Last night I made cheese ravioli, steamed asparagus with butter and lemon juice, and a nice, fresh salad. As we took turns picking up Beatrice’s toys off the floor as she tossed them from her high chair, I had a strange feeling come over me. When we rented this house three and a half years ago, we were living with a twenty-something college student, and our dogs were our kids. We went out whenever we felt like it, ate out all the time, had no trouble paying our bills, and went to the movies or hung out with friends. Now, Cavan has moved out and we eat dinner at home, at the table with a 6-month-old in between us, banging toys on her food tray, cooing and babbling. We haven’t gone out alone together, let alone had a “date,” since she was born. Our hospital bills are ready to go into collections, and we’re trying to figure out if we can go down to one car.
I don’t think I ever imagined myself in this situation. Unlike many women, being in a long-term, committed relationship and being a mom just weren’t on my top list of things to do. I love Bea to death, and can’t imagine not having her, so it’s not like I would take that back. It’s just a weird, surreal feeling to know I now have to be responsible for her, before I consider myself and what I want. My life wasn’t exactly a thrill a minute before she came along, which may be part of the reason we chose to go ahead and try getting pregnant. I’m willing to sacrifice a certain amount of myself to make sure she’s well taken care of.
That being said, there are things I can do for myself that give me a little alone time. I take a lot of hot baths in this cold winter weather when Charlie is home. I’m reading a book on getting in to grad school. I’m sitting down by myself to try and get homework done.
My top school choices aren’t so much about the schools’ prestige as they are the programs those schools have to offer. Portland State University and DePaul in Chicago both have programs in writing and publishing that interest me. Part of me loves the idea of taking off for at least two years to live in Oregon, physically detached from the people who are making this thing called motherhood much more difficult for me (let’s not even go into that right now). Part of me likes the idea of renting a tiny apartment in Chicago, walking to campus, and taking regular trips to IKEA for all of the things we won’t want to take with us. I don’t want to leave my friends completely, or the family that I care about, but I really want to give something new a try. I don’t want to have a kid who’s afraid to try new things, who grows up in suburb of Indianapolis, and whose idea of “fun” is going to the mall with her friends. If that’s how she ends up, I want to know that I at least gave her a fighting chance to be somewhat “cultured.”
Charlie is considering pursuing a degree in nursing, in an effort to both change fields/have a new career, and to ensure a job anywhere we end up. I want to take comedy writing classes at Second City. We talk a lot about money, school, how we ended up in this financial situation, and how to get out of it.
The other day I had to turn in a bunch of paperwork at the Family and Social Services Administration to see if we were eligible for assistance with Bea’s healthcare. Walking in, I found the entire place so depressing, flickering fluorescent lights, people taking up seats who looked as though they might not have a place to call home . . . It made me that much more determined the get out of the situation that we’re in, whether it’s just by finishing this goddamn Bachelor’s degree that’s taken me so long, or continuing through to get my Master’s and teaching, or getting a shitty writing gig for a sitcom.
I guess, as usual, only time will tell, but I am convinced that, as usual, Charlie and I will come out ahead of all of this.