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I never have considered myself particularly maternal. I played house when I was a little girl, but only if I could be the Mommy (I like control). I heaved great sighs of exasperation each time my parents asked me to take care of my little brother while they worked (we’re nine years apart). I have never liked children; I only babysat for the money (I got a job at McDonald’s as soon as I turned 15 to avoid this frustrating task!). And when I met and married Wayne at 24, I was working full-time as a writer and editor, while serving at restaurants and pubs on the weekends. This provided the extra spending money we used to fund our fantastic D-I-N-K lifestyle (DINK = Double Income, No Kids). It was great!
Then, I began to see babies as the expression of a couple’s love and intimacy; as a reason to grow and learn together; and as a tiny bundle to call our own, to nurture and teach and love and raise. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay home 24/7 to raise one. But I knew it was the next step in our marriage; we just had to figure out how to make it work for us.
The dream became a reality only once we decided to become a military family. Living in Metro Vancouver, our two-bedroom townhouse was not only too small for more than one child, but it was far too expensive to afford on one income. I would have had to go back to work and pay for daycare, which is hard to come by in that area. We would have been near family, but both our sets of parents were years away from retirement at the time and would not have been able to provide regular childcare. Our yard was also roughly the size of a postage stamp – no fun for a kid.
So when the opportunity to join the Canadian Forces presented itself, it seemed to be the logical answer. Wayne would have a contract that would guarantee his position; we’d rent on base so he could work close to home; and I could stay home with the kids while they are little. It seemed almost too good to be true!
Of course, it was. Wayne left to complete his training for a total of 16 months, and then the Army moved us to the middle of the Prairies. This wasn’t exactly what I had imagined.
But after the initial shock, I began to appreciate this crazy life for what it is, and I can say now that I have enjoyed the position of CEO of the Baxter home more than any other title I’ve held in my career, even if it is in the middle of nowhere! I now officially consider myself a stay-at-home-parent, instead of just a mom who doesn’t have time to work. And I am not only okay with that, but I am delighted to have the opportunity to be home; not everyone who wants to do this, can.
I admit, sometimes I ask myself how my life went from high heels, boardroom meetings, and after-work cocktails to flip flops, naptime, and Sesame Street. Sometimes I grumble at the fact that I have to drive 25 minutes into Brandon just to buy groceries. And I totally add menial tasks to my morning to-do list, just so I have something to cross off (today’s list included "make coffee," "read flyers," and "lunch," just to avoid "fold laundry," "empty dishwasher," and "wash diapers"). But I know that being home with my kids is my primary role right now, and I know myself well enough to know that I don’t have the energy reserve to pour into them and a job outside the home. But it’s okay. It won’t be like this forever. It’s just another stage of life, and I am blessed to have a husband who supports it.