It's not a dirty little secret, and yet does anyone ever talk about it? I'm referring to relationships, like mine, where the man is way more maternal than the woman. I met a woman yesterday at a kid's party, I'll call her Tamara, and let's say we connected on a very deep level on this topic.
She was standing there, among the yelling three year olds and the squished Dora cake, quaffing wine as if her life depended on it. She was clad in low rise jeans, with a terrifying flat stomach for one who had borne two boys, and who, I was soon to learn, was over forty.
Rather than thinking, "You bitch, how can you have such a toned stomach?" I went up to her and, in an attempt to break the ice, said, "I see you have two boys under three, what are their names?" It was basically an opening for her to start spouting about her delightful kids.
But instead of warm gushing words of maternal pride, she said, "Oh God, yeah, it's something of a miracle that I have kids at all. The doctors told me my husband was infertile, and I was wearing an IUD just to be on the safe side, but I still got pregnant. One, I could just about cope with, but then the same thing happened again! When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I walked around for three weeks in a deep depression. I didn't really want to have the kid, but my husband was so keen, I went ahead with it."
Well. I was rather impressed by her forthright manner. Over a bottle of Chardonnay, she told me everything.
The parallels between our lives were frightening.
How she'd got married in New York at thirty-nine to her husband. Together they brought to the marriage nearly $100,000 worth of credit card debt. Spending $200 a night on sushi was, apparently, an every day occurence for this spend-happy pair.
Actually there's no direct parallel there. I didn't bring any debt into the marriage, but I did used to spend money like there was no tomorrow.
She was living in Manhattan, living a wild bohemian life as an artist, until her IUD let her down. She had the first kid and moved to Baltimore with her husband.
Parallel: I gave up a boho existance in London to move to Baltimore once I fell preggers.
First she and her husband bought a house in Hampden (a downtown neighborhood) and could walk, actually walk to shops (while I lived in a rented cockroach filled apartment). That's what she wanted (I didn't exactly want the cockroach filled apartment, but it was central). Then they moved to a suburb with a big house and a white picket fence, because the husband wanted a nice yard for the kids, while she would have been happy to stay in the narrow Hampden house and be crammed in like sardines (I moved to suburbia too, because my husband said it was a sound idea). On the upside, they sold the first house, and made such a profit that they were able to pay off their credit card debts.
"And now I'm bored out of my skull in suburbia," she said. "I do have one friend down the street who's a kindred spirit. At five thirty I'm usually on the phone to her saying, what are you doing darling, do you fancy coming over for a drink?"
"Oh brother, I know exactly how you feel," I said, pouring her another glass of wine.
"Imagine how happy my husband is now," said Tamara. "Being told all his life he was infertile, all the time dreaming of having kids. And now his dream has come true. It's me who can't cope with it, being with the kids day in day out. Kids were never part of my future."
"You're meant to say, but now the kids are here, I wouldn’t have it any other way."
She snorted. "Well, it's made my husband very happy."
It's the same with me. The kids have made my husband very happy, but they haven't made me very happy. I don't get the kick out of nurturing kids that many women seem to. Maybe I shouldn't have been a stay at home mom, but since I have no right to work, I didn't have much choice. Does that mean I don't love them? No. Does that make me a bad mother? Yes, in most people's eyes.
Tamara said, "I liked them when they were babies, but now they are growing up, I don't like being a parent, having to be consistent, having to implement boundaries."
"I know what you mean."
"Is it wrong to want to close the door on the kids, play classical music and make art while they bang on the door? Maybe, but I need to do it for my sanity."
"I'm exactly the same."
I had thought I was a bad mommy, but Tamara was way badder. She told me, "On weekends I tell my husband I'm off duty. I have a lie in and my husband looks after the kids the entire weekend. And often I drive up to Manhattan and party for the whole damn time."
Hmm, I thought. Unconventional. Some would say the husband was exploited, but the way he looked at those kids, he was madly in love, so no, I don't think he was.
Yeah, yeah, you can call her a bitch, but I think she's great. I think I'm going to be seeing her again….
The Lounge. Blogging Break.
7 minutes ago