So I have been at my desk literally for like 45 minutes talking to our IT tech about kids. He’s a 42yr old father of four and apparently he’s losing his mind. He asks me if I want to start a family and I said yes. He told me not to wait too long and a 45 minute conversation ensues. Another of our co-workers, a much younger female has a little girl who seems to be the light of her life joins us and give a little of her own perspective. I am pushing back as much as I can on the notion that having kids as an older person is the worst idea ever because…well I’m older. And he’s a dude so what does he know?
He knows plenty.
I won’t go into details but during our conversation he said something that really rang true to me in my zero years of being a parent but having read an excellent parenting book a few months ago entitled “The Conscious Parent.” He said in response to the negative way in which his wife was responding to her son who has a severe mental disorder that she had to “mourn the death of the child she wanted to have” and confront the one in front of her.
Yeah, Dr. Tsabary totally explained that in a different way in “The Conscious Parent” but this is the first time I’ve heard anyone I know say anything like that with regards to child rearing. This is why it’s so important to talk to people in person, you know…as opposed to disjointed virtual or one way dialogues in social networks.
Every parent has an idea of the kind of child they want and what I am learning among so many other things as someone considering late motherhood, is that there can be a deep emotional heartbreak involved when you have a child who is totally different than what you desired or expected. Behavioral patterns are one thing. Handling mental disorders or birth defects are something I cannot even imagine. But I know that people deal with their children the way that they they deal with people and life challenges in general and that people often look at other people’s children totally differently than they see their own. You never know what you’re going to get.
I have to be honest, that freaks me out a bit. But not enough to say I will never have a child. I understand that there is always risk involved where creation or birth is concerned and that we all meet challenges in different ways and for different reasons. I can also tell you that I came away from the conversation with a deeper respect for the institution of marriage because children need to know why they are how they are and to be able to connect their identities through their family line and this can be done most successfully through documented forms of ritual unions. We inherit behavior and for better or worse I believe we are able to make better decisions for ourselves once we learn how the connections to our patterns of our behavior have played out in the past, through those who were here before us, our ancestors, and those who still remain. If we are caught up in a bad cycle, we can understand why and begin taking steps towards both acceptance and awareness, thereby breaking that cycle.
I remember sitting in the pastor’s office with my husband several weeks before we got married and going over our family trees together. Wow. If there is ever anything to inform you what your children might possibly be inheriting emotionally and behaviorally, family tree talk is the one. It’s a moment when you realize that you are marrying into one another’s families. It’s a confidential meeting wherein you look at all the twists and turns, losses, gains, disconnections, triumphs and points of pride and celebration or achievement. It’s intense. It’s real. Not everyone knows who their real daddy is. Not everyone is doing okay or accepted into the fold. Not everyone did what was needed or expected of them. That’s life. Some people break from their blood family altogether and find that connection spiritually with others. But you only get one set of parents in your life. And they don’t just bring you here. They have plans. Those plans can make you, break you or shape you depending on how you choose to look at it. As human beings we often operate from a place of unresolved fears. I have plenty of my own. But I don’t want them to come to define who I am as a person or the choices I make, especially the choice of whether or not to have a child.