Saturday, October 20, 2012

To Have or Not To Have

Today has been another difficult day.  Our visit with my son last night did not go well.  Within three minutes he was argumentative and rude, at which point I gave him the letter I had written for him and told him I loved him and would see him later.  It has been ages since I have been able to effectively disengage from his inappropriate behavior.  Usually he follows me around the house, even breaking through locked doors if need be.  There is something very satisfying about being able to walk out the door and know I am not going to be followed, harassed, or threatened.

Life has a funny way of tossing interesting ideas on your lap and the most ironic times.  When I booted up my computer a few minutes ago, there was an article entitled, "35-Year Old Refuses to Have Children".  Okay, besides the absolute melodrama in the title, I seriously began to think about this woman and what she did and didn't want to do.  She does want to live her own life and do things that some parents would consider selfish—travel, go out all hours of the day and night, pursue her own career.  What she doesn't want to do is have to put her own goals aside for a sniveling little tot who is totally dependent on her.

It would be very easy for me at this point—after being literally abused physically and emotionally for months—to wish I had never agreed to take custody of my child.  I have thought before about what my life would have been like had I been childless, or even more intriguing, had my own biological child.  Would my own child love me more?  Would he be interested in music like I was at that age?  Would he be loving and sweet, ethical and strong, and someone I would be proud of?

I have a close friend who has a child with similar behaviors and diagnoses as my own son.  He is her own biological child, and while he is not as severe as my own son, he does cause worry and concern for her.  She has brought up the very valid point that having your own biological child is no guarantee that you will have smooth sailing.

I often find myself making excuses for myself, as in "he is not my biological child; he experienced some early trauma before I got him."  While this information is 100% true and absolutely useful for a therapist, it sounds guiltily like an excuse when I use it to excuse myself for my own child.  In the end it doesn't really matter and people will think what they will.  He is a sick child.  Just as I have written about a strong, special young woman who had CF and a successful double lung transplant, my son is extremely ill.  His reasoning is faulty.  His thinking is convoluted.  He needs help far beyond what I can give him at home.

And in the end, despite the pain I have felt for so long, I honestly don't recall ever wishing I had NOT taken this child.  I have wished he lived elsewhere, I have prayed for his health and healing, I have cried for an answer to my prayers.  But I have never wished he was someone else's child, someone else's "problem".

I don't fault any woman who doesn't want a family.  My God, my best advice is if you don't feel that drive, do NOT do it!  You AND your potential offspring deserve better.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to spend your life exploring the person you are.  In fact, a lot of women would be better off doing just that.

But for those of us who are called, who feel the ache of an empty womb, the thrill of a tiny life in our arms, the dream of watching a child grow under our watchful eye, we commit.  We commit to providing wonderful experiences, to carrying babies safe and snug inside our bodies, or protecting them in the arms of love once they come to us.  I love my son more than I can say.  I kissed his boo boos, watched and cheered when he learned to swim and play ball, helped him with homework, took pictures on the first day of school.  I sent in treats for parties and planned family vacations and holidays.  Every moment we have had has not been completely overshadowed by mental illness.  And for that I am incredibly grateful.

For those of us who feel the calling, we will go as far as we can, and that love is never-ending.

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