I had an epiphany last week talking to my sister. She was lamenting how this lady had, like many times before, dumped her kids off to go be with friends, using some pretense for my sister to care for them. She was especially annoyed because the woman had been gone all week at a conference and she didn’t get it. The lady had wanted kids so bad. Why was she always trying to unload them?
I’m a “middle-aged” new mom, if you exclude random 60 year old pregnancies. It means I spent all my formative and defining college years, and five more years of good health and bold years after that as a woman. I developed hobbies, pleasures, and pastimes as an individual and then as a wife. I wrote an okay novel, half of a better one, and the first two chapters of two even better ones. I served a mission. After I met DH, I quickly learned to love eating at nice restaurants, having long conversations, exploring new places, seeing movies, and giving each other the time and space and verbal support to excel in our careers. I still took extra classes and found time on the train to write.
As fairytale-esc as being DINC (after we made it through the two poor years of grad school and my massive dental bills from getting a spinning hook kick to the face, ninja-style), we both wanted children. Two of them. We wanted to be a family, a clan.
I had a vague sense of what I was trading. It led us to go out twice a week for a month before we gave birth, each time toasting to what we thought could be the last time we ever ate out together.
When DH deployed, the trade-off was palpable. Any real heavy weeks of really going the extra mile for work (working late nights or crazy early mornings multiple days in a row) and I literally ended up at urgent care getting an emergency injection of corticosteroids for my Addison’s condition. None of my single, grad school, or DINC (dual-income no children) pastimes, not even heroic service at work, were anymore possible.
And that’s when this conversation with my sister struck me. I chose Aria as a new way to spend my time and heart. Not a hobby, but a way of life.
Instead of novels, a blog about mother and daughter.
Instead of fine dining, an adventure through the grocery store, capped with a meal from the hot bar.
Instead of walks alone or with my husband, family walks with a detour to the playground.
Instead of extra classes in project management or business analytics, life became a class in humility.
Instead of binging through shows like Battlestar Galactica in a month, we binge on watching Aria transform and grow.