By Robin L. Jessie-Green
Maybe I went about this family life and motherhood business the wrong way? I only say this because quite honestly, I really enjoy the freedom of being recently separated. I know it's not what people would expect a financially challenged mother of five to say, but they're not the ones living this life. Sure, there are numerous responsibilities, and I'm the one who tackles them on my own. But I have a secret... I like it this way.
On occasion, I'd certainly appreciate someone calling on their way home from work offering to pick up anything I'd forgotten during my umpteenth errand run earlier. I could use a helping hand in the kitchen for dinner and dishes or relief from taking the boys to the barbershop where I'm ogled. However, I'd take dirty laundry, flirty talk at the barbershop, housekeeping for a family of six, chauffeuring and cutting corners to make ends meet--over living in misery 'til death do us part.
I am a better mom when I'm not stretching myself to the limit only to achieve mediocrity as his wife.
Interaction was stressful, now it's effortless. Game night with the kids is without tension, and mama talks mad smack when she wins at Monopoly or Connect Four. Meal preparation is done with love. I put my foot in it (that's what they say down South when the food is yummy.) Food tastes better when your focus is feeding the babies and not on not wanting to sit at the same table with the man.
I've figured out why I feel so relieved raising my children on my own than with my husband. It's because I am no longer child number six in the household. When I got married, I lost all control over my life and therefore my happiness. I lost myself. I couldn't enjoy being a mommy because I felt like a child more than ever. It wasn't the marriage that enslaved me; it was my poor choice of committing to an incompatible mate. I married a man who wanted to be my father when I should have wed a man who wanted to be my husband.
Some assume that at the least we had to be sexually compatible because of all the children produced. They would be incorrect and presumptuous. So many kids simply imply at least one partner received pleasure. We were not the best match.
A woman wired to be a single mom does not make for the happiest stay-at-home parent. Word of advice: If anxiety develops at the mere mention of you staying home to procreate and cultivate, being a stay-at-home mom is probably not be for you. Otherwise, power to you. It just wasn't for me. My contributions were required but not appreciated.
Once upon a time, I was a single mom of one, working full time as a manager at a marketing firm. When child number two came along, marriage, and returning to college during the morning and staying at home the rest of the day became my reality. Upon graduation, I birthed child three. The next year, was child four. I received my master's degree online when child five was born. Still, I remained at home. Unfortunately, there was yet another development--fear. I feared doing anything else. Change was frightening.
There were days at a time when I didn't leave the house. When I did, my activities were errand running or kid-related. I lost touch with the outside adult world, and physically began to lose my luster. At first it was to appease my husband, then I got so used to not living for myself that I lost the desire to do so.
Something changed in me. Maybe it was the death of a loved one, my 30th birthday, my desire to write professionally or all of the above. Whatever it was broke me out of my shell, and I got a part time gig. I earned $18,000, and it might as well have been $18,000,000 because of the feelings of independence and pride it gave me. Being a broke, single mom of five started looking really attractive; being controlled and fussed at by the man who made the bulk of the household income--not so much.
So I told him I wouldn't do it anymore, and for the first time he actually heard me. I guess it's easier to be in control when someone voluntarily gives up the reigns. When they snatch them back, there's no sense in fighting because you've already lost.
There are a number of roles that I play well. Single mom is at the top of the list. It's not that I'm every woman minus good wife. No one ever said I failed as a doting and obedient spouse. It was never even implied. In fact my ex often said the opposite, but my heart just wasn't in it. And for the life of me, I couldn't understand how his was. All I could ask myself was: "How do I get out?" All I could ask my husband was: "How can you be happy when I'm so miserable?!"
I love my family structure and am happy being a single mom. It's the spouse to whom I just wasn't too attached. Could it be possible to be wired for single-motherhood? Or is it just preferred to living a lifetime of misery?