Sunday, June 30, 2013

What if no one called me Mom?

For the past week and a half, I've been kidless. I'm not used to that, and in the weeks leading up to my "alone time," I worried how I was going to fill the days.

That was pretty much answered for me, what with my mom's unexpected brain surgery less than four weeks ago, a job search that I've taken on like a bull charges a red cape, and a mountain of freelance work that's kept me busy every single minute of the day. As I prepare for my kids' return, filling the fridge, getting caught up on laundry and scheduling out our next months worth of who has to be where, it makes me think: what would my life be like without kids?

See the watermark on this photo?
Yeah, that's because it's not REAL.
I've said it before - having kids was never really on my bucket list, nor was getting married. I never fancied myself as a wife or as a parent. The whole wife thing never really worked out (although I think I'm a pretty good girlfriend, and could be a great wife under the right circumstances,) and the parenting thing was definitely one of those experiences that I learned on the fly - and continue to do so.

Sometimes I'll hear of these people - couples or singles - who are jet setting all over the world, whether for vacation or for work. I listen to others tell me how they picked up and moved to some wonderful location just because they wanted to. Or they have some amazing hobby that either requires constant training, honing, and usually lots of money. My first question is, "Do they have kids?" Because damn. There's no way I could do that stuff with two minors living under my roof - especially as a single parent. I mean, I probably could, but I wouldn't exactly be receiving any Parent of the Year awards. But I'll admit - it makes me a tad envious.

This would be me - thin, maybe blond
and with bitchin' pink luggage.
If I didn't have kids, I'm not sure where I'd be. Before there was anyone of any significance in my life, I was the epitome of a career woman, working at a large medical manufacturer by day, and returning home to my cat in an upper duplex in an old neighborhood on the north side of Milwaukee. To me, that was success. Living on my own, making it happen - very Mary Tyler Moore-esque. I'm pretty sure it would have gotten old, but for the time I did it, it was magical.

This may or may not have been me.
But if it were, I'd be badass.
If I didn't have kids, I'd probably by now be in some upper-level job somewhere, having dedicated my life to my career. I'd have an older, charming home in a quaint area of town, with no restrictions such as school districts, sidewalks, or family-friendly neighborhoods. I might serve on the board of some volunteer organization, or at least somewhat immersed in their cause. I'd take vacations to places where I would challenge myself to learn new things such as rock climbing, rappelling or white water rafting. Those of course would be balanced out by girl trips to exotic beaches or wineries and work trips to big cities here in the country and overseas. In my dream job, I'd write for a travel magazine, and they'd send me to fantastic places to live for short periods of time so I could write about the city, the culture and the people.

And I'd probably be looking at people like me like I look at the woman I just described. Wondering, what would it be like to have kids? What did I miss? Did I make the right decision?

That's the good thing. As much as I wonder "what would life have been like without kids," I never wonder if I made the right decision. My life may not have turned out the way I had planned (does anyone's?) but my kids are my constant. My grounding. My answer to any questions I have at the end of the day about why my life is the way it is.

I may not be the model parent. I certainly never wanted my kids to be children of divorce, and that label they carry will always haunt me. I may never have that high-paying, upper-level job in a career that I devote myself to 24/7 (when I'm not flying to some exotic vacation destination.) I may never see all the places I read about, or have all the exciting adventures that I could have had as a kidless person. But you know what? When I thumb through old pictures of my kiddos cradled in my arms, or sitting on my lap, or learning to walk, or getting on the bus for their first day of school or standing proud at their graduation ... or when I look at them now - watching their tall, lanky forms run out the front door with nary a "Bye, Mom," I have no regrets.

THIS is me. Mom of two, beautiful boys.
I have no regrets. I raised two human beings. I'm still raising two human beings. And I can think of no exotic vacation, expensive hobby, high-paying job or fantastical adventure that could possibly compare to the last 16 years of my life. My kids are my life - maybe sometimes too much so of my life, but I make no apologies for that. One day, they will have lives of their own, and will choose or not choose to get married. Choose or not choose to have children of their own. And I'll have plenty of time to work, to travel, and to have maybe not the adventures I've dreamed of, but adventures nonetheless.

I may not ever have the wife title, but I'll always be "Mom." And for now, that's more than enough for me.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautifully written piece and speaks volumes about what I feel (and hope) is contentment in the choices you have made. It is interesting because for awhile women were told we could "have it all" and the real experience (I feel) is that we can't, every one of us sacrifices something. It is not necessarily bad, unless you are not somehow allowed a choice. My husband was in the military and we moved every three years. Plus he was deployed 6-15 months at a time. He was in the service when we married so I knew what I was getting into and I wanted to be with him more than stay in one spot to climb a career ladder. And I was the only parent the children had at home for great lengths of time so I wanted to be there for them too. Sometimes I wondered "what if??" but I know I chose wisely and I am content with the choices I made.


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