1,000 Families Project: Jen and Family

1,000 Families Project:
Jen and Family

In an ironic turn of events, this writer becomes the woman her friends and classmates always thought they would. Here’s how she makes her cupcakes and eats them too.

In my final year of high school, our English teacher gave us a peculiar writing assignment: tell a story about happens twenty years from now at our high school reunion. I wrote about being childless, wearing suits, high heels and having a successful career. I wrote about being lonely and a little bit jealous of my matronly high school girlfriends, even though the babies they lugged around had snotty noses and cried hysterically.

I got a B-minus.

The students who got As were the ones who imagined themselves being married to unlikely partners, driving sensible cars and having enough kids to field a baseball team. These stories were read aloud and everyone joked at how preposterous they were.

I don’t know what’s funnier—the fact that I’m still annoyed I didn’t get an A, or that I’m the one married and driving around a station wagon full of kids. For any panicked parents out there, these wagons really are the best vehicles for a growing family though; as long as you’re aware of the legal side of driving one, you can enjoy the spaciousness and easy access when you’ve got pushchairs, car seats and screaming children to contend with.

I was the first woman in my family to graduate from college. Honours diploma in hand, I moved across the country, continually building my career. I wanted to put as much distance as possible between me and my own stay-at-home mother, if for no other reason than to make sure that I myself, did not want to become a stay-at-home mom. It’s a condition I thought was contagious (seeing as that’s what happened to my classmates who stayed in our hometown).

Even throughout the early years of my marriage and first pregnancy, I staunchly stood by my decision to lean in.

But as soon as I landed my dream job, I became pregnant with our second child, a girl we named Gillian. After she was born, I battled postpartum depression, an experience that changed me dramatically. I no longer considered my job to be the most important thing in my life, but the two beautiful lives we brought into the world. So when Gillian was two months old, I quit my job and my husband and I sold our home in suburban Winnipeg. We moved to rural Ontario, not far from I grew up.

My husband became the breadwinner. We bought a bungalow and station wagon and adopted a yellow lab. My oven mitts match my apron, I’m the school lunch lady and the first one to volunteer for PTA bake sales. If BuzzFeed had a quiz on what decade your family should live in, surely our results would plop us in the 1950s.

Sometimes when I’m driving, I’ll look in the rearview mirror for any trace of that 18-year-old girl who imagined herself anywhere but in the driver’s seat of a shopping cart battered station wagon, on the way to a playdate with homemade cupcakes balanced precariously in the seat beside her. Of course I don’t see her, but that’s okay. I’m too busy looking back at the two faces who are smiling at me.

This is #1000families post number 133. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

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Jennifer Pinarski

About Jennifer Pinarski

Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences of giving up her big-city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband while staying home to raise their two young children on her Today’s Parent blog. When she’s not running or riding her bike, she’s chasing her barefoot kids through the great outdoors, tweeting and Instagramming as she goes. View all posts by