Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lady in waiting

Half way there, just about. Nineteen weeks today.

What am I waiting for? Not just the baby. Waiting for maternity leave (I put up the advertisement for my job last week) so that I can just be "mum" for a while. Oh how I am looking forward to that!

Waiting for the eldest daughter to leave home. Not in a gleeful way - I just don't think it's working out at the moment, sadly enough. We have as many bad and snarky days as good and helpful ones, and I can't see that anyone is particularly at fault. It's just not working out very well. Her needs and desires don't particularly coincide with the way we run our home, and it leads to tension.

Waiting for dd2 to start school next year. I so want this to work out for her. She's come a long way.

Waiting for Clare to start school. Not sure if she is ready. She's so jolly bright, and such a little madam. Perhaps school will reduce the madamness!

Waiting to find the kernel of whatever it is in me that my therapist wants me to find so that I can look after it. Waiting maybe for God to show me that this bit is the bit made in God's image. Waiting for directions on the next step, I guess.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The most tiresome old saw of all...

"Why have children if you aren't going to look after them?"

It's such an easily dismantled judgement against working parents that I am stunned it still gets airplay. As the letter writers to the Age quite succinctly managed to articulate yesterday, there are any number of reasons why parents use child care and there can be few people, even childless people, who really don't get the complexity behind individual family situations.

But it's worth looking at the question minus the judgement and ignorance, because even our righteously outraged responses belie our need to justify our parenting choices, our shopping list of acceptable reasons for using what we seem to be subconsciously tagging as a sub-optimal choice.

The best way for me to talk about why I had children if I was going to "get someone else to bring them up" (that's a fallacy for another post, all on its own) is to talk about my own story.

When I had my first child at the age of twenty, I very much was of Ms Hutchison's bewildered point of view - how could anyone give birth and then surrender care of that infant? Then after another child appeared soon after, my marriage broke down, and I was suffering a severe post natal depression with two children under two. I found myself using family daycare two days a week, because my mental health demanded it. All of a sudden, I understood that sacrificing two days a week did not mean sacrificing my status as mother. (I suggest that most mothers of teenagers wish it were so easy to let oneself off the hook!)

Why did I have those two children? Like many young mothers, there was no reason that I had them other than that a sperm met an egg, and I gestated. Twice. There was no relationship between my reasoning to have them (what little reasoning there was, and I fully own the deficit) and my subsequent decision to use daycare. We functioned as a unit, and there was a need, and as the only responsible parent in the picture, I met the need as best I could.

I know women - stay at home mothers and working-out-of-home mothers alike who have had children for a variety of reasons. Holding their marriage together. A daughter fantasy. A son dream. A desire to heal a fractured childhood. An inability to feel purpose without a foetus on board. An insufficiency of love. Hormones. Intense maternal instinct. A great love of children, babies, laughs, learning to walk and read, the soft skin on a toddler's belly when you push your lips against it and blow raspberries and the ripples of giggles that flow through them to your kiss.

Why have children if.... you are going to shout at them when they are naughty? Choose public schooling? Not give them siblings? Vaccinate them? Not vaccinate them? Not breastfeed them? Pass on family illnesses? These are our assumptions, our judgements, our retaliations against why we think people ought to have children, but how many of us had children "just so we could do everything right"? Is that anyone's motivation for having a child?

It's not mine, and never has been. These are judgements we make after our children are a fact, after they've burrowed into our hearts and we are already caught up on the balancing beam of meeting their needs, assuaging our love, and defending it all against the challenges of a world that insists on throwing us parents off kilter at every turn.

Fast forward twenty years.

Here I am. Without intending it, a sperm met and egg, and I am gestating. I wasn't thrilled about it to begin with, but like many relationships, it's growing on me. At nearly five months, I can feel my little precious baby wriggling around from time to time, reminding me that it's there.

Will I use daycare? Probably, at some point. I'm planning on returning to work after taking a year off to be "just mum". But my income is necessary for the other five children to have the chances they deserve in life, and the world benefits in some small way from the work I do. And my husband and I will go on juggling what we have been juggling for some time while he does the "mum stuff" and I come home from work and ask what's for tea.

So why have this baby? Because I love it. Because it's growing in me, and it's my baby, and will be my toddler and my grown daughter or son. And the fact that it will be in the world and loved is enough reason to have it.

I hope that answers your question, Ms Hutchison.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tempus fugit and all that.

I need to journal.

I'm an attention seeker.

It's time to blog again.

There are so many things different at the moment. There are these ebbs and flows not just in my life but all around me, and it feels like I'm just coming out of a cloud and noticing it all.

There's so much space around me. Space coming up with maternity leave, space at work with having moved off a big project at last, space at home as I begin to get well and can get on top of things a little. Emotional space, psychological space... it all feels a little liberating and a little frightening. I suspect that when I have explored that space, things will appear to have a very different shape, and I'll be moving differently in the space.