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Monday, January 09, 2006
Child-Free Weekend
There was an article in our newspaper yesterday about couples who have chosen to remain childless. The article featured a few couples who had known since they were in college that they didn't want children, as well as a few high school seniors and college freshmen who were sure they didn't want kids, either. The article was careful to point out that all of these people liked children -- they just weren't compelled to have any of their own. Instead of raising children, these people devoted their lives to their careers, their pets, or their hobbies (e.g., one couple enjoyed flying in their spare time, and not having children allows them to get flying hours in when they can, also also allows them to spend money on their airplane and hangar space).

When I was in high school and early into my college career, I was fairly sure that I didn't want children. I couldn't imagine myself as someone's mother and I never had a strong desire to cuddle or hold a baby. I liked elementary school-aged kids because you could actually talk to them and reason with them, but toddlers generally drove me nuts with their incessant whining and questions. It wasn't until I met T that I knew I would have children -- in many respects, he changed my views on a lot of things because, for the first time, I really wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. For the first time, I saw myself as the future co-head of a family. I was excited when I found out I was pregnant with ST back in 2002.

Now it's difficult to imagine life without a child, life without this little being who copies whatever I do and wants to know my reasons for everything. It's difficult to imagine foregoing the late-night cuddles, the soft little kisses on the cheek, the impromtu basement hockey games or the invented "tackle frisbee" games in the backyard. Last night I put ST to bed at around 8:15pm and then came into my office (right across from his room) to read. After about an hour, I went to check on him and he was still awake, lying quietly in his bed with one arm behind his head. "I can't sleep. Let's rock a little," he suggested. I agreed, and I sat down in his rocker while he retrieved his "napping blanket" and clambered onto my lap. I love these times, love these conversations. "Dad never rocks with me," ST said, yawning. When I asked him why, he said "Because Dad's too big. I like that you're little, like me, so we can rock together." I cannot imagine missing out on statements like that.

I don't always love being a mom. Sometimes it's really frustrating and it's far and away the hardest thing I've ever done. Sometimes I get angry at him because I don't get to do all of the things I want to do -- I wanted to bake a loaf of braided challah bread this weekend, for example, but kept being interrupted -- and I get worn down because I don't have a lot of time for myself or time alone with T. T and I get short with ST when he won't leave us alone for a few minutes to talk or cuddle. ST is not good at playing by himself -- he never has been. That's taxing on a parent when there are no other children in the house. And it's emotionally heart-rending when your toddler tells you, "Mom, I'm not your friend today because you won't make me hot chocolate." Sometimes, I can really understand the appeal of child-free living.

At times, T and I feel like we're at a breaking point -- when we have a lot to talk about and no time away from ST to talk about things, and when we're both working insane hours to get things accomplished and don't see each other often, we both start to go a little crazy and get short with each other and with ST. I can feel that we're getting to that point now.

Fortunately, relief is in sight. T has decided that he and I are going to go, alone, to New Town (home of Smallish Midwestern University) in Midwestern State. We're going to find a nice hotel to stay in, have dinners out, take long walks together, and scope out potential neighborhoods. We're going to have fun while my parents are here at our house with ST. T called my Mom last night and hashed out all of the details and surprised me with the mini-trip idea this morning. I cannot wait! We're going to be away the first weekend in February.

We might not have an airplane waiting in the hangar, but it's nice to know that we can take time to get away in our own fashion. Although life with ST is generally fantastic and we couldn't ask for a more wonderful child, a few days to remember what it was like when it was just the two of us is definitely in order.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 1/09/2006 01:20:00 PM  
9 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger phd me said…

    I don't have kids, but I completely understand what you're saying. Sometimes I wonder if I have the patience to have a child. It's so hard for me to accomplish anything with little people around and I need my quiet space.

    And good for T!! I always wonder about couples who never get away from their children (okay, "get away" sounds a little negative but you get the gist). My bestest friend has two children (8 and 2) and they have never been left overnight with anyone. Never. That cannot be good for Mom and Dad, but they don't appear to be cracking up yet. Still, I don't think I could do it.

    Your trip sounds great!

  • At 2:45 PM, Blogger Leah said…

    What a wonderful husband! And what a great idea for a getaway, checking out your future home like that. Finding time for yourself as a couple (and as a person) can be difficult but it's pretty much essential.

  • At 2:58 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    I'm with you. Being a father is such a wonderful treat, when you get those little tidbits of delight. The other day, my two sons and I were driving back from a small "museum" we often visit. The one-year old was peacefully sleeping, when we passed by one of the three-year-old's favorite haunts. "Daddy, you and I have to go to ________ sometime." "Just you and daddy," I asked. "Yeah, because I love daddy, and you do such wondeful things!" I told him he sure knew how to butter someone up. Then I asked if he knew what that meant. "Yeah, sure, that means when you put butter aaaaall over them."

    You can't beat that. I can't imagine not being a dad anymore. But, there sure are times that I want a day off. Parenting is, for me, far harder than writing the dissertation ever was. It's good to be reminded sometimes that we all feel that way. It's a real blessing that you have parents nearby. We live more than 1000 miles from the boys grandparents. I hope the new job won't take you too far.

  • At 5:43 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    Thanks for the comments!

    ArticulateDad, actually, my parents live eight hours away but are making the trip to stay with ST that weekend. So I'm VERY lucky in that I have parents who are willing to travel to spend time with their, as they put it, "perfect grandson."

  • At 7:32 AM, Blogger BrightStar said…

    sounds like a fantastic idea for a trip!

  • At 9:49 AM, Blogger Peri said…

    Good for you! I've got two little ones and I am about as jealous as I can be. What a smart and fun way to begin your transition to a new community.

  • At 1:19 PM, Blogger ArticulateDad said…

    Wow, 8 hours for a weekend. Kudos to them. What a treat. Enjoy your trip.

    We decided to get an au pair this year. Considering the cost of daycare for two little ones (and not really liking the idea of putting the one year old in a group daycare so young), it's not really all that more expensive, and we have the added bonus of the cultural exchange. She arrived in October. We try to have a date about once a week. Just getting out the house for a walk along the coast and dinner for a few hours is rejuvenating.

  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    ArticulateDad, what a great idea about the au pair! The other woman in my "new" department and her husband have hired an au pair from Germany, and they said it's working out wonderfully. It's something I will definitely consider, especially if we have another child soon (which we hope to do). If you have a moment, I'd love to hear more about it, the agency you used, what the au pair does, the cost, etc. You can dash off an email to academeblog at gmail dot com.

  • At 10:20 AM, Blogger academic coach said…

    I'm very jealous. Having parents or other caregivers so you can get away for the weekend is wonderful. Sigh.

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