No Breaks for Parents in "Traditional" Families
A Brief History
The nuclear family (mother, father and their children) became the established norm during the mid-twentieth century but is no longer considered the "paradigm" of the family unit. And in my neck of the woods atypical is a better description of the number of traditional families, at least among my Gen X peers. Many are divorced and cohabiting, remarried Brady-bunch style, or single parents raising children alone and actually "postmodern" seems a bit more accurate. Society as a whole has deviated from this set-up for a number of reasons, and for good ones it seems; mostly out of convenience, personal preference and economic reasons and besides, who cares how you're living anyway, it's your life right? It's less important how others view you and more about how you want to live. Morals have shifted, and views have changed on how we define a traditional family; now it's simply a matter of personal choice. And let me tell you with all these variations, it's not made it any easier within my little nuclear nest. Having very few support systems to depend on and no downtime away from kids makes me so ready to pull my freaking hair out. Let me explain...
There's No Escape From Kids!
In my family it's me, my husband, and the average two children (well, they're not really average but for the purpose of this article we'll say they are). And I can't really say this is a good thing. It's a hard pill to swallow watching most of your friends who are single, separated or divorced have a nice, long relaxing weekend to unwind without children a couple times a month while I'm running errands or carpooling every weekend back and forth to the movies, friends houses, etc., spending no time with my husband whatsoever because I'm taking care of my girls' social lives. Their grandparents are nowhere to be found because with society's changes also came their transition; the freedom and independence to finally live how they want sans children. It doesn't make it any easier that our house has became the local slumber party hotel and all my kids' friends want to stay here at my casa (probably because I'm too tired to tell them "no" to anything), and staying awake until the rooster crows since I passed out around 10:00 pm from sheer exhaustion. Once again, here I am stuck watching someone else's child while I imagine their parents lying in a bathtub covered in bubbles and surrounded by candles and soft lullaby music, thinking about nothing much. So any way you look at it, I'm screwed. How should I feel?
Kids, Kids, Kids!
Feeling Secretly Jealous...
Its frustrating because I honestly don't know how to feel about the situation. On the one hand, should I feel sorry for these parents because they lose precious quality time with their kids and surely must miss them? Or should I resign to being jealous because they have an actual designated period (either weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to breathe and gather their thoughts, health and spirit? I feel guilty because I know it would be dreadful not having your children in their own beds when night comes. However, not spending time with my husband wreaks havoc on a marriage and it would feel so good not to hear "mom" or "I'm hungry" chanted five hundred times of an evening. Am I missing something here? I don't want to complain to anyone because it makes me feel like a bad mother. And I have to fight the urge to say something sarcastic when the "other" parents casually mention how their kids will be gone for the week, the month or the whole freaking summer. Don't they know how much I'm screaming inside right now to shut the hell up? I feel so alone and I KNOW there's other parents out there like me, there has to be! And if I do happen to mention something about the cord not being cut I usually get the inevitable, "cherish the time you have with them, because it will be over sooner than you think". Okay. Whatever. That's easy for you to say because you either: A) don't have any kids at home because they're grown, or B) you're one of those "other" parents I'm insanely jealous of at the moment. I suppose I can swallow my feelings, be a good mom for now and just work my way through this because I know one day I'll probably be glad it happened this way. Seems like no matter what the issue, it's human nature to never be satisfied.