I’ve heard that having children changes you, changes your life, and changes your marriage. Now that I have children (one, very small), I know that’s the saddest excuse for an understatement I’ve ever heard. Here’s just a small example of a daily life change:
During the BC years (Before Child) my husband and I used to commute together most days out of the week. This meant that I had some, albeit tenuous, control over his work schedule. It also meant we saw quite a bit of one another, as most nights he had no other ride home from the office. G often cooked (he’s a far better cook than I am, and seems to enjoy it more, to boot) while I walked our long-suffering dog. After dinner we’d watch movies and read books and play board games, and other such things as people without children do.
Since Charlotte entered the world, however, things have drastically changed. Tonight, for example: I started thinking about what to have for dinner some time this morning (that’s how long it takes me to accomplish almost anything, considering the interruptions). I went shopping after my new mom’s group for the necessary provisions, and spent the better part of the rest of the day rushing between entertaining/caring for my child and doing various household tasks. I fed and bathed the monster, and got her to fall asleep by 7:30 (a miracle!), then set about making dinner. It is now 9:00, and I am now eating dinner in front of the computer, accompanied by the poor dog (who still hasn’t had an evening walk, thanks to complications pre-bath-time) and a lot of noisy nighttime insects.
What happened? I keep telling myself that this is sort of a good thing: G has been through what seems like hundreds of jobs he hates, and now he finally has a job he loves. Is it so bad that he works late, when he’s enjoying himself, not to mention supporting our family single-handedly (for the moment)? I, for one, am considering not going back to a job I hate so that I can stay home and take care of my baby–and that’s a job I love that goes on 24/7. If I demand that G gets home early every night to work the second shift as a father, that’s not exactly fair, either.
The truth is, G’s a great father–on the weekends, and the nights he does make it home early–and I sincerely doubt Charlie will remember the long hours he put in when she was 10 weeks old. I’m reading a book of essays written by working and stay-at-home mothers, and G’s schedule is lax compared to most of theirs and their husbands’. He’s doing this thing that’s fulfilling and important, the same as I am. But I still feel somewhat abandoned, sitting across the table from an empty chair.
Then again, I can’t help but notice that the things I’m missing aren’t the things we had before–seriously, who cares about the movies and the board games? I’m more concerned that my husband isn’t home to see his daughter: who cares if he’s home to eat dinner with me. And there’s my fatal flaw, I’m afraid: to be a wife as well as a mother is also a double shift, but one I need to learn to juggle as much as any parent. I can’t forget that having children changes everything.