I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans again this past week, and as I tend to do when I’m traveling, I was able to catch some movies on glorious premium channels while I was there. (I am the only person in the world to not have HBO or Showtime, and am therefore forced to read the premium series like “Dexter” and “True Blood”.)
The first night, Marley and Me was showing on HBO2.
I could not call my husband to say goodnight because I was sobbing so hard. I wish I was kidding. I sobbed through the whole damn movie. Because, um, HELLO, it mirrored my life in several aspects. Especially with Beau as our new family member, where life repeats itself and we’re having to wedge a new lifeforce into an established routine.
Everyone in the neighborhood has met Beau now, because he is definitely Charlie in another body as far as him being the canine Houdini. The dog finds ways to wriggle out of any fence, and does so in record time. We’ve met several neighbors who have been kind enough to occupy Beau in enough time for us to come reclaim him. And, sadly.. it took a puppy with big ole wrinkles to get us to meet our neighbors.
But where I got irrationally angry with Marley and Me was when Jennifer Anniston (as the wife to Owen Wilson’s character) decided that she would not work anymore. It was hard, she said, balancing work and motherhood. It was hard, and she felt like she was failing at both jobs because of it, and because it was hard, she would make a choice. She would stop working to be a mom.
And what did Owen Wilson say?
Well, admittedly, we don’t know because then a montage started that showed them moving to a bigger home to accomodate the new child, one that had a nicer kitchen AND a pool and they upgraded to a minivan (of course, because what else would you drive with TWO children, right?), but then there were two babies and happiness and laughing and a huge family plus this goofy and hysterically awful dog.
And I’m riled even TYPING that, because, um.. where’s my CHOICE? When do I get to make a CHOICE? Did I sleep through that CHOICE MAKING DAY? Where I get to say, “You know what? This is really HARD, this working and mothering thing, so um, I’m just gonna not, okay? Just take this second income and shove it, because I’m just not going to choose between working and my child.”
(Sidenote: I have literally fished 5 [FIVE] things out of Beau’s mouth through the typing up to this point. I say “BEAU” more often than I say “TONY” or even “BRYAN”.)
And really? What makes me the most angry of all? Is that she’s right.
I can’t have another baby with this situation. I can’t have another child that I only see an hour a day. It’s just not fair to them. It’s not. It’s not fair to Tony, it’s not fair to me, it’s not fair to anyone. And to subject another child to my lack of availability? Is not fair. It’s not.
I have tossed and turned over this since I saw the movie. And I really have come to the conclusion that I don’t want to mother this way. I don’t want my child to spend eight hours of his early childhood being passed from minimum-wage earner to minimum-wage earner. And that’s not to downplay Tony’s daycare workers.. there are some that we feel are family and I WOULD willingly leave my child with them. But that’s not all of the people he spends his days with. And there are some that I DON’T like, and HATE leaving my child with.
I am not a good mother right now, mentally, and I feel the need to acknowledge that. I work an average of ten hours a day, seeing my child for MAYBE two hours in a 24 hour weekday period. That’s NOT acceptable. And even that time is often comprimised by my not being able to step away from work mentally, or being too tired from work to perk up, or me stretching myself to a breaking point to try and be “there” for Tony.
And then there’s the EVER present Mommy Guilt, where any time that I spend on me feels like I’m borrowing it from someone else. If I don’t pick up Tony from daycare right away and instead go grocery shopping, then every child I see at the grocery store pulls on every heartstring to remind me how much I’m sucking as a mother. If I get dinner on the table, dishes washed afterwards, the baby bathed and put to bed and I go running? Then I feel like I’m taking time away from my husband. I geniuinely feel that I would be more comfortable spending time on myself if I had more time available that I would normally spend working.
Lastly, I strongly feel the need to say that I don’t judge any of you reading this for whatever YOUR choice is. We’re all wired differently, no doubt, and some women LOVE being moms who work outside of the home. Some women could not imagine being anything BUT a stay-at-home mom.
I just feel, right now, that there is so little of me to go around that I couldn’t imagine splitting what IS available down one more time, depriving my current family members just a little more and bringing some poor baby into an already sparse situation.
Now that I’ve dumped all that on you, Beau is running around with a bra. I’m sure it is not his, and I think I should retrieve it.