This one's been brewing for a while and it's not quite *there* yet. But here's the beginning.
Part 1 ~
Growing up, I never daydreamed about getting married or having children. Not that I didn't think I would, it's just that is not how my brain is wired. I don't envision things far into the future. I can't create a mental picture of my husband and I growing old just like I couldn't create a picture of what my wedding would be like or what motherhood entail back when I was younger. Once MacGyver proposed, I was definitely able to conjure up ideas and visions for my wedding but I didn't sit around as a tween and daydream about it. My practical side overpowers the creative side of my brain more often than not.
The same thing goes for parenting. I knew I would have children - that was never in doubt. I wanted children. But it was very much an abstract concept to me. For my first wedding anniversary, my mother-in-law gave me a Creative Memories scrapbooking set and that set me off on the scrapbooking adventure that swept the country back in the late 90s. I loved the idea of scrabooking and acquiring all of the cool gadgets, papers, stickers, and other elements - the stuff - was FUN. I even dabbled in selling scrabooking supplies until the company went belly-up. I scrapped my wedding photos, my husband's early Army career, my daughter's first 3-4 years, and my son's first year. And I found that scrapbooking - though it looks like a lot of fun in the pictures and articles - is a lot of work, especially for a hobby! And life (and Army moves) has a way of getting in the way of hobbies and my scrapbooking was shelved (no pun intended) to make way for, well...life. But the STUFF was cool!
For me, the idea of becoming a parent was a lot like the idea of scrapbooking - lots of fun to acquire the stuff that goes along with it but the reality was that it was work! I loved the idea of becoming a parent - baby snuggles, bathtime fun, adorable clothes and toys, walks in the park, play dates and crafts, and so on. My idea of parenthood looked a lot like a Pinterest board - all of the cute and none of the reality.
For those that don't know me, I am a relatively independent person (stop laughing). I realize this is probably quite the statement of the obvious but there might be one or two people that don't realize just how independent I am. I blame my mother for it is how she raised me. And the Army has solidified that part of my personality, if not magnified it. MacGyver and I were married for 4 years before The Girl came along. I loved being responsible solely for myself during that time. If I needed to stay late at work, I did. If I needed some time to myself (I grew up as an only child...there are times when I CRAVE alone time like an addict craves a drug) I took it. My time was my own and - aside from courtesy toward my husband in checking with him before I took off on my own - I didn't have anyone to answer to or worry about in my absence. It's not like I took off for weeks at a time. We lived in Fairbanks, Alaska - there really wasn't anywhere TO go. But I could head to Fred Meyer or Borders in the mall and lose myself for a bit without worrying about responsibilities at home. Or, if I needed to go see my parents, there was just one plane ticket to purchase and I didn't have to arrange child care or meals or anything like that. I could just GO.
Then my daughter came along. Aside from a few hiccups (and a milk protein allergy) in the first few weeks, she was quite an easy baby. And yet, I resented being 'tied down'. Not TOO much but it was there, simmering under the surface. As many military spouses (and other SAHMs) can attest to, it was made worse by the fact that my husband 'got' to go to work and I was 'stuck' at home with a baby (a baby that I wanted but that didn't factor into my mindset at the time. I was hormonal. Don't judge.). He was able to interact with other adults whereas I had given up my teaching position to stay home and my interaction with other adults was limited to phone calls and the gate guards on post. Those first 6 months were tough but we made it through and I settled in to parenthood pretty well at that point. Found my groove, so to speak. It helps that The Girl also figured out how to sleep through the night around that time. I'm sure there is a correlation. She was fun - and CUTE - and I enjoyed showing her off and playing with her and watching her grow. But the reality of parenthood did not even come close to the ideal image I had conjured up in my brain.
More to come soon!
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