Wednesday, September 07, 2011

My Time, Our Time

The shine has worn off of the jealousy I felt about my friend's new baby when she first came into the world. At first I viewed her experience through the rose-colored glasses that accompany new motherhood, but seeing the reality of her new world has convinced me more than ever that I don't want what she has. But it's not just her.

There's the friends with toddlers who haven't gone to the conventions that my husband and I love so much in the years since their children were born. There's the couple who has spent the four years since their son was born doing things only separately so the other could care for him since they don't have family nearby. Most of the burden has fallen on the mother. "When he was born, my life changed completely; R's life has hardly changed at all." Granted, this is a problem in their marriage, that they're not working together, but it's just so sad to me.

"You'll know if it's what you want. If you don't know, don't do it," she said to me.

But my dear friend with her newborn is providing the biggest confirmation that I don't want to do that job. Mom was a colicky baby herself, and her daughter is… well, while she's beautiful in many ways she's also a nightmare. She never stops crying. Never. If she is awake, she is not just crying, she's screaming bloody murder, wailing inconsolably.

The day I spent with Mom and baby was impossibly stressful. After awhile the wailing became white noise, sort of, but every visit since has been increasingly difficult, especially since Mom and Dad are becoming increasingly frayed. They love their daughter but being unable to console her is causing incredible tension between them. I'm encouraged that they're able to admit that this is really, really hard and think things would be even harder for them if they felt the pressure to say everything's perfect at all times, but it's hard to see them struggling so much.

She said to me "the baby eats ALL OF MY TIME" and it became so real. She has no time to be herself. When baby was first born she had time for her hobbies, but that was before she went back to work. Baking, cooking, writing, gaming, all of it's falling by the wayside so she can devote her time to her daughter.

I've talked about how important my time is to me, and how important time with my husband is, but once again I see this reinforced by watching my friends in their parenting adventures. I want to go to concerts, travel, or go to conventions, but I want to do it with my husband. Raising a child wouldn't just sacrifice my time. Sacrificing my time is sacrificing my life and who I am. It just doesn't sound worth it to me.


Jodykat said...

I agree that choosing to be childfree does often make parents feel threatened about their choices... perhaps because they then unconsciously imagine what their life would have been like if they hadn't had their children... and in that moment feel both jealous of you, disloyal and unloving towards their kids for even thinking that... and unjustifiably think that this seething cauldron of uncomfortable feelings is how they feel about YOUR choice. It's not. It's called unconscious projection, and it's a bitch. The fact that your friend who's a new mum has someone she can be honest with about the tough realities of new-born parenting, and that she and her partner can talk about will help a lot. I'm happy for her that she's got a good friend like you.

Sarah said...

Time to yourself is definitely less than is was. On one hand, you have your baby/toddler that wants your attention. On the other, you do what you want, then you're ignoring your child. I can tell you from experience balancing time for myself, time for my husband and I to be together and time for my son is HARD! Then adding a colicky baby in the mix, it's very hard. My son wasn't colicky, thank god, but my friend's son is. I don't know who they do it to be honest.

But for my husband and I, we often do things separate so the other can watch our son. (But we were kind of like that before the baby so it's not too much of a difference I guess)

For your friend, I'm sure she's been given a ton of advice, but if I may suggest to try Gripe Water, she can buy it pretty much any where. It helps soothe the baby's tummy. When a baby's tummy is upset they tend to want to eat all the time. It might not help at all, but I suppose anything is worth trying!

Glad you're back to feeling like yourself!

* Valerie * said...

My friends have said the same thing, especially those with colicky children. One of them said that she couldn't stand for her husband to touch her anymore. Definitely takes the sheen out of motherhood.

Anonymous said...

I must say, i'm having some serious baby rabies at this stage. 8 of my friends are pregnant, the first due 30 September 2011 (2nd kid)... Its getting so bad i actually asked a friend last night just to get married for a year or two, just so we can have a kid.

I think that was a moment of serious insanity...

I'm single as well, seeing as I am overweight and struggling to loose it all.

Think I need a serious smack against the head or something. I love kids, don't get me wrong, but giving them back is the best part. I cant even keep pets or plants alive, so a kid is a horrible idea...

Any tips in keeping the baby rabies at bay? I'm scared that I will do something I might regret later!

Sylvia said...

Anonymous - I had a moment like that once when I was married (to my ex). It was a five-minute window of, "Oh, hell. Let's have a baby."

When that five minutes was over, I was so thrilled he didn't take me up on it that I swore I'd never say such words again unless I was prepared to spend nine months pregnant and the rest of my life going through the phases of childrearing (and everything it entails).

Way to beat the rabies? Close your eyes and imagine all of the realities, not just the cute parts. If you still want to have one, maybe you want to have one. And that's okay. :)

Stasha said...

@Anonymous First off, it troubles me that you seem to be implying that you're single because you're overweight. Girl, I'm a size 22/24 and my husband is gorgeous, funny, and totally into big girls. He's not alone! A lot of my girlfriends are big girls with hot men. A little confidence goes a long way. Just sayin. :)

Sylvia's recommendation for beating the rabies is the best. Think about childrearing as a whole. It may still be what you want, but you'll only know once you look at it all realistically.

Anonymous said...

Just a P.S. - Sometimes, the shine even fades for parents. (Or should I say "often"?) I was sent a confession letter today from a mother of three who says she might not have had kids had she given it more thought before getting pregnant:

Anonymous said...

Hi Stasha,

I recently started reading your blog and I just love it! I'm also child free by choice and love how you address many of the same feelings that I have.


Jen said...

I'm so happy to find your blog. I just turned 41, have never been one of those woman dying to have kids and when my now husband and I fell in love it turned out he didn't want to have kids either. Of course no one ever said much to me about having kids til I got married and now I get it a lot. And I've had those horrible rabies too (love that expression) b/c friends of mine are now pregnant. Helps to have a great husband that is supportive and listens when the rabies come up.

Cheri (CFN) said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with contemplating the other side of the fence from time to time. :)

I don't get baby jealousy, but I very much get puppy jealousy! Then I begin to think about the work involved, the way it would complicate my life, and I sigh and go back to remembering why I like my simple childfree life.

So I get it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stasha, so I can see you haven't posted in awhile but I first off wanted to say I am glad I stumbled across your blog. Also, a question: you mention in one of the posts below that you had to talk your hubby into being childfree when you got engaged. I am interested in hearing what the circumstances were. As someone who is not necessarily childfree but is *deeply* uncertain/skeptical about childbearing/rearing and doesn't see how I'm to make the right decision if I'm being pressured from all sides (which, long story short, I am, and I am *not* happy about it), I was pretty devastated this summer when the love of my life, to whom I am soon to be engaged, came out and said he "kind of wants to have kids" after all. This after a couple years of saying he would be happy and support my decision either way. How did you and your husband work through this? I'm not even trying to tell my man that it's a "never" thing, but that I need LOADS of space...Thanks Stasha!

Anonymous said...

I don't want cats or a wife either. Is that bad?

Anonymous said...

Yay! I'm glad to see when the shine has worn off of jealousy. I too get jealous at times when I think of all the cute things kids can say and do and then I remember that New York Comic Con is a 4 day experience that I most likely couldn't do if we had kids and my jealousy quickly fades. It's not easy being jealous and you are not alone!

Anonymous said...

I've never been one for volunteering for unpaid work.. unless its through church.

And that's what parenting is. Where's the benefit in that?

The tax deduction doesn't even come close to making it 'worth it.'