This shouldn't be easier

Fishbowl of life. This fish watched me my entire dinner.  So weird.

I had my wisdom teeth removed last Friday and spent the weekend in an opiate haze I struggled against despite having spent the better part of my undergraduate college career looking for exactly that sensation.  Hawk was supposed to be back in my arms on Sunday, but there was too much pain and too little thought process to make that happen, so he went back to Rooster on Monday and I missed out on 3 wonderful, little-person-filled days with him.

So there I was, toothless, kidless, and jobless all last week -- friends called on me, the internet entertained me, I scoured the internet for jobs whenever I was sober enough to do so -- when I got involved in conversations about balance, life, motherhood, relationships, and self.  Luckily I was 100% sober by then.

I'm miserable, but I'm also extremely happy.  Rooster and I are very certain this is the right thing to do, and as we proceed with all the divorce minutiae I wonder why the price has to be so high for this feeling of individuation, freedom, and excitement.  The weeks I don't have Hawk I am Jessica: all me all the time and it always felt utterly out of reach when I was in a pair.

I come and go as I please; see whomever I choose for however long I like; wake up and go to bed as I see fit; eat ice cream for dinner and stay up till 3 watching Murder She Wrote.

It's not as if I didn't or couldn't do these things when I was living with Rooster, I just never gave myself permission.  Why does it seem like couples worker harder and get less relief with two adults in the house than single parents on their own?? 

I have a theory on this (of course).  Lauren of Hobo Mama happened to post an article yesterday that really spoke to me.  I've been harping on the isolation of a SAHM for a while (how a mother is isolated, has no sense of self in this economy, all the while being pitted against other mothers), so it's always a boon for me to see it in published form and embraced by the general public.  So that's what's going on for the mama in the pair.

But here's the thing.  I don't want women the world over to have to separate from their partners just to get some breathing room and to feel like a grown up.  There has to be a middle ground and clearly Rooster and I had no idea how to make that happen and neither do any of my friends.  It wasn't until I left the building that he was able to spread his parenting wings and really take over for me.  I get that marriage and relationships are hard, but are we making them harder than they have to be by simply not giving ourselves permission to leave the house if that's what we really need to do? 

Or maybe it was a product of my personality and relationship... I don't know... what I do know is y'all are working really fucking hard and now I feel like I'm cruising.  Sure, I'm crushed with fear and stress about my employment situation, but over all, I am free.  And Rooster is free, too.  He can go mountain biking whenever he wants, or go for long rides on his motorcycle with no fear of my reproach because I want him home due to exhaustion.

I guess it's all about permission.  Couples need to embrace the idea that their partner has varying needs and then take it a step further and give them permission to pursue satisfying them -- whatever they may be.  Some mothers might need a lot of socializing time outside of the home and her baby; another might need to earn money; a father might need to be able to sit in his underwear and watch the game uninterrupted for an entire weekend.

We have to give everyone permission to find relief or else.  Literally.  There is always an "or else."  Not necessarily divorce or separation, but damage is done, certainly.

All this from listening to and watching my fellow friends struggle under the [self-inflicted and socially adopted] oppressive demands of being a parent.  It's not just the mothers who are suffocating.  I know the fathers are, too.  I'm here to tell you, though, that by 3 years old it does get better.  The kids might be ready for a pre-school or other organized activities (if that's gonna be your route) and you can breathe lighter and spread your adult-wings.  And I'm also here to beg you to find someone to watch your child overnight so you and your partner can go out and just be John and Peg, or Sally and Sarah, or whomever.  Not Mommy, not Daddy, not a butt-wiping, life-saving, cooking, cleaning, thinking-five-steps-ahead-at-all-times, parent.  Just. YOU.

It's such a weird position to be in these days, an outside observer of the nuclear family.  I get the definite sense my partnered friends look at my life with envy -- and I do, too.  Of course they also look at me with pity, and -- quite frankly -- I do, too.  Guilty on both counts.  In any case, we all need to look more closely at our system and our relationships if what I'm doing feels better than what I had.  It shouldn't.  It just shouldn't.


  1. Just wrote this long comment while sharing this article, so I will copy & paste herein:

    I feel like I have to give permission not only to my partner but to MYSELF and not seek permission *from him* to be myself. I sometimes use what I perceive as his inconvenience or (imagined) lack of support to get out of doing something challenging I actually really want to do. I agree with you: It shouldn't take a divorce to realize that and to find time for ourselves as people and not just mothers.

    Tangenting now: I really appreciate the insight you've given here. I remember the first time I went back to ballet class when Mikko was a toddler, and how freeing and scary and exhilirating it was to be ME for an hour and a half.

  2. I've been doing this mothering thing for 2 yrs now, and it is hard to make that time for myself. Since I work full-time, I tend to feel all my time away from work should be with my daughter. But, I've realized I need time just for me and my interests, not just away from the kiddo.

    As for relationships, I've been married for 6 yrs, and I've often wondered why people always say it's hard work. Not because my relationship is completely without conflict, but because when there is conflict we talk about it, find a solution if we can or compromise, and we continue down our path. I don't think relationships should be hard, and communicating clearly is the best way to make them easier.

  3. I can agree with all you say!! When I separated from my husband 3 years ago I had a 15 month old and a 2 1/2 year old and I felt relief and freedom! 3 years later I feel like I am myself again. I think we have the best of both worlds. My ex stays over 1-2 nights a week just to be with the kids, then he has them at his place every saturday night. I have my place and my money, he has his place and his money. We each have our own lives, but we come together regularly as a family and the kids love it. I think we understand each other much better now and actually enjoy each other's company more than we ever did. I think we can both be better parents because we are happier with ourselves.