"Really, Connie. I appreciate it, but you don't have to," I replied.
"Well, you are a single mother, aren't you?" my mother-in-law replied as she turned her car onto the February ice that coated St. Clair Avenue West. She and I had wrapped up our first, and as it turns out, only, shopping expedition for me—the new midlife mother—as she'd offered me $100 a month to buy diapers, clothes, whatever we needed, for my new son, Christopher. The windshield wipers beat out a dull rhythm as they cleared off the slush.
"I mean, Jeff isn't making any money, is he?" she continued.
For 10 years, my entrepreneur-musician-husband had struggled to manufacture, sell, and make a living from his own electronic music sequencers—a specialized product if there ever was one. I sputtered out something about how Jeff couldn't be making money if he had to write software code for his product's next version, but once this code worked, his business would bring in money again.
And yet, truth be told, I had begun to feel single. It had been seven weeks since we'd brought Christopher home from the hospital, and I'd learned to nurse and punch out words on a keyboard while Christopher napped in a baby Bjorn slung to my chest. I was making difficult choices: Now that my "free to be me" time had been reduced to scattered 15-minute intervals, should I shower, start dinner, wash dishes, or do laundry? All the while, Jeff, for the most part, focused on software code, readied our garbage for pickup once a week, or slept.1