Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being a parent

I am not sure this is the right place for this but damn do I need to unload this frustration.
This is about being a parent.

I am not an expert. I have given birth to three children all under different circumstances. My first child was concieved when I was very young, I knew I wanted her, never a doubt. I was too young to have a child but I lived on my own, supported myself with a decent job. I was afraid, at the time that fear made me feel inadequate but now I realize that the fear I had was maturity, I didn't take my situation lightly. I understood what an awesome responsibility a child would be.

I didn't set out to get pregnant I was just young and experiencing sex for the first time. My boyfriend at the time was much older than me and assumed I had the birth control figured out. I married him and after 26 years I am still married to him.

When Aly was born I changed, I became a person outside of myself. I had never known such love, I felt like a super hero.

When we were ready to buy our first house I decided that it was time to give Aly a sibling. My husband disagreed. He didn't want more children. I on the other hand wanted a house full. I wanted six. I imagined a table full of kids eating spaghetti, laughing, sharing stories. I imagined pajamas, trips to the grocery with a line of kids holding hands. I dreamed of backpacks, and bath time. I fantasized that I would be Wendy and tell bedtime stories to a room full of pink cheeked children who adored me and whom I loved with all that I was.

I had a second child but only because my husband had decided two was it and I would have to get the above mentioned fantasy out of my head. I didn't get it out of my head, it is still there, always has been and it has been one of those things that hurts to think about.

Maybe it isn't practical, maybe it isn't fair to children to have to share so many siblings with so few parents. I know that financially it isn't easy and emotionally I would be drained, my whole life would be about raising kids, cooking, doing laundry and running around dropping off and picking up. It was anyway...

It took me twelve years, many fights, many tears, and my husband getting a job that he loved to convince him to let me have my third child. Six weeks later he got a vasectomy. Six years later my youngest daughter died.

My family is even smaller.

I enjoy being a mom. I also enjoy bitching about no sleep, a car that smells like pee, no time alone, days without showers, money woes and play-dough you can't get out of the carpet. For me it is a whole experience. I am not a great mom, I don't spend my days at the school, my kids spent the first year of their life in diapers and not much else, I let them sleep in my bed as long as they wanted, I told them fairies and ghosts were real, Santa was not, and let them eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

I took baths with them, made clothes for barbies, let them run in the sprinklers naked, danced with them in the living room, yelled at them way too much, never ever spanked them, didn't let them drink soda but let them stay home from school when they felt like they needed a break.

I could have been a better mom but I kinda like the mom that I am. I am the mom I wish I had.
I am unconditional and I love my children more than I love anyone or anything else. They come first in my heart and in my life.

There is a woman who has six children, and now has eight more. She is not married, does not have a job, lives with her parents, and a nanny to take care of her children while she goes to school. All of her children were born using in-vitro fertilization. She is all over the news being offered book deals, movie deals, free products and is even being viewed as a victim because her last eight children were the result of eight embryos implanted at the same time.

(Aly's remark as to this woman being a victim is "so she went to the fertility doctor because she had a headache?")
This is a train wreck. Her mother is quoted saying "She has always wanted children since she was a teenager"

I get wanting children, I get wanting a big family. What I don't get is breeding without the ability to care for all the children you bring into the world. We see this all over the world were birth control is not available, were there isn't enough education, were socio-economics effects judgement.

This woman is training to be a therapist?

I feel she has blurred the line between a love for children and neglect. I don't know her and what I know about her story is what the media has leaked and what her friends and family have revealed.

Who will take care of all these children? Who will pay for special services, food, clothing, dental and medical bills. How can a single woman who can not even support herself take care of all these babies?

I also want to know how she could afford all the fertility treatment. I have friends who both have good jobs and health insurance but could not afford in-vitro because of the cost. Their medical insurance wouldn't cover it and it was incredibly expensive. They have no children, instead they have become extra parents for all of our children sharing our experiences and holding our hands through the hard times.

A friend of mine told this woman is not so different than Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Part of me wanted to slap myself for forgiving the rich and beautiful but berating the poor. The difference is that The Pitt family does have the resources, they also adopt children who need homes and families. They can take care of these kids and they are not asking anyone else to do it for them. They also give so much to charities that help feed and house children and families.

I am not saying only the wealthy should be allowed large families. What I am saying is that you should be able to care for the children you bring into your life. I am all about hand-me-downs, and a grocery budget. There is nothing wrong with little kids sharing a bed and toys. But fourteen children, eight of the same age, no income, no home, no partner? I understand her support system is her parents. They have been helping her but her mother is quoted as saying that she feels obligated to the children to help, and not happy with her daughters choice to bring so many children into the world.

It seems irresponsible and unfair and Maybe I am bitter because she has that big family, maybe it hurts that I lose a child and she gives birth to eight... Maybe it sucks a little that a woman who lives in ghetto with all five of her children is called a "Welfare Queen" and this woman is being offered free diapers and a book deal.

Is it me?

A parent is not a person who gives birth to children. A parent is a person who chooses to be responsible for another human being. My friends who do not have children are the best parents I know. They love unconditionally, share what they have without any reservation, give because they love to, and have walked with all of us through our lives asking for nothing in return.

I am sad about this imbalance.

I still want my big family but I am going to have to make a big family out of the people who love me and who I love. I am going to fill my kitchen table and leave an empty chair and plate for the child who should be there but has to live in heaven instead.


Anonymous said...

Kudos to you Cuzzin'!! I couldn't agree more! So many people spend so much money trying to have the child they so desire, and here this woman is living off her parents, no husband in site and because some dr. was okay with the idea of her having 8 more children in addition to the 6 at home...is beyond me. And, yes, I would love to know how she was able to afford it!!

Kathy said...

In addition to all the valid points you bring up, that woman deliberately endangered the lives of those 8 babies by attempting to give birth to that many simultaneously.

But I think that perhaps people are "on" to her. On the radio here in San Diego they're referring to her as "Octo-Mom".

Let's hope.

FoxFamilyFive said...

It's definitely not just you. Ange K and I had a very emotionally charged discussion on this woman and her obsession earlier this week. It's just not right, no matter how you look at it.