March 18, 2014

I’ve recently come across a couple of posts that left me saying, “Really?! I mean….really?” They left my brain spinning and wondering whether my world view is so totally different from the rest of the world or if those other women’s views were uncommon. Frankly, I suspect the former but am still left saying…REALLY?

The first was a post with a title that went something like 10 Things I Said I’d Never Do Before I Became A Parent. First off, I should probably acknowledge that any post with a title that starts with X Number of Things… is more than likely a fluff piece that should be taken with a grain of salt. Or at least not literally as it’s written. I’m aware of this but still basically read it…literally. I have issues I guess.

This woman listed things like never feeding her child junk food. It would never be HER child having the public meltdown. HER child would always be clean and wearing booger free clothes. Etcetera. You get the gist.

To which I said, “Really?! You were THAT naïve!?”

Was she the first in her peer group to procreate? Did she never babysit? Was her own mother SuperMom? She must be joking, right? It didn’t read that way to me.

Not to beat up on her too badly, I freely acknowledge that I will likely experience my own surprises at some of the parenting choices I will make. But expecting my kid to never make a mess, never eat a booger, never hit or bite or have a public meltdown… No. Nor do I expect that I will never end up sobbing uncontrollably and thrusting a Happy Meal at my raging toddler. I absolutely expect all that. And more.

Because that’s what I’m signing up for.

Which brings me to the next post that left me incredulous.

I am signing up for PARENTHOOD. Ideally I’d reach parenthood after nine months of an uncomplicated pregnancy carrying my biological child. I said IDEALLY. But that is just one small part of parenthood. Again, IDEALLY, I’d like to experience it all but short of that…I just want to experience as much of it as I can. So I won’t get the pregnancy part for sure. At least, not directly.

If B gets pregnant I’m sure she’ll try to share with me what she can. But it won’t be me. And that’s a loss. But it’s an acceptable loss to me because… BIG PICTURE. After that I get EIGHTEEN YEARS + of parenting. And if she doesn’t get pregnant and we adopt we will miss out on just a little bit more. We won’t know what the pregnancy environment was like and the baby won’t have our DNA. We will lose out on ever knowing what our child – a piece of me combined with a piece of Right Guy – would look like, act like, etc. But we still get EIGHTEEN YEARS + of parenting. Or even 16 years or 10 years if we adopted an older child. The point is, we still get YEARS of hugs and runny noses and smiles and homework and doors slamming and “I hate you!” or “Mom don’t hug me in front of…” or “Dad, you’re embarrassing me!” and achievements and disappointments. We still get ALL OF THAT. And that is what matters most to ME personally.

So when I read a post where the woman, after years of fertility treatments, went to an adoption support group and heard someone say, “You have to decide whether your goal is pregnancy or being a parent” and THAT’s what resonated with her to finally embrace adoption… I got a little ruffled. I mean it’s not about whether you want to be pregnant OR parent. Parenting is an inherent part of the deal. You can’t have the baby and then not parent – unless YOU’RE the one choosing to place your child for adoption with someone else.

So after years of fertility treatments I find it difficult to accept that people are fighting so hard to have a baby only and not to be parents. You have so much more time to think about and question what EXACTLY you are signing up for. You should know you’re signing up for parenthood. And you have plenty of time to read all the 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Parenthood posts you can stand so that you know what parenthood is about.

That said, I absolutely understand some people are not comfortable using donor egg/sperm or with adoption. I understand that, for some people, the biologic connection is paramount and if s/he can’t have that then s/he would rather live child-free. I respect the choice to live child-free NO MATTER WHAT YOUR REASON (even if it’s because you never wanted kids) more than I can adequately describe here. But please don’t claim that your original choice to have children was a pregnancy/birth/baby versus parenting choice. If you’re not in it for the long haul… please, don’t be in it. And anyone who has endured years of fertility treatments has surely thought long and hard about what s/he hopes to get out of it in the end.

If, for you, the pregnancy part really is that important – and you know that – then I’m fine with that. This post is not intended to chide people for the choices they make if they differ from mine. On the contrary, I applaud people who make what I see as more difficult choices presumably because they know themselves well enough to know those choices are not for them. It took me a little while to realize what my issue really was with that post. And it’s this:

It is not about pregnancy vs parenting. It’s about parenting biologic children vs parenting non-biologic children. You simply can’t take parenting out of the equation. But it’s a phrase I’ve heard many times – and even used myself – do you want to be pregnant or do you want to parent? And it’s simply wrong. The answer is always that you want to parent (at least most people who come to this blog do since I mostly write about my efforts to procure a tiny human). Desperately. Some of us are OK with parenting a child with no biological connection to ourselves and some of us aren’t. And that’s OK. But we all want to PARENT so we should just say so.

We’re not 12 year olds who want a puppy but will lose interest when it turns into a dog. This little one doesn’t look like this anymore but I still love her.
kitten on desk


8 Responses to “Parenting”

  1. B Says:

    Can I just say that I am so excited for you to parent? ❤

  2. Arwen Rose Says:

    great post and I agree whole heartedly with everything! I have read a somewhat shocking number of IF blogs where the woman seems a little shocked about what it is to parent, like they never realised a child would have its own opinions and surprisingly early on and it would often be a battle of wills. Granted I grew up with three baby brothers and then have had time to consider parenting since I was told I could never carry a baby aged 18 so 12 years is a lot longer than most, but still! I have felt like smacking myself on the forehead and saying “Well what the EFF did you think a baby would become?!”
    With regard to the parenting vs pregnancy statement, I have heard that too a bajillion times over the course of the 12 years I have known I will never be pregnant and, to me, it always felt like it was them trying to minimise my loss of never getting to be pregnant, as in “don’t mourn it, get over it, you can still be a parent….hey why don’t you JUST adopt?” 😉
    That’s really quite odd that that woman you mention had that statement as a eureka moment, like she thought “Oh what? If you’re pregnant it’s not about parenting but just about pregnancy?! Well no thanks! Adoption here I come…!”
    Odd. Just odd!

    • Fox Says:

      I do understand that sometime people lose sight of the big picture. And perhaps this woman had just just stopped seeing the forest and only saw the trees and that comment jarred her. It can take time to accept these things. I too, have had a longer road than most and more time to process. But. Babies grow up. That point should really never be forgotten.

  3. Yes! Yes! Yes! This post says everything I need to know that you will be a great mother. In fact, you already are. The details are just being smoothed out…

    • Fox Says:

      Thanks! The actual doing of it I’m sure will be a challenge. But I feel like there can’t be too many secrets left about what to expect. Perfection is unattainable so why try?

  4. Jess Says:

    Which is why you’ll be a wonderful parent. Right from the start of our diagnosis, I was open to ALL the options for building a family. What I didn’t realize back in my naive days was that adoption wasn’t so simple as L.M. Montgomery made it seem in Anne of Green Gables: stopping by the orphanage on the way home and picking up a spirited, creative child. Hoping so much that your two are on their way to you any day now!

  5. […] I will have emotional breakdowns over stupid shit when I’m feeling overwhelmed (as I’ve previously acknowledged). But fundamentally I am who I am (and don’t call me Shirley). And I am a person who […]

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