Guest post by Trisha Adams
A Little Background Music
During the first week of April 2006 my husband and I made a life changing decision. We were going to try to have our first child. At the time I was a part-time student working towards my BSEE and by the end of that semester I would have 12 more classes until completion, so about a year and a half. My SIL told me it took her well over a year to get pregnant and so with that knowledge my husband and I actively began baby making. I was under the impression that since it was going to take so long that I had plenty of time to finish my course work. It was the beginning of the realization that pregnancy and motherhood is very much an individualized and circumstantial situation.
It was in my opinion the hottest day of June 2006 and my mother was visiting in time to go to the Lowell Folk Festival. I’d been looking forward to it after having a friend introduce me to the festival the year before. My husband, my mom, and I leave the house to meet up with the same friend. We lived within walking distance of downtown Lowell and we were all complaining about the heat. After about 10 minutes of walking around the festival I had to call it quits. I was feeling sick from the heat and just couldn’t take it anymore. To end this quickly a few days later I finally took a pregnancy test. Yep, positive. So much for it taking over a year to conceive.
I spent the summer working for the Museum of Science, Boston and started the fall semester taking four courses. Things were great; I started out the semester strong and was confident I’d be able to get through the semester just fine despite being pregnant. I told two of my Professors about my pregnancy and they were great about it. In fact my only female teacher that semester gushed about how productive she was during her last two trimesters and that once I got past the first trimester I’d be golden. She confessed that she loved being pregnant. I was giddy and couldn’t wait for that 2nd wind to come. I waited, and waited, and had trouble retaining the information I was reading for class, and developed test anxiety, and became a crier.
I had to hang in the towel the day I had two exams (I was about four months pregnant at this time). I was not truly prepared for one but the other I had spent the time working problems and making sure I thoroughly understood the concepts. I was prepared and figured between classes I could better prepare for the 2nd exam of the day. I got to class, by that time I had gotten used to feeling flushed during that 8am class so I thought nothing of it. The TA handed out the exam. I wrote my name and proceeded to flip through it quickly and stared at the first problem. My brain had become a blank slate, I began sweating even more and was barely keeping it together not to breakdown in sobs. I didn’t even bother staying on campus for the 2nd exam. I went home cried and withdrew. I admitted defeat and thus began my struggle with how I felt I was identified.
An Introduction to a New Genre
Health wise my pregnancy was relatively easy. I did have some food aversions and got a little stir crazy that I couldn’t have a turkey and swiss sandwich but otherwise uneventful. Emotionally I was feeling like a failure because I had only made it through half of the semester. My self worth was taken down another notch when my family decided that I shouldn’t have a baby shower while I was visiting for Christmas that year. My mother tried to force the issue and told them that it was unreasonable to expect me to take the four-hour drive from MA to NY while I was eight months pregnant but they insisted that six months was too early for a baby shower. I thanked my mother, sulked and raged. As an aside; a dear friend of mine and her husband will forever have a huge place in my heart for throwing a day to celebrate my daughter after she was about a month old. Even now I tear up about it, seriously I’m going to have to wipe the tears away soon.
My daughter was born in March 2006 and I joined the ranks of stay-at-home-moms. I never dreamed in a million years that would be the case. It wasn’t what I grew up with so the idea never crossed my mind that it would be my situation, but it was. The concept didn’t bother me. After all to my friends I was still me, not my husband’s wife or my daughter’s mother. I was planning to go back to school part-time in the fall and ready to work out daycare. Unfortunately plans changed and in August 2006 we moved to FL.
A Change in Tempo
I spent my first 18 years of life growing up in Queens, NY, the better part of a decade in Boston, MA and a little under a year in Lowell, MA. I was a city girl. I didn’t get my drivers license until I was 25. I believe in public transportation and pedestrian friendly neighborhoods. Now I was in unfamiliar territory. I had to worry about insects and alligators. I had to drive everywhere. There were places that didn’t have sidewalks and street lamps. Worst off I only knew two people.
When you move to a place where you only know a handful of people and everyone else you meet is a co-worker of your husband you become “your husband’s name here’s wife, your name here”. When you stroll around your neighborhood in the middle of the day you will eventually encounter other SAHMs. You will be “your name here, your child’s name here’s mom”. And then the conversation begins to revolve around your children and you forget that the person you are talking to is not merely a PR rep. for their children but a woman who has accomplished things prior to being a mother and may have plans for herself that does not center around her children.
I think there is a misconception around staying at home. I think we have been told that as mother’s we should sacrifice ourselves whole-heartedly and have a child centric universe. What greater sacrifice is there than dropping everything to be with your child 24/7 for at minimum the next five years? I am probably about to commit some sort of SAHM blasphemy by saying this, but really? Is it really reasonable to be under the expectation that just because you decided to have a child(ren) you want to give up your sense of self and any plans you have for yourself? I stay at home but it would not have been my first option. It is what works for my family and our situation right now.
This is the perspective I am coming from. My daughter is now four and her little brother is due August 2011. I have since transferred to the nearby state university and have every intention of finishing my final two courses and claiming that BSEE that was been long in the works this December.