It's Friday night. Brian went out with some work friends. I encouraged him to do this; we all need a night off. In fact, I told him to stay past dinner. Have dessert. Have an after-dinner cocktail. Or two. Have a GOOD time that doesn't involve me crying or the Bear fussing.
Am I the best wife ever? Sadly, no. Secretly, I had my own agenda: read my recently purchased books. No husband = no TV, no conversation, and once the baby goes to bed, a luxurious amount of time I can spend stretched out on the couch, drinking wine and reading. Ahhh......(imagine me stretching my arms over my head, grinning)....heaven.
And only one book was cut out for a night as special as this: yes, 'Committed,' by Elizabeth Gilbert. Actually, let me clarify this and say, one specific chapter in her book: Marriage and Women. I have been enjoying the book all week, but I knew this chapter was going to need some serious TLC; reading paragraphs between Scotty's naps while the Today Show blared on the TV was not going to cut it. No, this chapter insisted on a quiet house, some candlelight, a nice glass of Zin, and my favorite couch blanket.
And it has not disappointed. I am about 1/2 through the chapter and I finally - FINALLY - feel like someone has put my disorganized thoughts and convoluted feelings into coherent sentences. Let's just say the quote at the beginning of the chapter reads, " Today the problem that has no name is how to juggle work, love, home and children." Betty Friedan, The Second Stage. Oh, you've got my interest, right there.
See, all of this started about six weeks ago. After watching an episode of Oprah about the treatment of women ("Half the Sky") in other parts of the women, Brian came home to find me crying and pissed off. At him. (poor guy. I once had a scary dream during my pregnancy that he was cheating on me with Playboy bunnies and I didn't talk to him for three days. He kept saying, "But it didn't even happen! It was a DREAM!" and I just ignored him and scowled.) During this particular time, Brian found me angrily cooking dinner, muttering under my breath about the recipe entailed to oppress a woman: marry her and get her pregnant. Easy as pie. Because if a woman has to take care of someone else, she cannot and will not take care of herself.
Again, I want to point out: yes, I got married on my own volition and we quite rightly had Scotty out of choice and deep desire. However, the numerous changes in my life - closing my practice, going on bed rest, having a gigantic child that refused to latch on and yet still believing in the benefits of breast milk that forces me to pump six to eight times a day, and subsequently staying at home - left me feeling unappreciated and vaguely angry. But I couldn't quite pinpoint why or how - after all, I "get" to stay home, I should be happy - even lucky! But I was feeling so bummed. On top of that, I was feeling guilty for not counting my blessings. All of those icky feelings wouldn't go away.
Enter the lovely Ms. Gilbert. She, in the fifty pages of this chapter I've managed to read so far - has pretty much validated my feelings and taken it one step farther: she recognizes that the sacrifices of mothers may benefit the family as a whole, but rarely benefit the individual (i.e. the mother). Thank you, thank you, thank you. I don't know why, but just seeing that in print - it's not like anything is changing in my life - made me feel better. I've really been wrestling with the whole "Where does 'the family' end and Kim begin?" question and have not come up with many answers. I do not want to be one of those women who sacrifice their entire identities to raise children, only to one day wake up and be 55 with no children at home and absolutely no clue who I am or what I want out life. Yet, I also don't want to miss out of my child's life, thus bringing me (and countless other women) to the greatest conundrum our gender will ever face: how do you maintain a healthy family life and raise happy, well-adjusted children without losing yourself in the process?
And I don't think I can answer that. At least, not yet (or maybe ever). She also goes on to highlight that a woman's, more so than a man's, sense of integrity is entwined with \the ethic of care. This explains why women will turn up their noses at other women whom they believe to be inferior mothers. This certainly helps to explain the pressure to breastfeed in our society (and the shame that results when breast feeding is not successful.) This probably also explains why, six to eight times a day, I put plastic cups on my poor, sad boobs and suck out yet another three or four ounces. My self-worth is wrapped up in my child's care. If he suffers, I suffer. Brian doesn't but I do.
Argh! Is this making sense? It's late, I'm tired, and my wine glass is looking strangely empty. All I know is that this whole 'motherhood' thing is a lot more complicated that previously anticipated. I mean, prior to Scotty's conception and arrival, I was all USWeekly about it. Cute clothes! Green nursery! Trendy stroller! No, folks, it much more serious than that. It's like, all emotional and stuff.
More to come. Must think and process.