Wednesday, August 3, 2016

My One and Only

When Eric and I first became involved, he expressed to me that he always assumed he wouldn’t have children because he hadn’t settled down until so late in life (he turns 40 this year). I’m 7 years his junior, and still in prime baby-making years. Having already had a child, I had told him that if he wanted a child of his own, I was willing to go through it one more time (yes, I said go through it. My first pregnancy was awful). Originally, the plan was that we would start trying in May of this year. Then when Eric got a new job, we pushed it back to this fall. Then I started grad school, so we pushed it back to next fall.

On Mother’s Day, Eric visited with his family and his sister, who had just had her second baby. He held the baby and, for reasons I’m still not fully clear on, he started to second guess the plan to have a child at all. He wasn’t sure he was cut out for caring for a baby, and I expect he found himself somewhat annoyed with his sister’s baby. So, when he came home, he told me that he wasn’t sure he was on the baby train anymore and that, while he hadn’t fully made up his mind, he was leaning towards not having one.

My position on having a baby was based on his preference. Personally, I never wanted children to begin with and had I not had my daughter in the way I had her (unplanned), I likely would never have had a child. However, I was willing to do this for him, to give him a child because he seemed to want one. To be honest, I was never 100% thrilled with the idea of having another child, kidlet just turned 9 this year, so the diaper stage of my life ended a while ago and the thought of returning to it this late in the game wasn’t a fun one. There are people in this world who love children, who love babies, and who have to fight the urge to have more once they’ve met their quota of kids. I am not one of those people. I love my daughter and I’m happy to have her in my life. However, I think I would have been perfectly happy in life had it taken a different path that didn’t include her. Perhaps that makes me a bad mother, I don’t know nor do I particularly care. My daughter is well loved and well cared for, and the fact is she is here, my life did not take a different path.

It’s been a few months now and Eric has steadfastly stuck by his initial decision to not have a child. He has until next fall to change his mind, but I find my initial mixed feelings fading away to pure relief. I will admit that, while I never wanted children, the idea of having a planned pregnancy and a supportive partner was something I was looking forward to with Eric. My first pregnancy was awful, but my first marriage was worse, and while kidlet sees her father regularly, I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over the things he did to me, the things he didn’t do for her (and still doesn’t), and the things I went through with him. However, a “do-over” pregnancy was not going to erase the experience I had already had and I’d rather focus my efforts on building my relationship with the child I have then try again for a better initial relationship with a new child.

As my mixed feelings fade away, I find myself almost giddy at the prospect of not having another child. Kidlet is 9 years away from adulthood, which means that I’ll have a significant portion of my adult life to look forward to where I won’t be tied down by a child. When she’s 18, I’ll be 42. I even thought about retiring early as Eric and I fell in love with our honeymoon destination and have given serious thought to retiring there. However, even if I don’t retire early, I could still retire at 55 because I will have hit 30 years with the state. Even better, we can afford to travel if we’re only sending one kid to college. The money we’ll save on daycare expenses alone is enough of a reason to forego another kid to me. Kidlet is almost out of daycare. She has two more years of elementary school and once she’s in middle school, she won’t need daycare anymore. Summer care will still be a bit dodgy until she’s a teen, but paying for summer camp is still cheaper than paying for summer camp AND a full year of before and after care.

Finally, kidlet is pretty happy to be siblingless. There are days she laments the lack of a sibling, but mostly she says she enjoys being my one and only child. She gets our full attention, she’s doted on as the only grandchild on my side of the family, and she has been in daycare since she was a year old, so socialization has not been a problem for her as it is for some only children.

It’s always possible that Eric will change his mind, but I doubt it and I’m secretly hopeful he won’t. I’m perfectly happy with my one child and have no biological clock telling me otherwise. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Celebrate Love

My sister got married this past weekend. This is significant because both of my siblings are gay and my sister is the first lesbian to marry in our family. It is also significant because her wife was one of the ones leading the fight for marriage equality, so she essentially made their wedding day possible.

It was a beautiful ceremony and reception. The brides are from Texas and Maryland respectively, so they decided to combine cultures around the theme of “boots and boat shoes.” Much of the d├ęcor was nautically related, but the band was a Texas inspired country band, complete with cowboy outfits. They were married on a lovely waterfront property way down in Southern Maryland, and the reception was held in a newly built barn. The reception was a little cramped for my tastes, as it was a bit difficult to get around, but not impossible.

The most poignant moment for me was when they had a reading of the Oberfell v Hodges, the case that transformed “gay marriage” into simply “marriage.” It was a beautifully written opinion and it truly pointed to the hard work and dedication my new sister-in-law had put forth into bringing this right around to her and my sister. It was more appropriate for their wedding than any bible reading ever could be, though they had a few of those as well.

My brother, as I said, is also gay and he actually brought a date to the wedding as well. While it’s a bit too early in their relationship to contemplate whether we’ll have another wedding in the near future (and honestly, after my own wedding and my sister’s, I’m a little “weddinged” out), it was still amazing to see my brother so proudly “out” to our family. For the longest time, it was something that was known, but not spoken about. My father was less than thrilled when Kevin first told us, though my father was much more open to my sister and her wife when they first came out to him. But my father sat comfortably at a table with not only my brother and his date, but also my uncle and his husband, someone he used to detest when I was growing up. I am so proud of how far my family has come in accepting my siblings for not only who they truly are, but also who they love.

To me, the fight for marriage equality has always been about love. We should not define who gets to officially declare their love for someone and who does not. I hope that the fight for equality will continue to other non-traditional relationships who want the right to marry the ones they love.

“The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. Changes, such as the decline of arranged marriages and the abandonment of the law of coverture, have worked deep transformations in the structure of marriage, affecting aspects of marriage once viewed as essential. These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution. Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.” Oberfell v Hodges135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I gotta go back, back, back to school....again!

So, after working at the new agency, same position for the last 4 months, I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake. There are some lifestyle pros: I don't have to wait for public transit anymore which is nice when it is raining and I can just jump right in my car and crank up the heat; my commute is shorter without the additional train ride and if I leave later than I plan, I still make it to work on time since I'm not working with a train schedule; the building is lovely and I feel more comfortable walking around than I did in the city; and my husband is just down the road if I need him.

The job itself; however, sucks. I'm back to being a glorified secretary in the title of a paralegal. They don't give me anything substantial to do, and then when I do some menial task, they gush about how "fast" and "smart" I am. Apparently the person who was in this position before me (when it was a legal secretary position, they requested the position be upgraded to paralegal after she left) was not very good and they had issues getting her to accomplish simple tasks. I understand why they decided to upgrade the position, but I still think it's false advertising. I did not go to school to create envelopes, answer phones, and make copies. The most "paralegal-esque" thing I do is put together filings. I managed to badger one attorney into letting me help her with discovery, but even she seemed reluctant. When I started we had a law clerk who got most of the research projects, stuff I used to do on the regular at my old position. He got a paying gig after a month of working here, but oddly none of his research projects ever made their way to my desk. It's frustrating.

Since I don't want to leave here before I've at least hit a year, I started thinking about what I could do to fill in the time normally spent twiddling my thumbs and waiting for something worthwhile to do. I started researching grad school programs. I flirted briefly with the idea of going back to my first love of writing and getting an MFA in Creative Writing, but then I realized that while that would be good for my spirit, it wouldn't do my career much good. So, instead, I opted to pursue a Master's in Public Administration and Policy. It's basically the civil servant's version of an MBA, and is a path to working as a high ranking government official without shelling out tons of money, time and aggravation to law school. I've already seen multiple state positions requesting a Masters in Public Policy or Administration, and I'm happy to have found a school that allows me to do both. It's an online course, which works well with my schedule, and it's at a college nearby, so if I need to use any of their resources on campus, I'm able to. The college created a hybrid course of their on campus MPA and MPP programs and it's in the top 10 programs for this degree field. It's expensive, but still cheaper than law school and I've already figured out a game plan to pay for it. I start May 2nd. It's a 2 year program and I'm hoping that I'll be able to find a better paying job pretty quickly after I complete it. I'm glad to be going back to school and getting more education as well as pursuing a new career path!

It does put a damper on the baby plan though. We had decided to push it back until January of next year, and then when I started applying to the master's program, we talked about pushing it back to next fall which would allow me to be pregnant my last year in the program and have the baby soon after graduating. This way, I wouldn't have to put kiddo in daycare for the summer and I'd have her help with the baby while Eric is at work. There's always a chance we won't be able to have a baby, but the plan for now is to start trying next fall.

All that said, I have to admit I've already started looking at what's available job wise with the state and with nearby county governments. I don't want to leave the state if I can help it, but I just can't imagine being stuck in this position for the next 2 years. If I have to, I'll do it, but I'm hoping to avoid it if I can help it.