"As someone who has chosen to not have children, I am fascinated to know your thoughts about choosing to have children, and overall what your experience has been. I know you've always wanted to have children, but why? This may be getting to personal, but I'm also interested in knowing about your childhood history/struggles, and how these have impacted your child-rearing, and what you have done to cope with challenges; what has worked well and what could have been done differently, and how has this all worked out so far?"
I have to say that I deeply respect people who choose not to have children if they're even slightly unsure if they want them or not. It seems many folks think that just b/c they were born with functioning reproductive organs, they must use them to excess. This fact makes me especially bitter given my difficulty in getting pregnant. I truly believe there should be some sort of aptitude test required in order to have children. Yeah, I know, civil rights...bla, bla, bla. Tell that to the children who are born into horrifying circumstances, who are abused & neglected b/c their parents had no right having them in the first place. And I feel I am qualified to say this b/c I was one of those children.
Growing up, I had a mostly absentee father, a co-dependent mother, and a sadistic drug addict step father. This is not what you'd call an ideal family situation. I lived a large portion of my life floating in and out of daydreams b/c that was the only way I could preserve hope. There were some strategically placed angels who walked me through the extremely difficult stuff and I will forever be grateful to them for what they did. But I was just one of many children in a bad situation. Some had it far worse. I witnessed this phenomenon and I swore that when I had children, I would be strong enough to break the cycle.
I don't know that I ever chose to have children. I just always knew I wanted to be a mom. Of course, I pictured having lots & lots of kids. I wanted to buy a house and adopt or foster as many children as I possibly could. Obviously that is not the route my life took, but I still have the passion to help kids who are living through things they shouldn't be experiencing.
When it comes to parenting my child, I am beyond flawed. I make so many mistakes, it's a wonder she has turned out as well as she has. But my child has never known what it's like to go to sleep so hungry she's sick. She has never wondered where her next meal will come from. She's also never walked into a room & seen mirrors w/ white powder, razor blades, and hollow pens on them. I've never left her home alone, called her names, or told her she was ugly when she cried. If she works hard, she is rewarded. She gets punished when needed, but I don't feel I need to put my hands on her to get my point across. She doesn't know what it's like to fear her parental figure so intensely that she stops sleeping at night. She's never had to lie to a landlord, defend herself for being female, or nurse her parents while they're coming down off a weeks-long bender. We talk to her, listen to her, and comfort her. We encourage her to follow her passion and share her feelings. In the grand scheme of things, I think we're doing alright.
My biggest challenge as a parent is knowing if I'm doing the right thing. Without a good example to draw from, I am just winging it. I have a lot of examples as to what NOT to do and I use those often. There have been instances where my child has said or done something I recall doing as a child. If my reaction is the complete opposite of what my parents' reaction was, I know I'm on the right track. That sounds awful, but it is what it is.
I can't claim I'm the world's greatest mom. Hell, I don't even think I'm that great of a mom. But I love caring for my kiddo and if I could, I'd have at least 2 more. The person my child is growing into is someone I am so intensely proud of. Her confidence, her sense of right and wrong, her curiosity, her tenacity, her humor....the list goes on and on. There is no putting into words how great that feels. I'm also beginning to feel the guilt of passing along some of my lesser qualities. My child is only 9 years old but she is starting to exhibit signs of depression. She tells me she's sad but doesn't know why. She describes a lot of the same emotions I felt as a child. These are the moments I wonder if I've been selfish by having a child in spite of my family history of depression and anxiety. But then I remember that when I was first experiencing what would later be diagnosed as manic depression, I couldn't talk to my parents about it. I couldn't go to them and tell them how I felt and know that they would help me in any way possible. Having parents who cared enough to walk with me through my struggles would have made all the difference in the world. I know my child will be okay b/c she does have those kind of parents. She doesn't have to face anything alone and if the world beats her down, she will always have a safe place to land. And she knows it.
Another question I received in response to my fb post was pretty good & I'd just like to briefly respond to it. Chrysi wrote:
"How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
To which I reply: a woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.