A few week ago I received a compliment from a man while I was bagging my groceries at the store. Being unaccustomed to such praise from strangers, I merely said "thank you," and tried to go about my business. He, however, must have had other intentions, for he persisted with his flirtation until I mentioned I was married-- which was about the next thing I said, mind you. At that, he apologized profusely, gathered his groceries and left. And so, after weeks of pondering how I can avoid future awkwardness, I figure one of three things needs to happen if I'm going to be solo-grocerying:
1. My husband needs to buy me a larger diamond ring. Much, much larger.
2. I design a new set of t-shirts to advertise my relationship status as boldly as Facebook.
3. I adopt a new hairstyle:
Or, I rely on the universal symbol of love: dolphins, and get a tattoo*.
After my son was born, I went back to work. (I thought that it was my responsibility to work and provide for my family since my husband was going to school, but that's another story)
From time to time, someone reflects on this year of working outside my home and comments, "I don't know how you did it." To be frank, I didn't. Our house was a disaster. Our clothes were stained and wrinkled, if not lying in heaps about the floor. My dishes piled up so much on the counter I would spend hours (hours!) on the weekends handwashing them. My husband cleaned the bathroom when we expected company, which was rarely. I cried at least once a day- before leaving for school, after dropping off my son at the sitter's, while sitting in the nurse's room pumping during lunch, upon reentering the mess of my house at the end of the school day, after burning dinner because I needed to nurse my son, before going to bed- I cried about anything, and everything.
I spent my weekends trying to play catch-up. At times, we cooked all weekend and froze meals to last a month. I lesson planned two weeks in advance. My husband helped me grade the papers I ignored during the school days. We washed loads and loads of clothes, and loads and loads of dishes. I nursed on demand to increase my supply, but still, I felt myself slipping further and further behind. So many days, I wanted to walk into the principal's office and quit. By the end of the school year, I had composed an apology letter to the parents of my students because I felt so guilty about everything I had done poorly at school, and was relieved that we were moving away and I wouldn't have to face any of them anymore at church and pretend my life was okay.
Since I've been staying home, I've had a much different experience. I'm not going to say that my house is never untidy, or that I never make poor parenting decisions, or that I never burn dinner. Those things still happen from time to time. But I'm happier here, and therefore, so is my family. I have fewer jobs to do, and I can do them better than I could when I was working. I can't imagine ever going back to that lifestyle, no matter how old my son gets, or how bored and lonely I get. I can do this,and often, I can do it well. That's a reality I'm not willing to compromise.
Perhaps it's because I just have one child, or perhaps it's because I'm still a "new mom," but I still can't understand why I would be expected to leave my child with a person whom he considers a stranger, simply so I can go do something without him when he's only two. It just seems selfish. But perhaps I'm an overbearing mom and my son will never find a job and will live forever in my basement eating take out pizza and playing video games.