I think I’ve been trying to tell myself something…that being home with Elanor isn’t enough.
I went to go see Sex and the City 2 today. There’s a scene between Charlotte and Miranda, the only two of the four who have kids. Charlotte’s struggling with motherhood but has been insisting that everything’s fine and kids are so great and the two’s aren’t terrible AT ALL because her kid isn’t terrible! Miranda pushes Charlotte to admit that sometimes this mom thing is hard…but Char can’t bring herself to say the words.
“Okay, I’ll go first. I love Brady more than I imagined I ever could…but it’s not enough. I need a job to be fulfilled” says Miranda, or something fairly close to that.
Charlotte’s dam breaks and the two commiserate that it’s so damn hard to be a mom.
Somehow, it’s always Charlotte that gets to me. In the first movie it was how frightened of doing anything she was when she got pregnant after so many miscarriages. In this movie it was how hard she tries to assure herself that it’s all fine. Because it’s what she’s always wanted, right?
When Miranda said that she needed more, I burst into tears.
I cried through the whole conversation.
Because I’m there, too, right now.
I recently said to my friend S that I’ve always lived my life by the credo “Marriage, kids, career…at any given moment, pick two.” That you can’t actually be superwoman and still have anything left for yourself. If you’re invested in your career, don’t kid yourself that your spouse and your child(ren) will have to make some sacrifices–some missed events, less attention. I know that when I was pregnant and I was most invested in that pregnancy and my marriage, my quality as a teacher dropped–things got checks instead of individual comments, some lesson plans were totally made on the fly or were no more defined than “add fractions” because the time I would have spent doing more for work was spent at doctor’s appointments.
I grew up in the era of “You can be ANYTHING.” I am a feminist. But I also think that feminism and our moms were false prophets on the having it all front. No one has it all. Ravi gives up so much time with Elanor to work. He and I give up time with each other alone to spend time with E as a family. We made the choice to move to Singapore because ensuring a full college fund is more important to us than staying close to home. It’s all trades for what you value most…and because Ravi has sacrificed so much time with Elanor, it was only right that I step up and in as the primary caregiver.
It was so clear when she was little. When she was five months old, still on blood pressure meds, having weekly early intervention and lots of appointments, it felt VITAL that I be the one who was home with her. She needed a point person who knew the whole picture at any given second. At 19 months, barring an ER visit, it’s just not as important that it be ME who is with her.
When I allow myself to admit the truth, I’m also not that enthused about spending all day every day with her. I’m not mentally stimulated by hours upon hours of “what’s that” and watching her in her ball pit. We read, we do flash cards, we draw, we swim…and my god, we’re not even at lunch time? Her topics of discussion are limited. I can only go to the goddamned zoo so many times.
I am not a homebody. I have full time help-there are no household chores to occupy my time with (not that I like, enjoy, or have the slightest interest in doing them).
I often find myself wondering what the point of my Master’s Degree is. I put myself $90,000 USD into debt for THIS?
I could get a job in a heartbeat here. By virtue of my Americaness, I speak and write in clear and fluent English. That is a highly marketable skill here; regardless that English is theoretically the primary language–many people just don’t speak/write in English at a professional level. The fact that I’m a licensed teacher makes me highly employable as a teacher or a tutor. While the idea of spending all day with children who can actually communicate in complete sentences is slightly appealing, the truth is that I want to be around other adults. But not as a cashier or a front desk agent or anything like that…I’m not so desperate for contact that I’d willingly go back into the service industry for that kind of pay again.
I just don’t know.
I believe what I told S, whole-heartedly. And I’m not sure that I want to take any of the focus away from Elanor or Ravi. But as my emotional outburst shows, I’m also not happy.
Which leaves me…lost.
I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, other than “Not a teacher.” So even if I did want to go back full time (which I don’t) I don’t have a career to further.
I know I want another child in the next two years. And I know that I will want to be home with them for at least that first year. So I’m not in a position to go to law school or pursue my PhD or whatever, even if I could pursue it from Singapore.
I’m considering reaching out and trying to find something super part time. Maybe a volunteer position with the American Embassy (or whatever it’s technically called here). Working with professionals to help improve their colloquial English?
I still plan to do some sort of online class, but the truth is that I need a world that’s bigger than the one that Elanor’s mom and Ravi’s wife inhabits.