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.