After watching my daughter grow through her first year of life, I thought it was normal and healthy to want my personhood back. As it turns out, it’s not. It’s completely selfish.
I used to work full-time from home as an internet content writer before I got pregnant. Then, during pregnancy, I did a little less writing and a little more commissioned fine art—I probably worked three to five hours a day. It worked for me; it was true to my ambitions and talents. My husband worked as a line cook. Although there were some things we would have changed if we could (mostly in the salary department), we were happy. I even felt balanced, like none of my roles took center stage. I was an artist, wife, friend and mother-to-be. I earned money for being creative, I went on dates, I hung out with friends and I sewed curtains for baby’s nursery. Balance.
I am a Type-A Stress Junkie, and I also tend to have excess energy. This suited me well as a new mother because there was suddenly so much to do and adjust to. Laundry? Check. Take baby for a walk in the front carrier? No problem. Nurse, read, play with, and venture across town with baby? Absolutely. But as I got used to being a SAHM, these tasks suddenly became second-nature. And when things become second-nature, they tend to get boring.
My husband got a promotion and suddenly had much more to learn and do at work. I watched with an envious eye, meanwhile trying to brainstorm ways to fill my day (ways that didn’t involve watching sitcom reruns for three hours in the morning and watching talk shows all afternoon). What was happening to me? I used to be someone who never had time to touch a TV remote. I used to scoff at my husband’s suggestion to play video games because I hated relaxation. Relaxation frustrates me. I want to splash paint on canvases and alphabetize my bookshelf and clean the crown moulding, not relax!
My husband’s personality is the exact opposite. If he could sit all day in a dark room and play video games, he would. He didn’t see his promotion as an exciting opportunity—he saw it as a nerve-wracking increase in accountability. He’s not a fan of taking work calls on his days off and being his employees’ favorite go-to guy. If it weren’t for the pay, I have no doubt he’d switch back to being a line cook. I can’t fathom wanting to climb down the ladder, but he’d rather not live the American Dream if it means becoming a workaholic.
So when Shaun and I were arguing the other night (while I was in the process of nursing baby down to sleep) and he said, “I wish I had your problem. I wish I was good at too many things and didn’t have time for all of them,” I was speechless.
He proceeded to call me “selfish” for wanting more time to work. He proclaimed that he had made so many sacrifices by working this stressful job, so why couldn’t I just make a sacrifice too? He also said it seems like “no one wants to take care of the baby.” No one? Really? So what have I been doing for nearly a year, exactly? Locking baby in the bedroom and drinking martinis?