing ever, ever but during Droidlet's naps I can research journals and maybe, just maybe, some of my thesis work can be sent to publishers! And the list goes on. Because the possibilities are endless. Even for Especially for a mama.


  1. Part of it is simply logistics.

    Sure, if I need something from the store at 10pm and Heather is out of town, I could wake up Maddie, load her into the car, take her to the store, and come back. But it's simply not worth that effort.

    Conversely, expect massive time sinks as he ages. It took me almost an hour to get the mail Saturday. We stopped to look at: dead worms that came up from the rain; some leaves on the lawn; some of the neighbor's dog's poop - with discussion on its color and that it is never okay to touch dog or cat poop with your hand; cracks in the sidewalk; how the lock on the mailbox works; how the hinge on the mailbox works; why we were sent pictures of food from the grocery stores; the neighbor's cat; why the neighbor's cat is friendlier than ours; why Daddy's car is dirty; why a left out piece of sidewalk chalk will roll if it is perpendicular to the driveway, but not if it is parallel to it; that contrary to her insistence, everyone in the family is not named "Pasta"; and why the doorknob on the front of the door is a lever you push with your thumb, but a knob you turn on the inside.

    It was simply not logistical for me to do many other things that day (grading Sophomore research papers, for one), but that was far and away the most interesting trip to the mailbox I have ever taken.

    I think of all those things as being on a temporary hold, but as much for her as me. Sure, I might be able to find a teach abroad program that would let me take the family. But I'd rather do it on a few more years, so she will remember it. She gets so much amazement out of things I take for granted, it is giving me a renewed curiosity in those things.

  2. Daniel,

    Exactly. As you said, "I think of all those things as being on temporary hold, but as much for her as me." I want to enjoy this time of Droidlet's life in the fullest way possible while still retaining "me." It's all about finding those balances.