Balancing work and parenting came as second nature to me. These are two huge aspects of my life. Working helps me remember that I’m more than a mother – that there’s more to me than caring for someone else, and there will be when he grows up and moves out on his own. I’ll still have myself; I don’t want to lose that. And parenting filled a void for me that had been empty for such a long time: motherhood gave me family. I already have everything.
But balancing relationships has proven to be so much trickier. For me, for whatever reason, it’s been easy to be a single mom. I’ve never had to compromise. My way is always the right way. I’ve never had to worry about how much time I was spending with my son versus with a partner. I’ve never had to share him or share responsibilities. I’ve never felt jealous because he wanted someone else; he always wants me. I’ve never felt overburdened because he only wants me; he always wants me. It is my reality; it has always been this way.
Now I’m trying to be a mom and an activist, I’m trying to do a job and also have a social life. It’s sometimes hard to have conversations with my peers when the conversations aren’t about work, just because my life outside of work is very much still “Where the Wild Things Are” (and sometimes “Donde Viven Los Monstruos”). My life outside of work is, “Please don’t eat crumbs off the ground; you can have more Cheez its.”
What else is there?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to live for the late-night conversations with my lover about our pasts and about the ways we’re broken and the things we want to do in the future, on our own and together. I like brainstorming backyard projects and weekend trips. But I can’t help but feel guilty.
Max and I still have so much quality time together. We have our Spanish classes on Saturdays and our play groups on Fridays. We have dinner together every night. But this week has been hard. He hasn’t been waking up as happy as usual, and I think he senses that he doesn’t have as much of me as he always has.
(He’s also teething and has a canker sore, so it could be all that…)
I honestly don’t know how married people do it.