Monday, July 16, 2012

Day 16: The Having of Children

Half-way mark!  This is the first NaBloPoMo I've done where it doesn't seem to have increased my traffic or comments.  Which was a bit unsettling at first, but I think I've gotten used to it.  I feel like the discipline in composing something every day is still good for me.

Today's topic is "When did you know you wanted or did not want to have kids?"  Oh, so we're getting serious now.  No more bubble wrap!

This is a weird question for me.  Because I don't remember WANTING kids.  Or NOT wanting kids.  I just assumed I'd have them, and probably a few.  I think this is because of my upbringing.  As the oldest of four, there was never a time I wasn't around kids, or around mothering, since my mom didn't work outside the home.  It just seemed the natural order of things.

Funny word: "natural."  For some reason, I could never picture myself actually HAVING a kid.  I've talked about this before, but the whole idea of getting and being pregnant seemed way too hocus-pocus-y to actually happen to me.  Of course, I also believed I wouldn't be subject to the same biological imperative that caused OTHER people to get pubic hair, either.  So you can see where I was coming from.  

And that's why when I actually did try to get pregnant, after a fairly long adult era of being totally horrified by the idea, it was only a couple months before I concluded, "Welp, just as I thought.  Doesn't work for me."  Which is why it's pretty spooky that this turned out to be true.  And that no one ever figured out why.  Of course they can't figure out why, myself concluded.  They're not freakin' magicians.  

Again and again, we were told we had all the raw materials and factory-standard parts to make people, but year after year, this did not happen.  And while it was devastating, it wasn't surprising.

When people asked why we decided to adopt from China after several years of the ordinary channels failed, they often said things like "You must want a baby so badly."  And truthfully?  Not so much.  There was never a time I saw other people's adorable, tiny attention-hogs and felt my body and soul cry out for this relationship.  My reasons for adopting were far more pragmatic.

When I pictured myself 65, and then tried to picture myself 65 and childless, I couldn't do it.  Or rather, I didn't want to.  I didn't like that picture.  And of course, I understood that in that picture, it would genuinely be too late.  I'd have sailed through my child-bearing (and child-rearing!) years with my fingers in my ears going "LA LA LA" and now I'd have no one to blame but myself if I regretted it.

And I didn't want to regret it.  That fear of regret--nay, that strong instinct that I WOULD regret--is what spurred me on.  It was time to get my ducks in a row so I could avoid the regret that would inevitably follow if I didn't.

Does this sound cold or calculating?  That's okay.  I often say that people who have biological children have the LUXURY OF AMBIVALENCE.  They can sit around all day going, "Uh, what have we done?" but a few seconds of romping and red wine is still going to yield them a family whether they're in the mood or not.  When you decide to adopt, you have to be cold and calculating.  After all, what's less natural and organic and beautiful than months and months of paperwork and interviews and fingerprinting?  You have to stay focused on the end result, but when it's midnight and you're making an hour's worth of copies at Kinko's because the notary is coming first thing in the morning, it's hard to feel all swoony and romantic about it.

But the beautiful and natural thing that does happen?  Is that some day, a baby arrives, and the circumstances may be strange, and you may be on the other side of the planet having just spent two hours on a bus with strangers and your baby may be wearing red leather boots and have a lollipop in her mouth and you may feel like you're in a dream with all the other babies bashing into your shins with their walkers while they scream and snot their lungs out, but someday, and probably someday really soon, you realize that you love this little person fiercely, terribly, swoonily, NATURALLY and that, whatever your reasons and methods that preceded this moment, you are now a PARENT in love with YOUR child, and you will lift schoolbuses if you must to make sure your child is safe and happy.

And that part?  Is just as spooky and mystifying as all the other crap.  And just as true.


Jen said...

Aw, I love this. It is so beautifully said. Well done, Miss S. xo

Jen said...

p.s. yeah--where IS everybody! Maybe they're all over on Facebook?

Stephanie said...

I love your take on the subject, so real.

I made the same assumption and probably only "knew" when I was told I couldn't.

Mary said...


So lucky to have you put words to our many similar feelings!



ewr2san said...

Bravo! Brave. Big round of applause to your wonderful family.

Paul and Heather said...

We would so be friends if we met in real life :) I could never picture myself getting or being pregnant either. I never even tried. It was that bloody foreign a concept to me, I never went off the pill...just straight to adoption.
We also never really "wanted" kids. We just didn't want to regret NOT having kids.
Just like you...turned out to be the best "non-emotional" decision we ever made. Hsin-Hua is the coolest kid on the planet (except maybe Jarrah of course!)