Saturday, January 19, 2008

Musing

I was chatting with an acquaintance recently (names are not important, but she is someone I really like) and she asked me if we were thinking about another kid.

"Thinking, sure," I said, "But these days I'm mostly thinking probably not. We're not ruling it out, but at this very moment, I'm leaning towards no."

She asked me more about my thoughts, and I told her something like this: I am challenged (in every sense of the word) by motherhood. When I imagine adopting a second child (which, due to current wait times, would put a new baby in my life 3-4 years from now) I imagine 5-7 years in which I'd remain at that peak level of challenge. While I understand that after THAT, it would probably be extra-wonderful to have two children (they could be friends, playmates, comrades in the China adoption experience) and I might achieve peace of mind knowing they'll always have each other, there is that 5-7 years that comes first. I am striving to live in the present.

"Why should you feel guilty for feeling your family is complete with one child?" a friend asked me recently. "You and David spent nearly FIVE YEARS trying to become parents. It was a full-time job. It seems perfectly understandable that you're ready to sit back and reap the rewards." When I picture a multi-child household with me at the helm, I envision a level of chaos, noise and mess considerably heightened from what I now experience. And then, when I think about that lifestyle being a CHOICE, I remember that I am not compelled to make it.

I explained this to my friend, who was very understanding...or so I thought. When I said, "Does that make sense?" she nodded vigorously and replied, "Yes, totally, I think it's really important for everyone to know their limitations."

Zoink. Limitations. That stung a bit. Am I limited by the growing sense that I am temperamentally suited to parenting one child? Is it my moral failing that staying at home and maintaining a toddler's schedule sometimes feels to me like standing in quicksand?

I want to emphasize that my friend, mother to two children, meant no disrespect to me. On the contrary, I think she genuinely tried to see my perspective. But it reminded me of a time I told another friend that David and I had initially thought we'd try IVF three times, but after two, we were absolutely, positively done.

"And that's okay," my friend had said. "Some of us are just stronger than others."

Wow. I hadn't realized I was weak. In fact, I thought that deciding I was more interested in becoming a parent than in preserving my genes while gambling on life-long debt and clinical depression while I was at it, took some guts.

But you know what they say: some people see a vase. Some people see two faces about to kiss.

What do YOU see, Dear Readers?

20 comments:

Alleen said...

oh boy oh boy does this resonate with me. It doesn't make you weak or anything else. It just means it is the right choice for YOUR family.

I never saw myself having only one child. But, hey, things don't always end up the way you once envisioned them once reality (and life) set in.

I, like you, have to admit I just don't really think I have the personality to parent more than one child. If that's a limitation, well, heck, at least I recognize it.

Type (little) a said...

I see it as a perfectly valid choice. Not selfish, or weak or whateverthehell. Isn't it better to KNOW what YOU want and what is best for YOUR FAMILY, than to have a second child because you're supposed to want to?

Chinazhoumom said...

You know - being single - my plans were to return to China to have a sister for K and another daughter - but now that China - SLAMMED that door in my face - I sit back and think - do/did I wish "just a sister" or a sister that shared her unique heritage - and I think my mind was wrapped around the later...Since I can't clone myself yet-I believe our family is complete - one mom - one daughter and 2 cats-and lots of friends and relatives!
*but hey if I win the lottery - things may change :-)

Anonymous said...

Some people see one person hoisting the vase above another's head to crash it down upon....

It has taken guts my friend, to know where your lines are and to darn well move the lines when you knew it was time to do so.

I commend you on knowing yourself well enough not to choose to take the chaos up a notch. I know myself well enough as well, but it is not greater courage or a wider set of limitations, that leads me down unconventional paths to #2; it may be insanity, stupidity, fear, romanticism, or who knows what....please be at peace with your own decisions and as you already know...I shall remind you, your friend/aquaintance knows not of what she speaks, and she means no harm.

Cheri said...

I must mull this over some more, but my first response is to say without hesitation that I see you, I have always seen you, as loving and generous and wise and courageous. Loving to travel across continents to bring your child home. Generous to embark upon a lifelong journey to share all that you and David have to give with her. Wise to recognize the flawed, but good intentions of your friend. And courageous to talk about this as openly and directly as you with everything.

Love, Cheri
XOXOXO

Sam said...

Thanks for your wise words, Readers. And your compassion! I guess my path to parenthood hasn't been conventional so far, so why feel pressured to take on convention now? ;)

Anonymous said...

I see a strong woman who will decide what she wants to do, talk it over with the only other person who really should have a say, David, and try not to let her sensitive side get hurt by anyone else's second-guessing.

Best, Gail

Martha said...

My friend, who at the time was parenting one child, was told by another mother (of two) that she saw parenting one child as a hobby.

My friend saw red. Who can blame her?

Everyone's parenting experience is different and special, whether it involves one or 17.

What do I see?

I see a strong, funny, thoughtful, multi-dimensional soul. And, a red- headed babe!

Jen said...

I think it's a strength rather than a limitation to:

1. Know your OWN mind, and not cave into the social pressure to avoid being the mother of an "only child," like it's some form of abuse to raise a child without a sibling; and

2. Persevere with such resilience through IVF and the adoption process.

There is NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING, about any of your choices that indicates one iota of weakness! Quite the opposite!

So glad to see you've gotten such validating and thoughtful responses to this post, you red-headed babe, you!

xo
Miss J

Jennifer said...

Well, I'm not a parent yet so I'm not sure my thoughts matter. But...I'll add them...I think each person/family must decide for themselves what their family will look like. I don't find having just one child a limitation...if that were the case then my sister would be in that category as well and I see her as a fabulous mother. She's just a mom who only wants one child.
The glimpse you have given me through your blog into your family has been so enjoyable. You have been honest about parenting and how tough it can be and also how rewarding and amazing life as a parent can be. You have an amazing little family! It's not a limitation...it's a blessing!

Jennifer

Sam said...

[sniff] Okay, now you guys are being TOO sweet to me. :) And I love it. :)

And Jennifer, your thoughts absolutely DO matter. Thank you.

Jennifer said...

Each person/parent/family does the best they can in light of their circumstances and situation. Knowing yourself, your family, and what you want for your daughter that you spent 5 years, thousands of dollars, and travel 1/2 way around to embrace into your lives is STRENGTH beyond anything anyone else can know. YOUR choices are the best for you and your family and that is 3 kissing faces in your vase.

Anonymous said...

Sam, I could really relate to this post, as so many of the same questions have been going through my mind. It's so hard to sort through when nothing has gone as planned. I was supposed to have two school-age biological children by now - HA! What happened? But here I am loving my baby to pieces, with my creaky knees and wrinkles and all. It's hard to let go of what you always assumed would happen, and figure out what the new wishes and hopes and realities are and to feel okay about all that, both with yourself and with the pressure from everyone who feels compelled to put in their two cents despite knowing nothing about what it is really like to be you in your situation.

All I know is, Jarrah is one incredibly lucky girl to be with you and Sam.

xo,
Laura

Anonymous said...

Ah, that would be, one lucky girl to be with you and David. :-)

See, I am losing a few more brain cells every day....

xo,
Laura

Sam said...

Laura, it's so awesome of you to check in--your thoughts are beautiful (and so is your daughter! MAN! :)) I miss you guys!

Jennifer, I got a little teary when you said that about the three faces kissing. :)

Anonymous said...

I miss you guys too, Sam! I got all teary reading this post, as it not only touched a nerve but made me wish terribly that we lived in the same place so I had someone to talk to over a cup of joe about this who really understood, I mean really. Even my closest most well-intentioned friends and family members can't begin to fathom the path we've been down. I think you can.

xo,
Laura

Anonymous said...

Sam, I can't imagine a more perfect family than you, David, & J. Dust. Can't imagine it.

Nope. Y'all are exemplary of my concept of "perfect family."

xoxox,
Tee

Sam said...

Laura, we will get that cup of joe before long, I am determined! Let's chat on the phone very soon.

Tee, you little rascal you. What can I say but..."LA LA LA! UNCLE <...>!"

Anonymous said...

And I have chosen not to have any children. Does that make me weak? A bad person? Immoral? My answer is d) none of the above. I love children, I love reading your blog about children. I love my nieces and nephews so much that I will take them (and have taken them) into my household any time they are in need--without question. But I do not want children of my own. Being a lesbian makes that a little easier--fewer societal expectations--but even that social norm is changing.

Shape your life the way you want to shape it.

Love, Sarah

Sam said...

Thank you, Sarah. So true, so true.

smooches,
Sam