I am following a blog about marriage..... ready, set, wife ....... check it out!! It is co-written by Cathleen Carr and Robin Okrant (author of the fabulous Living Oprah .... check that out too!). They posted recently about marriages and babies, and city artsy folks vs suburban mommies. With one foot firmly planted in each camp, I felt I may have a unique perspective on this dichotomy.
To say that these are two separate worlds is truly an understatement. As much as I would love to blend them together, it never really fits. It is more like that pair of really cute shoes that you buy even though they pinch..... The thing is, you can never be quite free and uninhibited for the non-parent crowd, and you can never be quite super-mom enough for the suburban mommy set.
I live in a community of Stepford Wife Super Moms. If you want to feel inadequate about your parenting, move here. Maybe it is just my insecurities speaking, but I feel surrounded to the point of choking by stay-at-home moms who do nothing other than run their over-scheduled toddlers from activity to activity. Of course there are exceptions, but for most of them it seems that their very lives have been reduced to nothing else.
On the other end of the spectrum, are my free-spirited childless friends. They are generally this way by choice and are happy with that. To them, I am the old-fuddy duddy who can't go out on a school night or doesn't fathom whisking off to Vegas for the weekend. I am the one who needs notice to make it out on a Saturday night.
Somewhere in the middle is me. But the thing is, it is just where I belong. I am not sure I would ever be content to be squarely in either category. We had kids young, young enough I suppose to not truly appreciate how exhausted and inexperienced we were at the time. We made mistakes, learned from them, and grew into an indestructible unit. Now my carefree side needs to have crazy nights out with wine and dancing, and the other side loves my children deeply and infinitely and cherishes quiet nights reading stories and playing board games by the fire. The women who gave me the most pressure to go out to the club when I was a young mom who spent Saturday nights home with my baby, are the same ones who look down on me now when I choose to trust a family member to watch my not-so-little ones while I enjoy an evening out.
I think the key to this balance for me lies in the fact that I have such a supportive husband who is an active parent. He does NOT call caring for his children "babysitting." He trusts me inherently and knows that at some point in even the wildest nights out, all I want to do is get home and lie in his arms. We both know that being parents does not mean surrendering your entire former self to the job. It also requires knowing when to stay home and nurture those babies and squeeze every ounce out of those fleeting childhood moments.
Everyone lives the life they choose, and for me, it lies somewhere in the middle of these two opposite worlds. It is where I belong. We live in a stable, quiet community where our children can thrive, and we have a network of friends who like to have fun. I have happy, well-adjusted kids, and I have amazing friends. I would never be truly happy giving up one for the other. And at the same time, I respect the lives that others have chosen to live as well. I would just ask that they do the same and not judge me. And more than that, I wish the gap wasn't so large between the various camps.
To answer the question posed in the article, how does having children affect a marriage? The answer is Profoundly. And forever. And as much as you allow it to. And hopefully, if you are as lucky as I, you will be able to be who you are, and have a partner for the journey who makes the experience as incredible and amazing as my husband has.
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