Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mother's Day

*Note: Originally written on Monday, 5/12/08, the day after Mother's Day.

So I read other people's blogs, mostly women, and I read about their mothers and their kids and their miscarriages, the assorted tragedies of being a person on Earth at this time. And I, like most people, compare my life to what I read, not necessarily in a judgemental way, just comparing, measuring differences. Quite often, the biggest difference is motherhood. As in, I'm not a mother, and most likely never will be. I think there is a biological component. I'm fertile, as far as I know, but I'm at an age when most women have either had children, or their biological clock is booming like a Taiko drum, and mine isn't. It would probably not be easy for me to get pregnant now, there would be a high risk of Down's Syndrome and other abnormalities related to aged eggs, and yet, there is only the tiniest whisper of If you want it, it has to be soon. Mostly, there is deep ambivalence when I think about pregnancy and a child of my own. I don't want it the way most women seem to, the way one friend did, desperately trying to get pregnant even though she had serious doubts about her fiancee. Or the woman who's husband didn't want kids, so she poked holes in his condoms. To me, that speaks of a yearning I don't feel, lengths I'm unwilling to go to. I don't know what I expect, maybe a deep clutching sensation in my uterus, but it's just not there.
My mother wasn't a particularly good one, not like some mothers I read about, sacrificing for their children, making sure they're taken care of. I admire women who are that way, who want better for their kids and work hard to ensure it. I had some interesting, mind-expanding times with my mom, but generally I feel she was selfish and neglectful. She did things because she wanted to, and dragged her kids along when she had to, often leaving us behind. Which is a good way to make a child feel abandoned and unloved. I think my little brother felt it more than I did, since my early childhood was more stable than his.
I like kids, I babysat a lot when I was younger, and I enjoy being around little ones, but still, there is only the barest thought of Do I want a baby? Maybe it's a balance thing, I don't feel I have space in my life for pregnancy and kids, what with having a disabled husband and a job and aspirations of a literary nature. Or maybe I'm just pathologically lazy, kids are a lot of work and I don't want to have to deal. I do have the idea that I could be like Josephine Baker and after I'm wildly successful, adopt a huge, multicultural family of needy kids. That seems like a really cool thing to do.
I had an uncomfortable conversation with an elevator inspector once. He was asking about my family and if I had children, he had six!, and when I told him I was childless, he looked at me with pity and condecension and asserted, "Why? Children are the joy of life!" I made some flip comment like, "Not always." or something like that (I mean, were Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson really the joy of their parent's lives?), when what I should have done is given him a teary, wide-eyed look, and said sadly, "I was in a horrible accident when I was young and I can't have children." Would have served the presumptuous dickhead right.


Melliferous Pants said...

I once had a co-worker ask how my children were. When I told her I didn't have kids she ARGUED with me that I did have kids! Way to make a single, childless woman feel good.

People are dumb, they should keep their mouths shut.

Susan said...

I totally relate J. to the whole Mother's Day thing. No children myself and I've passed the point of no return although I have had occasional regrets ... I have a 20 year old nephew who is an amazing kid and sometimes I long for a teen age boy of my own, a son. Just like Michael.

I have no relationship with my own mother, I finally cut ties completely after years and years of accepting her selfish and self centred ways. It's much less hurtful to pretend that I don't have a mother. So mother's day is just another fairytale day for me. These loving, caring and doting mother's seem like space aliens to me ... and I am jealous of people who have those alien mother's ... and I always will be.

I think one day you might consider adopting a dog, maybe even a puppy. I think that's the next best thing to having children. I know that I have loved my dogs more than I've ever loved any person. If only they lived longer lives.

Have a nice long holiday weekend, you & NSA and we'll chat about our upcoming swap next week.

xo, S, Winn, Lulu, Bleet, Oliver and Gussie

anya said...

Once I encountered a similar happening. My husband, our one son and I were in the Dominican Republic. Years ago. Every old grandmother and mother we encountered looked at our young, strong and healthy family and lectured us on having just one child, and asked very personal questions of perfect strangers such as when would we have more and why weren't there more already. I was pretty spunky then and always happy to create a little shocked response from people so I was quick to state that I would not have any more. Got a lot of head shaking and tut tuts. I think it was a cultural thing.

I grew up in a contentious family of four kids and parents who fought constantly. I decided I'd keep a more serene home and no way would I have a house full of kids.

And ditto on the Mother thing. Friends could not believe when I finally just mentally, emotionally and physically banished my mother from my life. But from that moment forward, my life was much more peaceful. To me she was dead. I had no feelings left for her. Sometimes you've just got to think of yourself; and sometimes the most radical thing is the thing your self needs.

Godless Sunday said...

Couldn't agree more. So frickin' rude.

Lisa said...

Obviously not everyone wants kids. The reality is that if you do have a baby, that baby does become the center of your life and you can not imagine otherwise.

Just so you know, I'm 43 with a baby. I had the nuchal fold testing done in the 1st trimester just so I wouldn't worry about Down Syndrome the whole time. Whichever way you decide, it IS your decision and people should respect that.

Kathy said...

Seriously, who asks things like that!?! I applaud women who know themselves well enough to admit kids are just not for them. They are A LOT of work. The are extremely demanding. They are certianly not for everyone and every mother reflects and misses what life was like before kids at SOME point. You make the decision that's right for you right now...if you change your mind down the road I'll send you one of mine. ;)