Sunday, June 28, 2009

thoughts

I meant to post today about our fun Saturday with our friends who are also IFers. I have pretty pictures of our trip to Gettysburg together, which was fun. But, it takes SO long for my pictures to upload (I know, my life with its enormous difficulties), and after we were up way too late last night (people took over our house!), I slept away the day and feel kind of lethargic. So I am not doing that now.

Also, I had a smallish notion that I wanted to share...

What I really want now is to get in shape and buy a house I love (neither of those things is going to happen this month, of course). And as I often do, I was thinking, well, what will I do with myself after I accomplish those things, if I don't have kids?

I have no good answers for this ever (they're either totally unrealistic and not things I want anyway, or woefully inadequate and would make me always sad), and it occurred to me that I might be interested in being a foster parent. Not foster-to-adopt - my concerns about adoption might well be exacerbated by that particular process (not that I would ever discourage anyone else from pursuing that route if they're comfortable with it), and one of the things IF has made me hate far more than I ever did is the idea of being needy and desperate, of there being something someone else (or life itself) could hold over my head. I don't want to want anything that I can't make absolutely sure I can have by my own efforts. My tolerance for failure and disappointment is pretty much gone (theoretically this is one of those places I should be looking for greater humility, but even when I behave better with my suffering, this doesn't abate. I think it's just become part of who I am - perhaps an indelible spiritual defect, to match the defects in my reproductive system), and if I had to deal with a social worker who wanted me to grovel to get her to approve me despite incorrectly-placed smoke detectors or non-ideal square footage, I would probably stab her in the eye. A homicide conviction is not what I want out of the IF journey.

But usually, no matter what option it is, I draw a nice, sensible, attractive picture in my mind, and take a deep breath and tell myself to give it a chance, and I feel this rising tide of anxiety and resistance in my gut somewhere, that I can't overcome. I think I could point to where it is physically. Oddly, I don't feel that about the foster care notion. It seems like a decent idea. Being a foster parent to school-aged kids would mean that (if I tweaked my schedule only slightly) I could work just as I am now, and be home when they were home. We could pay our bills and pay for our house and save money, because we'd have two incomes. They wouldn't be a substitute for our own kids because they would be temporary, but I see that as a good thing - I don't want a substitute for my own kids. I don't want to settle. I want a substitute for what to do with my life.

I went to law school thinking I could be a legal advocate for abused children and those in custody battles. That hasn't worked out career-wise. But I think this would provide a maybe even more concrete opportunity to help abused and neglected children, something that has always been very close to my heart. And instead of feeling like somebody gave me a consolation prize for my barren womb, I would feel like I'd accepted infertility, lived my life anyway, but then taken my free time and extra space as an opportunity to give something to people who needed it. I haven't felt like I've been in a position to give anything to anyone in a long time. I think that's part of the erosion of my personality - I like to be able to help people, and I feel like my career has made me cold and hard and my infertility has made me bitter and defensive. I'm not the person I want to be. Part of this is my own bad decisions about how to spend my time - I guess I could be volunteering - but nothing really leaps out at me. Good decisions should be more straightforward, and I'm tired of beating myself up over my screwed-up life, as if, had I merely signed up for some extracurricular activity, my life would be bliss. It's not that simple.

The foster parenting idea does have some drawbacks. Obviously, it's not the sort of thing I would try to implement immediately - you know, it would be a few years. And, I could be forty or fifty and the foster kids gone and still have no kids of my own. I don't know how I would feel about that. I might be OK; I don't know. I know older foster kids can be very difficult. I feel as though I could handle that emotionally, but heaven knows it would disrupt my social schedule. Having foster kids would carry all the impediments time-wise of having my own kids, except that they would also probably be very demanding emotionally and I might not just be able to bring them over for play-dates with my friends' kids. (Depending on the particular kids.) If I worked full-time and then came home to clean my house and take care of kids, I might just drop from exhaustion. I feel tired now.

And, my DH is looking at a job that would involve a lot of travel. I am very resistant to this (which has already led to several fights, and I have no intention of backing down any time soon) - I want a home more than anything, and intend to find one and stay anchored there; we need two incomes (or at minimum mine - my income potential is higher), and my job doesn't lend itself to traipsing around the globe; and I'm just not interested in living a nomadic life. I would categorically refuse if we had children - I think that's a terrible thing to do to a child, and most of the military and otherwise traveling kids I know have had a really hard time. I was shy and made friends slowly, and I would have been perpetually miserable. With foster kids, I assume, it would be totally forbidden.

I know he has something of the wandering bug, but I think he needs to understand that that is inconsistent with being married and an adult. The man has $120,000 in student loan debt (I have some too, though less), and he signed all those promissory notes. Adulthood carries with it some responsibilities, and that includes giving up daydreams that are inconsistent with a responsible life. I asked him once what he would want to do if we never had kids at all, and he said he would want to travel. Not go on a nice vacation every year (I would be fine with that), but live abroad, and hop from country to country. I would be acutely miserable. I just want to be home somewhere - that's all I've ever wanted. Part of the reason I wanted children so much is because they would be a governing reason for me to build the stable and happy home I never had as a child. I know the kids wouldn't give me stability - I am an adult and responsible to supply it for them. But they would be the organizing principle, a source of order and logic in my world. I was going to win all these arguments with him by default when we had the kids. Because I was right. Now we don't have the kids and probably won't ever. I guess he deserves credit for moving on and finding a new dream. But I refuse to consider that my vocation as a wife might be to wander after him on his travels and smile pretty. I'm not that kind of girl, we could never pay our bills, and I refuse to live with no home or identity or stability. If it comes down to that, he can travel by himself, and I will buy a house and take in foster kids. So much for my bright idea.

10 comments:

  1. I agree with you...I love my nice home...I couldn't travel a lot either and go from one place to another. Not my bag! My dh and I did agree that if we are going to keep living the childfree life, we would travel more...nicer vacations, that is. We've thought about foster care but for now...we are going to wait on that until I am done with grad school and have worked as a teacher for a few years (get settled). If after all of that is done and we still want to foster, we can look into taking an older child who can go to school so we can both work too. Not too many babies come into foster care so we would have to be open to an older child. Which at that point...would be fine. God bless.

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  2. I sound an awful lot like your husband. lol

    I think being a foster parent is a wonderful idea. I would like to foster, but DH isn't on board, unfortunately. It's a tough, tough job, though. I have taught many adolescents in foster care, and it's usually a rotten world for them - a good home means so much.

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  3. Okay, first of all, the weight loss. For a long time I kept on my extra weight thinking 'i'll just get pregnant so what's the point in losing this extra weight?' but I finally started to lose the weight and I feel so much better about myself. I needed that.

    Regarding fostering, your husband will come around. Trust me. I took Josh and I years to agree to even do the classes for it. Josh finally realized I needed this in order to feel whole in life. How can he say no to that?
    Fostering, like you said, is not something to take lightly. The classes we took were extremely in depth and forced us to do a lot of internal work within ourselves about self-awareness. it's a tough course, but one that, in the end, made us better people. It's a long process. We started in September and still don't have a kid and it's almost July. But what I can say is that through these classes I've been feeling like there is a more a purpose to my IF than I ever thought before. I used to just pity-party myself everyday and now I'm to a point where I think 'maybe there was reason I couldn't have my own babies. Maybe I have so much love to give that I'm meant to give it to those children that really need it?' I know for a fact had we had children by now we never would have gone down the foster-to-adopt path. And now that we're here I can't imagine my life any other way. Sure I still want a bio baby, but now I also want an adopted child. I need that to feel fulfilled.

    Sorry for rambling.

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  4. I totally agree with you. I would not be happy to constantly be on the move. Kyle, theoretically, would like to move every 2 years. Thankfully, that hasn't happened.

    My cousin Eve @ Tranquility & Turmoil (on my right side bar) has been fostering for a few years. She's not right now because they just moved, but she's had kids just over night in emergency situations and she had a few kids for an extended period of time. I'm sure she'd be happy to talk to you about her experience if you ever wanted her to.

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  5. I found that when I started addressing the things in my life I could control--i.e. wanting to buy a place to make into a small farm, my research, music, whatever--it helped with the IF suffering a bit because not EVERYTHING sucked. :) Fostering may be perfect for you, and you and your husband may be able to eventually find a good compromise that doesn't make him feel trapped or deprived and you rootless and drifting. For me, it wasn't the achievement of any end result; it was beginning to take concrete steps that really helped.

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  6. You and your husband will find a common gound with the travel, where ever that is. I'm personally not one to hop from place to place. It would get old fast, not being able to settle in one place for long. I know of people who have done that. I won't say they didn't enjoy it for awhile, but they were happy to settle down in one spot in the end.

    I think fostering would be a good idea. I'm not one who could do that - I have a tendency to get too attached so that letting go is hard on me - but I think it's a wonderful thing for those who feel called to it. Those kids need someone to have patience and to care.

    That's funny about Gettysburg. DH and I nearly went there on Saturday. Gettysburg College is my Alma Mater, so I always enjoy visiting the campus and walking the battlefields. We opted for Hershey Gardens instead. Ah, well, we had fun anyway.

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  7. I was always on the fence about adoption, but always that that I'd want to be a foster parent even if we didn't adopt. Infertility itself put a damper on that one, because I wasn't sure I'd be able to take the heartbreak of getting close to a child just to have them taken away. DH agrees that it would be hard, but he's very open to the idea. I probably never would have thought too much about adoption if we had biological children right away, but fostering was always something I wanted to do. I feel for those kids who just need a safe, stable home for even a short while. Infertility has made me such an emotional wreck though, that I'd really have to be sure I could handle it...
    I am one of those people that gets the itch to move every two or three years - I didn't grow up in the military, but with both DH & I in the military, we've experienced the frequent moves. That's part of the reason we bought our house we have now - for stability, security, and to have a place to build our family. Unfortunately, it's this same house that is tying us to jobs we hate, a state we'd love to leave, sucking up our extra $$, and taking all of our free time (it's so much work!). Wait, you live around here right? Wanna buy a house?
    All joking aside, it sounds like you'd be a great foster parent, and if that's what you want to do I hope your hubby can get on board with the idea.
    We are totally hijacking your post today, sorry!

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  8. Wow, thanks for all the comments! Megan, I might just pester your cousin - maybe not this week, but soon. Most of what I know about fostering is really in theory. I always forget that there are super short-term kids too, and I think it would be nice to be able to provide that stability.

    Callmemama - when was your house built??? (That, irrationally, is my most important housing criterion. OK, MAYBE after location relative to work.)

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  9. Haha, it was built in 1979. No 1800's house here, but still is quite interesting surrounded by woods with decks and such :). We also told our realtor that we didn't want any new construction - our first priority was CHARACTER in a house. Which is why we fired her eventually (no you're right crazy lady, 2003 is technically NOT new construction, but you're missing our point...).

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  10. Do it! I grew up with a foster sister who lived with us for 18 months then came to stay for extended or overnight visits for the rest of her childhood depending on the dramas of her birth family. On paper she looked like a sure fire nightmare and it wasn't easy, she was sent back to a horrible family situation every time but despite having some big problems of her own as an adult she eventually rejected her birth family's influence and sorted out her life. She calls my parents 'mum and dad' because she says the people who broke her skull and both her legs and sold her toys were not parents. She was never adopted but my parents have two children, not just me.
    Do it!

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