Wednesday, 7 February 2007

the nest

I have two kids, one is four and my daughter will be three next month.

My first pregnancy was not planned.

In fact, I hadn't planned on ever having kids.

The very thought of becoming a mother was an utterly terrifying concept to me, and one I hoped never to entertain. Harsh I know.

Until I became a mother, I had not one moment of prior experience. I had held one baby bosses, and the baby was kind of thrust into my inwardly refusing, quivering arms, with me awkwardly holding the baby at arms length and, no doubt, with an expression of complete and total fear, smeared across my horrified face.

It was not that I disliked children, I just felt that I lacked experience, was totally clueless and would probably be a screw up as a parent, and didn't want to be held responsible for my own child's misery; besides...I had plans, and a career to plunge into.

I graduated from university 7 months pregnant.

Only one person in my graduating class knew I was pregnant, which is a bit surprising, not to mention insulting, that no one happened to notice the protruding belly (ha ha), but I didn't want anyone to know. I thought I might be discriminated against, in my pursuit of a career. Yes, career, career, career...that was all I thought and dreamt about.

Once I had my baby boy, I was a nervous, unconfident, puddle of insecurity, but I coped, and I learnt - that is all you can do really - mothering is the ultimate, on-the-job-training experience. I lacked support, from extended family and friends. I really was alone, and though everyday I felt I had fallen short, as a parent (and mostly still do), I wasn't the total screw up I thought I might be.

I had a second baby straight away, deluded that I should get the reproductive phase of my life over with, so I can get on with that blessed career, that somehow kept eluding me.

The second baby was a dream child, and at the time, my husband was feeling rather disillusioned at work and so we were talking about doing a role reversal thing - he stay at home with the kids, and went after that career I had been longing didn't work out.

I went for the dream job. I got to the final cut...but I didn't get it. Then opportunities came up for my husband to work in Canada. He was successful in his bid, we moved, and ironically, I have visa restrictions preventing me from working in my field.

It is funny how fate works sometimes...(NOT funny "ha ha"), and I have spent many years coming to terms with the why's of all this....

My children are older now...still young, but older. My eldest will be starting kindergarten in the fall and my youngest will be starting pre-school. I have decided to put my sensitive, panicky and, at home, dominating son in an afternoon kindergarten class, so his sister gets as much focus and concentration from me, regarding her morning pre-school class. I could have placed them both in morning classes and took the 2 hour break - the first in 5 years- but I think it is more important that my youngest gets her needs met, as she commences this new level of independence.

If you allow me to digress just a little....I have gotten to know one family here in town. They have a son who attends pre-school with my son. They also have a daughter, who will be in pre-school with my daughter. The boys, along with the girls, both get along quite well. Although my daughter is still pretty shy with others and clings to me a bit, just for reassurance until she feels comfortable - its normal behaviour.

I have gotten to know the Dad a bit. He is a stay at home Dad, and like me -the foreigner, he doesn't really fit in with the clichey local mothers. He is nice, and I have gotten to know his lovely wife now, too.

My son has gone over to this family's house for play dates, and their son has come over to our house for the same. I even had the little girl over for a couple of hours while the boys were in pre-school.

Tonight however, I got a call from The Dad, asking if my son would like to go over on Friday, for a play date, and perhaps stay for dinner. My son would definitely love that, he did go over for dinner with the family once before and had a ball...I missed him though. Then The Dad extended the invitation to my daughter, who has never been to any one's house by herself. Man, I could feel the tension in the wholeness of my being. Every morsel of myself was screaming "NOOOOOO, don't take my baby".

I started spluttering and back peddling like I was on a moped careering toward a pack of sleeping lions. I told him I would have to "think about it" - boy, in hindsight that was really rude. It is not that I don't' trust the family, it is just that...I (pathetically) don't know what I am going to do with myself for all that time, by myself! I haven't allowed myself to think of my future beyond full time care, yet. There was no point. I have let my career aspirations drift away. I am no longer that same person. I am a changed person due to my parenting experience...for the better I think...And secondly, I am just not ready to let my baby go just yet...not for all that time, anyway.

So I think I am going to retract my acceptance of the invitation for Mister to stay for dinner, and suggest he and his sister play for a few hours, and I pick them both up at 5pm. It would make me feel more comfortable, and I will still have to find something to do with myself during those few hours, but it won't be for as long.

It is ironic that I had once thought the idea of me as a mother totally abhorrent, and now I can't let them go...I love them.


Tracey said...

Oh yes, I know what you mean... Different scenario with me - I'd lost track of any career aspirations before I got pregnant, but I am sure I still thought I'd go back to work at some point. I was never that petrified of other babies, but also not particularly clucky either... And thus I was totally unprepared for my feelings about leaving my baby. Not even at 12 months.. The very thought of putting her in care and working turned me into a blithering mess. I was very surprised that I felt that strongly about it.

Fortunately my first one was very independent. I could have waited for the community based preschool at 3 years old, but by 2 and a half, she was so rearing to get into something, I sent her to a child care place one day a week which she loved. Nothing ever fazed her. [As I comment here I'm thinking of different scenarios that occured with the subsequent kids that made me feel bad.. but I won't go into them here, else my comments turn into a post of their own!!]

What career were you headed for strauss? I was going to ask that after another post or comment somewhere actually...

strauss said...

Yes Tracey I too was totally taken by surprise at how strongly I felt about wanting to be the one to care for my kids, especailly when I had debate teh fact with my very clucky friend and told her - year before I had kids- that I would NEVER be a SAHM - never say never, hey!
I am a trained social worker. My special interest was refugee and human rights issues. My dream was to be accepted into the Civil Defense Graduate Program in Canberra and then move into the a position with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.
The Graduate programs are highly competitive, so I was lucky to get as far as I did in the process, was not to be.

shishyboo said...

It's a funny thing, letting go.

I put my little one into childcare one day a week when she was 8 months so I could have some time out (though she's only 500 metres down the road from home).

It was very liberating but the first day I felt like I was just rattling around home with nothing to do.

Little Miss loves going to childcare and though I'm glad she is very independent, there's a tiny part of me that likes to feel needed. Her excitement when I collect her makes up for it.

I imagine it will be a different case when it is the child's choice to do something without me, like going to a friend's house for tea. No doubt I will feel very much like you do.

Sadly it's all part of them growing up, we can't keep our babies forever *sniff*

strauss said...

To update that playdate/dinner thing. My daughter said she didn't want ot go with out me so it was a non issue after all. I instead invited the little girl over and she stayed for dinner while the boys playedo ver at the other place - everyone was happy, especially Mum;)