Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Change of Heart

Last night, during the commercials of the only episodes of American Idol that I truly enjoy (where Randy, Paula and Simon laugh at all of the freaks that don their stage) I had a great conversation with HFRM#1 who was over to hang out and help me with the bedtime routine as BioMom was out in LA for a work thing.

She was telling me about how a friend of hers (let's call her "Monkeyface") who I had written off years ago as one of those strange breeds of young female-Neocons ("FENEOCON" which is ironically close to one of the professional groups to which I belong, "FEMECON" or Feminist Economics). Prior to a recent lunch with Monkeyface, HFRM#1 had witnessed this woman planning out her life as though she were the lead in a fairy tale. Literally. She had a PLAN: meet guy, quit work, get pregnant, raise kids. Period. In spare time: volunteer for the RNC and its associated local organizations.

I think it was purely entertainment value for HFRM#1.

Not that I'm anti-fairy tale or anything. Its just that I get a little freaked out when people are so sure about their life plans. It makes me want to back away from them quickly as I suspect an imminent lightning bolt from the clear sky to hit the vicinity. It's one thing to have life fantasies, but it is another to be so unreal about well, about reality.

But in a recent coveration with Monkeyface, HFRM#1 was shocked to find that she had done quite a bit of soul searching and was now contemplating breaching the martial contract that spelled out their fertility schedule.

What if I can't get pregnant? What if I get pregnant and I don't like the kid? I mean, really? What if we don't have anything in common? What if the kid gets sassy and I can't control it? What if I don't LIKE staying at home with kids? What if i continue to volunteer and need to go to a meeting and my husband promises me that he'll be home to take care of the kids and he doesn't show up? And what if I'm so pissed off about it that we fight and fight and fight? And what if I give up my job and get resentful at the kids because I miss my job and gave it up?


Let's just say that she was having more than a little case of cold feet.

Her questions are as real as they get and what is scary about them is that there is no "trial period" in parenting. Its not as though you can co-habitate for a while to 'see how it goes' and move out if it doesn't, sustaining only a little heartbreak, wounded pride, and possible some small capital investments that you made together.

I would never have guessed at how much I love staying at home with Big. I'm not sure anyone that knows me would have guessed it.

However, in answer to her questions (using hindsight), YES! YES! That will all happen to some extent, no? You may have trouble getting pregnant (in any case, very few women get pregnant the first month they try). Kids are a little bit of you (and a little bit of your partner, if you're lucky to conceive that way), and a little bit of themselves. All of those little bits have plusses and negatives, so you can expect to get annoyed when you see them exhibiting the worst parts of you. Etc. Etc.

I'm starting back to work on Tuesday though (on such a part-time basis, that most people would call me a huge whiner for even mentioning it) and although I am trepidatious, I am also excited. Its time to widen both my and Big's worlds.

He'll be spending time with Mo4, one of the most loving and generous people I know.

I'll be spending time with some new colleagues and students (more importantly, only two blocks away from at least four different restaurants featuring international cuisine! BioMom and I met for lunch the other day near my new digs at this place.)

I am just grateful to have a career that allows such flexibility. This will, ultimately, be the solution to gender equality in the workplace: Allowing both men and women the time and space to figure out how best to balance their lives with their work.

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