Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Idea of Kids

We  made a huge, awful, hurting decision today. We are closing our fostering license.
   It's something we've been thinking about for awhile now. We aren't happy with the way the agency treats us. I, in particular, have a hard time being...open with kids. Let me explain.
   I grew up thinking that I was an inconvenience to my mother, and raising my sister (as best I could). When I parent children, all I know how to show is irritated or businesslike.  I'm not good at connecting with the kids. I can't let them in. I'm cold an impersonal or fake.
   I feel like such a failure. My husband has wanted to be a dad forever. I feel like I've taken this away from him. But he said that he would rather have me happy and no kids than miserable with kids. I just can't help but feeling like I've forced him to make an impossible choice.
   We're ending our bid for the other family, too. We talked about it, and realised that we'd fallen in love with the idea of kids. We don't know much about the family, besides an online profile. Our main emotional connection happened in our heads, our fantasies.

   I'm feeling relieved, a bit, because parenting was such a struggle. I had to fake nice, fake concern, fake caring. When I felt like the kids were sapping my energy, my time, my husband's attention.
   I feel like a horrible person for admitting this. I was raised that motherhood is what women do. And here I am, having opted for no kids in 2 different ways. First, through infertility. Now for not fostering.
  I feel like I gave up. Could I have warmed to kids? Could I eventually learn to love them? I don't know. Truthfully, I'm sure it will take years of therapy for me to work through the issues in my head.

   But at the end of the day, I was a foster parent for all of 8 months, and couldn't hack it. Maybe my mom was right, and I just wasn't mother material.

15 comments:

  1. Maybe your mom is right. And SO WHAT? You are so much more than just one thing. So you're not cut out to be a mom. You're still a wife, a blogger, and many other things I don't know about because you don't share them here. You're a whole person, not just one aspect of a person.
    Although honestly, I think you not being mother material is debatable. Fostering kids for a few months is not the same as raising children for years. You're trying to work with kids who already have huge issues. You don't have the trust you have with biological children or kids you've had for a while. Not that I'm trying to convince you of anything! If it's not for you, I'm glad you realize it. But if you ever do decide you want to try again, remember that this is a very difficult path and other types of motherhood may be easier for you.

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  2. Everything Courtney said. Connecting with kids in the system who have a hard time trusting themselves is not an easy thing. They come to you with their own baggage so you can't completely blame yourself.

    And, like Courtney, I'm not trying to change your decision. Just saying that take life as it comes and some other path may be in your future that does involve parenting.

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    1. It's possible. Someone brought up mentoring or tutoring awhile ago. We may consider that.

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  3. I agree with Courtney and Amie Lou! A childfree life may very well be the best decision for you but most people (including experienced and loving parents) find that foster parenting stretches them beyond their limits. Most people won't even attempt it because it's so challenging. I have no idea whether it would be a good fit for you but I can guarantee that if you ever pursued infant adoption that it would be an entirely different ballgame. Bonding with a child really is a two way street and it's near impossible to bond with kids that are actively trying to sabotage the process. Babies, on the other hand, are so driven to form bonds with their caregivers that they will still love even abusive and neglectful parents. The fact that you have formed intact bonds with your husband and others is a pretty good indicator that you could also bond with a child if you so chose.

    That doesn't mean that your impatience or childhood triggers would magically melt away (they wouldn't), although a less traumatized child would likely be much less challenging. It also doesn't mean that motherhood is the best choice for you. Taking some time to sort it out with a therapist is probably a wise call.

    Whatever you ultimately decide though I can say with certainty that motherhood has nothing to do with how worthwhile you are as a woman. To be really honest, I think I contributed to society more before I had kids. And relying on my kids to bring worth and meaning into my life would be incredibly unfair to either of us. I know this must have been a tough decision for you. Best of luck with everything!

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    1. Thank you so much for your support. :D

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  4. Personally I think it's wise of you to realize that being a parent may not be for you. I don't think you owe anyone an explanation, that's a decision to be made by you and your husband, no one else has any right to make you feel guilty.

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    1. I hope it's the right one.

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    2. Like so many other important decisions, I feel like there is no right or wrong, no better or inferior for this decisions; just different. And different is not wrong.

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  6. Your experiences in foster care sound horribly stressful - I'm amazed you've kept your licence as long as you have. God knows I'd of sent my papers back with the first troubled kid that the caseworkers tried to stick you with for a long time.

    You've said many times that your husband has wanted to be a father for a long time. You've also said that he has an overly-idealistic or perhaps overly-simplistic view of children and their relationship with parents. While things might be different with biological children, there would still be hurdles - both predictable and unpredictable. What I'm trying to say in a stumbling way is that you aren't preventing your husband's dream from coming true by not having kids - his dream family would never honestly occur. Even healthy, loving, intact families have times where parents and kids don't get along. To quote my aunt, "You always LOVE your kids; you don't always LIKE them."

    Therapy helps. I've been in for over 10 years now and am still learning new things about myself and how I interact with others. You and your husband will find new ways of interacting with each other and the world. There are many ways to have children in your lives besides being parents. I've touched over 500 teenagers lives through teaching and tutoring. I love it.

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    1. I'm talking to my husband about tutoring or mentoring. I think it's still too early to decide what we want-we need to detox a bit.

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  7. Your husband could join the Big Brother/Big Sister program. That way he can bond with a child and be an important part of its life, and you don't have to be part of the relationship in any big way. Fostering is very different from raising your own children and a whole lot harder. I've raised my son, who I adore, but really I don't want to be a mother to anyone else. I'm not especially maternal. My own son adapted to that. You have to adapt to foster children and most of them come with a ton of baggage that's more than anyone should have to deal with. I know you feel like a failure, but I think you aren't. I think you are just a really nice person who needs to find another way to contribute. My son's elementary school is always looking for people to come in a read with children who have trouble reading. Something like that is rewarding, but not all consuming.

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    1. What a great idea! I think I will talk to himi about BigBrothers/Big Sisters.
      It's also reassuring to hear that kids adapt to their parents-I was afraid that I would screw the kids up for life.
      And I never considered helping kids read. Thanks for that, as well.

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