“She doesn’t want to leave, she just wonders if there’s life out there…”
I heard this old Reba song on the radio this evening, when I was alone. I’m rarely alone in the car. It’s like a miniature vacation. As a stay at home Mom, I relate to the words in the song. As a woman who married at 21 years old to the only boy she ever dated, I relate again to the words in that song. As someone who constantly wonders what could have been if her life had gone differently, I relate to the words in that song. I often write about my kids and why wouldn’t I? My kids are literally everything I do. I don’t have a profession outside of the home, I don’t have many personal goals because my time, energy and talents are put into theirs. No, it probably shouldn’t be this way, but when you have four kids going in different directions and a husband who you also try to provide for while he provides for our family, little time is left to be me.
13 years ago, I was fresh out of high school and just about to start college. I was going to get an English teaching degree and I was going to be the high school teacher who all the kids liked, but also demanded their best work. They would do that willingly because I was so awe inspiring. I was going to be Mr. Keating, think Robin Williams character in “Dead Poet’s Society”. I was going to challenge and engage. I was going to bring out the best in my students. I would eventually marry and have kids because a wife and Mom was definitely something I wanted. I would have it all! Funny how life has a way of kicking you right in the behind and letting you know your plans are garbage.
Instead, I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant 4 weeks into college. So, plans changed. I didn’t know what the future held, but I knew that I was going to have a baby and babies cost money. I left school and started working full time, even beyond full time. My high school boyfriend and I moved in together and to put it mildly, it was hell. We fought about anything and everything. We were young and immature. I was resentful that all my hopes and dreams were being put on hold. I was the one who was having a baby. I was getting fat and he was going to fraternity parties. I was having a baby shower and he was cramming for finals and then celebrating when they were over. He hung out with his friends and I learned the hard way who was truly my friend. We broke up and made up more times than I can count and then our baby was born. Believe it it not, that didn’t fix everything. HaHa!
After a few years of breaking up and making up, we grew up a little bit. Well, I guess we did. We got married when I was 21 and he was 22. I didn’t marry him out of obligation, if that was the case I would have married him 3 years earlier. I loved him and I wanted to spend my life with him. I wanted to have more children with him. I wanted to walk through life with him. It doesn’t mean those decisions were never second guessed. At 21, I married my high school sweetheart and just 13 months later, I had twin boys and was virtually forced into being a Stay At Home Mom. Childcare for 3 under 3 was no joke. All of the sudden the girl that dreamed of teaching English and changing kids lives had her own mini class that she was home with day in and day out. The woman I dreamed of being was a distant memory. We moved to Surburbia and got a dog. Six years later, we had our fourth and final child. I’m 31 now and all I have known is motherhood. While I do my best to find time to be me, I am a mother. It’s a title I do not take for granted. I do my best thinking when I’m alone in the car, I mean minivan. I’m a mother of four, I won’t drive a car again for a long time, I dream about who I was supposed to be. It’s not that I dislike being a stay at home mom. Actually, I love the job I do.
I just wonder what it would have been like to live in a dorm. I wonder how awesome traveling abroad could have been. I wonder what it would have been like to walk into a classroom that was all mine. I wonder what it would have been like to marry and go on a honeymoon. Oh, a honeymoon! Why do I get so insanely jealous of those who have had a honeymoon? Maybe because I am quickly approaching my ten year anniversary and can count on one hand the number of times my husband and I have been alone overnight. I wanted to plan our first child. People who get to surprise their parents with a birth announcement for their first grandchild, don’t take for granted how wonderful that opportunity is. I was scared to tell my parents about their first grandchild. It was actually one of the hardest things I have ever done.
I don’t want to change anything about my life, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about what could have been. I know a lot of young Moms who went on to finish school and kudos to them. That wasn’t in the cards for me, at least not back then. I worked full time, my boyfriend stayed in school. He got the good job and I’ve stayed home. Plus, I knew that if I tried to do school and be a Mom, I would fail at one of those things and I figured I shouldn’t chance failing at motherhood, so I gave up school. Ironically enough, some days I still fail at motherhood. The system my husband and I have works, but it’s lonely. I am not seeking sympathy. My guess is some women look at my life and long for my silly complaints. That doesn’t change that I fact that sometimes I just want to get in the car (minivan) alone and drive until I’m out of gas, then fill up and continue.
However the day will come that my youngest child starts school. The day will come that I have no little people in this house during the day. I’ll be in my mid thirties and attempting to join the work force or even more intimidating, go back to school. The day will come where I’ll be able to not only imagine what I could do “out there”, but actually try and achieve it. The day will come that I’ll be alone in that car, I mean minivan. What frightens me more than anything else at this moment in time? Facing the real world outside the walls of my two story house. The opportunity to be myself again is paralyzing. That’s what motherhood does, you lose yourself and find yourself simultaneously. Having time to achieve what I want and chase goals I have, new or old is so daunting of a task. I know that day will come and I’ll hit it like a car to a brick wall. However, that day isn’t today. I have laundry, cleaning and errands to run. I have toddler cuddles to enjoy while we watch Minions. I’m sure the 12 year old has something on the agenda to fight about with me and I can’t wait to see how much the middle two hate what we’re having for dinner. Maybe after everyone is in bed and the house is somewhat quiet, I’ll go upstairs to my room and open a book, “The Great Gatsby”, “Fahrenheit 451”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, or one of so many other classics I have in my arsenal and think about what it would have been like to teach them. No wait. “In Cold Blood”, that’s the book I’ll choose.