We weren’t trying to get pregnant, but it’s not like we were taking the measurements not to get pregnant. In fact, the only plans my husband and I were making, were plans to start over without each other.
As newlyweds, we weren’t exactly in the honeymoon phase that people talk about. In fact, I had my bags packed and airline ticket printed out, ready to head back to Maine the next morning. But, I had this feeling I needed to take a pregnancy test. I was not sick or experiencing any early pregnancy symptoms, it was purely a gut decision to take the tests.
Positive. Both of them. I called my husband at work who was on a 36 hour shift at the Coast Guard station. He didn’t even know I was scheduled to leave in the morning. I figured it would be easier if I just boarded the plane, that way, there would be no argument. It wouldn’t be an argument about him wanting me to stay, but spending the money to fly from Nevada to Maine during the time of year when airfare was the most expensive.
I didn’t want to tell him over the phone that I was pregnant but given the nature of his work, I had to. He couldn’t just leave because his wife had “something important” to talk to him about. Within the hour, he arrived, more pregnancy tests in hand. Three more positive results.
We sat on the edge of our bed, shocked. Not only did he learn I was pregnant, but he saw my packed suitcases. He didn’t ask me to stay. I chose to do so. A couple weeks later, however, I found myself back in Maine.
During my pregnancy, I was so excited to have a baby and I found myself upset that he did not show that same enthusiasm. I moved back and ended up having my daughter in California but again returned to Maine when she was 6 weeks old.
“But don’t you want to stay together for her?” I heard this question both directly and indirectly as the divorce process ran its course. No. We’re separating for her, I would say.
I never understood the idea of staying together for kids. What are we teaching children about valuing their well-being, if we cannot model this happiness as adults? I did not want my daughter to grow up sensing the tension between her father and I. I did not want our stress to become her own.
That’s not to say I did not struggle with the decision. Especially when he decided to continue to parent at a distance when he got out of the military during our daughter’s first year. He’s always lived in a different state and for a while, I worried. I worried if my daughter would be confused by his infrequent visits then later in life, blame herself for his absence. These thoughts led to accusing him of not caring enough.
But, luckily the aha moment came when I questioned myself: Who I am to define “enough?”
As much as we want to, we cannot equate presence with love. It’s like saying a stay-at-home-mom loves their children more than Moms who work full-time. And beyond that, if we don’t live our lives believing that people are doing their best, we are choosing to create problems for ourselves that don’t necessarily exist.
Also, I realized, the only way my daughter is going to doubt herself now or later in life is if I ever show her that I doubt myself.
As a wife, I was not confident. As a mother, I feel like enough.