Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reflections on my last days as an at-home mother

Another step down the path:

Make decision       check
inform husband     check

long latency
lo-o-o-ong latency

look for work     check
apply for jobs     check
inform sons        (sigh) check
obtain job and start date     check
husband's trip corresponds with trial run for rotation     check
3 nights at friend's home to complete trial run for separate living rotation   check

Remaining to do:

1st day at work
formally begin separate living rotation 3 nights on, 3 off
get established in this rhythm
find another place (rather than doing rotation at a friend's)
take care of legal details of divorce

This morning I'm very conscious that this is my next-to-the-last morning to wake as an at-home mother. 

Child development research posits 9 temperamental characteristics.  Among other things these affect the ease with which transitions are made.  I approach the boundary from one life into the next.  The circle of my at-home-mom life has already intersected the circle of work-out-of-the-home-mom life, the shadow of the latter looming over the (soon to be) former.  Transitions aren't easy for me; I don't negotiate them gracefully.

Already one of my feet is in the working world, and I feel longing for the world of at-home mom. Yet the longing is tinged with irony because I appreciated at-home-momming most when my kids were in school so I could be alone.  I regret that I didn't enjoy my children, and their presences more when I was home full time.  I regret that I wasn't better at that job.

As companion to this regret I also feel sorrow in surrendering my alone time for professional life.

My hope is that my solitary reflection and writing time has served its purpose.  I thought my alone time was to help me to recover from the demands of children in the context of an unhappy and unsupportive marriage.  I thought the purpose was to have some uninterrupted thinking time to consider if my unhappiness was my fault.  I thought the purpose was to write my pain and name it so it was more bearable.  In all these ways my alone time has served me.

But it's done more.  It has enabled me to discern the shape of the Pattern that has been at the core of my life, and present from the beginning.  It's a Pattern that has required my participation, which I ably gave in the form of self-doubt.  I had to doubt myself and my own visceral feelings, intuitions in order to stay in service to the pattern.  At one time the pattern served to keep me in subjection to authority, and religion reinforced the bonds.  It probably served a survival function at a time when displeasing adults could be harshly punished,  yet persisted beyond its usefulness..  Once it was a strategy to keep me in line when I very much needed to stay in  line:  I was very afraid of pain.  If my feelings and intuitions conflicted with the demands of others it was dangerous to maintain my truth.  If I could poison the well of my own truth, by accusing it of being selfish, self-serving, stupid, or just plain WRONG, then it was easier to submit.  Sadly the strategy became habitual, and became a part of me.  Some form of it has manifested in nearly every area of my life and my marriage is its current embodiment.  The only way I can continue in this marriage is by continuing to poison my own well, doubting the legitimacy of my feelings and intuitions.  To stay in this marriage, I stay in Pattern.  And I say no to Pattern.

Perhaps to uncover these insights, and use them as a basis for decision, has been the reason for the hunger for so much time alone.  Perhaps I no longer need this solitary time and it has served its purpose.


Quiet Dreams said...

I see so much of myself in your words.

Here's to your bravery in facing your Pattern and in your fight to change it.

Ailey said...

I second what Quiet Dreams said. You've been brave and steadfast in this task and others with which you've been presented and I know you will continue to be so on behalf of your children and yourself.

I feel blessed to know you!1