The other morning at breakfast my husband casually brought up an old colleague who had called him out of the blue. I listened attentively and then with a slowly furrowing brow as my husband explained this colleague wanted to put my husband in touch with a local college. This college is in need of professors. Perhaps my husband would be interested in teaching beginning in September?
Between bites of peanut butter toast, I calmly reminded him that he has a daughter arriving at the end of August. Won’t things be stressful enough without a new teaching gig on the side? That’s why he was taking the month of September off from work. So, he could be here helping with the baby and coordinating international family visitation. I agreed this was going to be a huge help but what about after September. He would go back to two jobs and I will be at home with no jobs.
We left the conversation at “Let’s wait and see what the college offers if they ever actually call,” but I continued to think about it for the rest of the day. Even knowing how much my husband loves teaching and has missed it over the last few years, I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for this new project. His dissertation is not due for another few, stressful months and he’s already looking for something new to fill up his time. I would have thought a new baby would fill time pretty effectively but my husband seems to think he will still have some left over.
And he just might be right. After all, he isn’t the one whose body will be battered and bruised and need recovery time. He doesn’t have the mammary glands required to feed the baby every few hours. It’s not his voice lecturing on supply and demand that the baby will have heard for months and most likely have become very attached to. He’ll have a more fit body, more energy, and maybe even enough time to teach a few law classes, all in addition to having a warm, squishy baby to rock to sleep. Who the hell came up with this ridiculously unfair system?
That was it. That was the real reason I couldn’t support my husband pursuing something he loves. While there are legitimate arguments to be made about adding stress and leaving me alone for more hours during the week (I’m including the hours needed to plan lessons), my real hang-up is that I am jealous.
Taking on a professorship in September would not even be an option for me. There is no discussion. No debate. There is not even a discussion about continuing the job I have in September. If my husband and I have a baby, I’m not working for several months. Period. It does not matter how much I enjoy my job, how much money I make, or how long I’ve waited to find a real job in Brazil. I’m staying at home because in this partnership, I’m the one with the uterus.
I’m loving my job. I have been waiting for years wondering if my master’s degree would end up a completely wasted investment. I’m making friends and coming home daily with enough stories to fill up a week of dinner conversation. Seriously, at this point, I’ve got conversation material to last through July. But that doesn’t matter. I will be giving it all up for months and my own dreams, interests, and capabilities do not matter. Because I am the one with the uterus.
Before the defenders of motherhood swoop down around, let me say that, yes, having a family is a dream of mine, so having a baby is in fact pursing one dream. It’s just not the only one I have. And my husband gets to have a family without putting any of his dreams on hold and even has the option to pursue an additional interest.
I do not regret getting pregnant and I cannot wait for the moment I get to meet my daughter face to face. It is just a little shocking to me to have my life plan decided so absolutely by an internal organ other than my brain. I haven’t changed. The person who is Brynn still has the same interests, the same flaws, the same quirks as four months ago but, at least for the end of 2011, those things are secondary to the fact I have a uterus and have put it to use. Do men have any experience remotely equivalent?
I brought all this up to husband over dinner last night. I asked if he had any problems with my blogging about the subject. He said he didn’t mind, but he added one thought at the end. He told me he was making sacrifices to have this baby too. I asked what they were. He told me, “I’m going to have to share you with someone for the rest of my life.” And I suddenly felt a whole lot lighter.
Update: My daughter was born 7 weeks early and is turning 4 next month. My husband did finish his PhD and take the teaching job. He is now the coordinator of the law school…And despite not having a full night’s sleep since July 10, 2011, I have managed to write a graphic novel set in Brazil. Now if I could just get an agent to say yes, I’d have quite the uplifting cinematic ending. ; )