Monday, March 09, 2009

mourning my lack of dink-dom

I've been pondering off and on lately, for some reason, a life stage that I didn't experience.
The fact that I missed it is my own fault (obviously, for those of you who have known me for years), and so I'm not blaming anyone. More just wondering what I missed, I suppose.
Because it seems like there's a lot of value in knowing one's spouse for years before having children. I know some people do things "the right way" -- marriage before kids -- and still a kid comes along almost instantly for them, as well. But I rather envy the folks who had a few years between wedding and firstborn.

I recall as a singleton thinking that certain tasks -- a classic example would be, bringing a nice home-cooked dish to a potluck -- should be more the area of the married couple. I'm the single person. I can get away with providing the bag of chips or bakery cookies or easy salad or something. What makes me laugh now is, I give myself the same excuses as a married parent. Hey -- I have no time, right? So someone else will still have to provide the really good stuff. (this example probably speaks more to my general laziness regarding food preparation than anything.) Fortunately for my hypothetical fellow potlucking friends, my husband doesn't subscribe to this theory, and will usually go overboard to provide something fitting.

That's obviously a silly example. More important is the one-on-one time with my spouse. Getting to know him, building common memories, doing a few grown-up things before the decades of kid things descended. Even just one grown-up vacation together, perhaps? A bit of money spent on ourselves, not kids or kid care?

The time spent just feathering the nest would've been nice, too. And planning things slowly, one step at a time ... There are so many projects I would love to dive into -- wedding photo album, say -- that languishes undone in favor of laundry or some child-related need.

I don't really wish I could go back and do many things over again. I truly acknowledge the wisdom that says that I learned from my mistakes. I do feel that I have. But the one thing I wish I could give my spouse that I never really fully will be able to prove to his satisfaction is the gift of knowing that I really, truly 100 percent choose to be with him because ... well, because I want to be with him. And again, thinking back on how things went down, who could blame him for always doubting that? He would have to be stupid to NOT doubt that. Though, by the time we got married (and still), I would not have been with anyone else for all the world.

Marriage just by necessity takes a back seat to the children's concerns. And we've got a loooong road to walk before we're done chasing after children's concerns. Sometimes I wish we'd had a little 'us' time first.

And then my more cynical, sensible self says, perhaps if I hadn't gotten pregnant, I never would have gotten married at all. I know myself. I know the levels of perfection and idealism I put on certain things. Would I ever have actually chosen to marry someone? I'm betting I wouldn't have.
When I think about it that way -- not to mention what a sweet, cool, fun, talented, deeply interesting and conversational guy I ended up with -- how things went down isn't so bad.

I wouldn't for one second say that, in general, a life lived without husband and/or children is a life not fully lived. But I would say for me, I would've felt a deep lack. And regret.
I often truly believe my deepest motivator is the avoidance of regret. I don't know how sound that sort of logic is, but it seems to be the way I operate.

All that said ... I'll be happy with what I have, and try to ignore the little what-ifs that occasionally creep in.


  1. Kate, this post struck home for me on many levels. I often feel the same way about wondering what it would be like to have known Sam for longer--we were pregnant within a couple of weeks of our wedding, which had taken place less than six months after we met. Sometimes I think it would have been nice to have had more time to ourselves. We did get to take the trip and work on the house some before at least the birth of the baby, but it was pretty hectic.

    Still, maybe it's funny that while you wish for some of the things we got to do, one of the things I do feel truly wistful over is that I'd have loved to be able to space out our efforts at babymaking for years and have lots of time with just one--like you! :)

  2. I have to say, I have enjoyed the time alone with Jason. But we're a more mercurial couple than most, and probably needed all that time to hit the right stride in our marriage for kids. And it doesn't matter that we've had so much time together, Jason still says that I "tricked" him into swooning and being with me.

    And I have to ditto Tara's comment. I'd have loved to be able to space out the babymaking efforts and have lots of time with just one.

  3. We had a couple of years of marriage before having kids, but we were in college then and not really grown ups yet. We got pregnant pretty quick after graduating and never had the di of dink. I can totally see your point about missing something, but I also think it's human nature to always think we must of missed something. Schuyler and I dated in high school and we both have a part of us that wonders if we missed out by not really dating other people, even though I think we're both not the type to enjoy that. There's always something to wonder if you missed out on, you know?

  4. I agree with Maggie! My list of "what it's" is too long to even consider sharing (but if you ever have a free week or so I'd be glad to try and squeeze it in ;-) Let's just say that I did it "right" -- met in college, date six or seven years, got my career grounded, married, had 10 years of DINKness, and then had a kid. You know what - there is no right way! Now, when I'm ready to retire Elizabeth will still be in college. Ha! Retire? I don't think that's in my future. And it's true that DINKness had a lot of perks (lazy Sunday brunches, intimidate rainy Saturday afternoons, the latest and coolest toys, etc.) being a DINK was hugely, muchly less fulfilling than being a mom! Sometimes I wish I had a kid sooner, but then there's no guarantee I'd have gotten Elizabeth and I'm quite fond of her :)

  5. I had to google the definition of "dink", which tells you how far removed I am from the word. I want to respond to Matt's doubts. If you had married him soon after you got pregnant, I could see him thinking you married him because you "had" to. But you stayed strong, even breaking up with him after Lizzy was born, and then you came back when you knew your love was genuine. I don't see how he could ever doubt your devotion.

  6. We had the opposite situation, ending up waiting for kids many years longer than we originally hoped. It will be 12 yrs of marriage by the time Toots gets here. We got married at 22 and thought we could do it all-- adventure, serve, get educated, start careers and have kids, while still in our 20's. It was a lot of fun and we did do most of it, but when it came to kids, Big Wrench in the plans. One unexpected result was that I ended up abandoning my career ambitions. My energy during that 6 "extra" yrs has been rerouted into getting our family into a position where kids are actually possible. I definitely have some "whatifs" on that score.