Monday, December 29, 2008

Broody Hen

It took me many years, but I have reached a point of being 99% satisfied with my non-parental status. I have written before about this decision.

But every once in a while, maybe once or twice a year, I get all broody. It's typical for this to happen over the Christmas holidays, when families with young children all seem so magically happy. I spend time with my grandparents, and see what joy their children and grand-children bring to their lives. I worry about being old and alone, with no one to look after me.

For the past week, I went through this familiar emotional cycle. I don't like to talk about it, because the answer most people will give me is "No problem! There's still time! Hurry up and have a baby!" That's not what I need to hear. I KNOW in my gut that having a child would not be a good idea for Ken and I. It's just not an easy decision to live with all the time. Just like having kids isn't always easy, but that doesn't mean you give them up for adoption because you've had a bad week.

Ken and I are like two playing cards, leaning up against each other to form a somewhat stable triangle. Neither one of us is consistently "the strong one". We take turns supporting each other through life's trials. We both came from childhoods that were difficult, and we're both sensitive, some would say oversensitive, emotionally, psychically, and physically. Just getting through life as it is now often overtaxes our resources. We can comfortably look after ourselves and each other, but start adding demands on top of that and the effort can only be maintained for a few weeks or months before either of us might start to crumble. I speak from experience.

If I try to willpower my way through more than I can handle, my body starts to seriously malfunction. I have a knack for somatizing my feelings.

I have a history of depressive phases, which can be triggered by too much stress and insufficient sleep. I think I'd be the perfect candidate for a truly horrifying post-partum depression.

In a perfect world, if I could trust myself to be as resilient and adaptable as I would like to be in theory, I would love to experience motherhood. Some people have told me that I should take the plunge, because I'll be surprised at what I can accomplish, when I have to. In my life it's most often worked the other way. I've optimistically made grand plans, assuming that because I'm committed to my goals I will be able to tolerate any hardship to achieve them. I truly believed that if my mind could conceive it and my heart could believe it, I could achieve it. I overestimated myself time after time. Experience proves that the best of intentions, positive thinking, and all my willpower (and trust me, I'm stubborn!) can't overcome my limitations.

Therefore, once again I must confirm to myself the wisdom of not becoming a parent. I'd rather keep the hard-won stability and happiness that I've finally achieved, than risk it all for a high-stakes gamble. In the meantime I'll keep volunteering at Babyland, and satisfy some of my maternal instincts that way. I promise not to steal any of the babies.


Nilsa said...

I give you a lot of credit for putting thought, serious thought, into having children. I think most people jump into having children, many unintentionally. Those who want kids don't often think about the demands of having children. I'd argue there are a lot of people out there who shouldn't be parents. And while my guess is you'd probably be quite good at it, I respect your decision. It's not right for everyone.

savia said...

I think you and I have a lot in common in this respect. I have not entirely made my decision about whether I want children, but I am leaning toward not, for all the reasons you've listed. But we'll see. I suspect I will know for sure when I've found my life partner and get a feel for what my future will look like with him.

Anonymous said...

Being a parent is something that I think requires 100% of your attention and focus. If you are not willing to give that 100%, it's wise for you not have a child. It's best to not do it on a whim.

But I will say this. Earlier this month, I attended a party at my brother's house. Him and his wife were throwing a Christmas party. One couple brought there little baby (maybe six months old). My brother's mother-in-law saw the baby, picked him up and her eye's lit up like I've never seen. This is a woman who wants to be a nonna. None of her children have their own kids yet. My brother has only been married a few months. But I'm sure there is going to be some wholesome nudging very shortly.

Anonymous said...

You have to do what's best for you. Take care of yourself and love yourself.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Giving things like this thought and consideration is a wise thing. If you feel that this is a thing that is not for you then how can it be anything but the right decision for you. I'm betting you would be a great mom if you ever change your mind.

Sabrae Carter said...

I personally do not want kids and don't feel like I am intended to be a mom...but the damn wife wants them....hmmmmm what to do what to do????

Karen said...

I agree with you. I love kids, but I love other people's kids. I cannot imagine my life with a baby. I think I just too selfish to put that devotion to another being.

I don't even really want a pet at this point. I love the freedom of my current life.

Sparkling Red said...

Nilsa: It's weird, isn't it? People will spend more time making way smaller decisions than they will asking themselves if becoming parents is a good decision for them. It seems to be assumed that procreating is always the way to go.

Savia: As they say, it ain't over 'till it's over. Even I don't rule out making a last-minute reversal. I agree that the choice should be an organic process, not one dictated by external pressures.

WIGSF: My biggest regret at this time is not being able to give my grandparents the great-grandchild(ren) I know they'd be so thrilled to have. Ditto for my parents. I know that they all feel disappointed, and that makes me sad.

Unsigned: :-) Peace to you too.

Ron: Thank you. I'll accept the compliment. I think at my best I'd be a great mom. But I have plunged to dark depths, even in the fairly recent past. I don't trust that I'd be strong enough, under pressure.

Sabrae: That's a toughie. Hopefully you will work out a solution in time that you're both happy with. People change over time, so you never know how you'll feel later, nor does she. (Nor do I.)

Karen: I hear you. I miss having cats, but I don't miss clearing the litter box. I read a study that found that when parents are offered a guarantee of anonymity, quite a lot of them will admit that if they knew then what they know now, they wouldn't have chosen to have kids. That's saying a lot!

jameil1922 said...

I'm glad you don't let others sway you from what you believe is the best choice for you and your husband. Very important and of course those pangs are TOTALLY normal. is not the "when are you having children question" the most intrusive and annoying? ugh! i definitely want to have kids, but can absolutely understand those who don't.

Kate said...

I always wanted to marry young and have a brood of children - five at the least. Now that I'm 35 and unmarried and no man in sight? That dream is fading fast. I don't want to be an older parent. I really don't. But it's tough coming to grips with lost fantasies.

red's little sparkle said...

the nice thing about having such a younger sister is that i can totally look after you when you're old and crochety ;)
that being said, i do think you'd make a good mom. i know i don't know the half of it, and the idea's pretty frightening to you, but i really do think you could do it.
espically now. i know things aren't just peachy keen now, but you do seem waaaaaay better/stronger/happier then you ever were before.
but i know you're pretty decided on it, and you should totally do what you think is right. just saying is all :P

NicoleB said...

Not everyone is this world is made to be a parent.
Not everyone can see it so clearly.
You have put it well in words.
And even though it's a tough decision at times, nobody can guarantee you that your kids will be the way you dream them to be.
Look at how many people are alone these days with their kids god knows where.
Hugs from someone who made that decision too.
I'm not made for that.
Have a great start into the New Year!

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: Thanks for your support. It means a lot to be understood by people who do want kids. And not incidentally, I can tell you'll be a fantastic mom. You have the first basic qualification: the ability to stay cheerful even when your sleep schedule is irregular!

Kate: Yes, you have it there in a nutshell. Regardless of what reality might have been, we must also grieve lost dreams and possibilities. Those can be very hard to let go of, because we make them perfect in our imaginations.

Dearest Little Sister: You are the sweetest! Thank you for volunteering to keep an eye on me when I'm an oldster. I'll try not to become too cantakerous. ;-) I appreciate your support. I am better/stronger/happier now than I've ever been. I want to stay that way, whatever it takes, or, better yet, keep making progress!

Nicole: Hugs gratefully received! Your support means a lot to me. I have thought about things like that: kids go live half-way around the world, or fall prey to disaster of some sort, or are themselves disabled and need care all their lives. There are no guarantees, except I know that I love the life I have now, despite occasional wishful thinking.

Scarlet said...

Sounds like you've analyzed the situation well and have made the right choice for YOU.

I don't think we're all meant get married and have kids. I'm one of those people who never wanted a steady relationship because I was so fickle...still am but (by the grace of God) I've been married for 16 yrs. I have two kids and no, it's not always easy. If you don't have help around, it's almost impossible these days to live a balanced life.

You have a lot of wisdom. I hope you know that.

Have a happy 2009! I love your last line, btw. ;)

Sparkling Red said...

Scarlet: Thanks! I appreciate your feedback. Sometimes the thoughts go around in my head so many times that I can't tell whether or not I'm making sense anymore. :-)

Jenski said...

Sometimes, I think my sister would like to give her kids up for adoption! (TOTALLY KIDDING of course.) I agree with everyone who has said it, that it shows how good of a person you are to think about this seriously and come to a decision that works for you. Right now, it is great being an aunt to my sister's kids and a godmother to a friend's! You get to buy them stuff, give them back and, believe me, get the good and the bad when it is a child you are close to, even if you are not his or her mother.