Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pulling Out My Hair

Sorry that I didn't post a review yesterday.  We got our first respite foster kids. They are supposed to stay for the weekend. A brother and sister, and the girl is autism spectrum.
   I had always heard growing up that women were naturally nurturers, and far better suited to raise kids. In Mormondom, that's like the 11th commandment: Thous shalt have thy women be housewives.  Well, I don't know if it's because the first kids we've ever had are special needs, or there's something wrong with me.  But all I want is for these kids to go away so I can have my life back.  I feel selfish for wanting to do things when I want, on my time. I'm a bit jealous because my husband enjoys spending time with the kids, and I'm holed up in the bedroom.
   I'm discouraged because all my life I was taught that this is the apex of happiness for me.  Being a housewife and having kids around.  And I hate it so much. I've always hated staying at home, anyway, but add in these kids (and I'm not bagging on the kids, I swear), and I'm pulling out my hair in frustration.
   Perhaps it's because the kids are young-10 and 7.  But they just need constant attention, supervision-needs all over the place.  I realize for those of you with kids, that this is no revelation.  It was for me, though. Before, when I had babysat, you park kids in front of the TV and they are good for a few hours.  (I understand that's not great parenting techniques, but respite care is like a weekend vacation for the kiddos).
   I have never been nurturing, or anything like that.  Honestly, part of the reason I was OK with doing foster kid classes is because my husband wants kids so much.  I wish I could find a job that pays reasonably well, and he can stay home.  That would work best for both of us.
   So the plan right now is to try one more weekend with different kids, preferably teenagers.  I've always gotten on well with teenagers. I'm not patient enough to deal with the neediness of small children. I accept that, and yet it still hurts. But if having teenagers doesn't work out, either, then we will stop fostering, and I work for a few years to find a career that will support the family, and my husband will stay home.
 But there's this voice in the back of my head telling me I'm a failure.  Chiding me because I want more than what should be my station.  Disparaging me because I'm not warm or maternal. And as much as I try to tell myself that people are individuals, not gender roles, it still hurts.  Mostly because I feel like I'm disappointing my husband.   Sometimes there's just no winning.

4 comments:

  1. Whoa. When my oldest was born I didn't feel that instantaneous bond that some mothers do. Sure I felt like he was cute and I certainly didn't have negative feelings toward him, but I just didn't have that deep maternal connection. I fed, changed, rocked, kissed, sang and cared for him to the best of my ability. But I did it more from duty than love. Secretly I fantasized about my pre-kid life and was terrified that I'd made the biggest mistake of my life. Then a couple months later something clicked and I could feel that bond starting to take root. Each week I felt less like an impostor and more like a mom. 4 1/2 years later I can't even begin to describe how fiercely I love that child and how rewarding (and challenging) parenting has been.

    I don't share this to imply that you should just blindly jump into parenting and hope for the best. I think it's wise to evaluate your desires and limitations because once you commit, there's no turning back. If you're not fully on board then you're not ready. However, basing your ability to form parental bonds on a few days spent with someone else's kids is unrealistic to the extreme. This is especially the case with foster kids who have been damaged by years of abuse and neglect. I've heard that it's the norm for foster kids to put their new family through hell for the first year or two as a way of testing them. Many foster parents feel a sense of duty and compassion toward these children, but it's really difficult to actually bond with a child until they're ready to bond back.

    Also, there's nothing wrong with your husband staying home if that's what you both want. Nothing's wrong if you both work either. There's been multiple studies about working vs stay at home parents that demonstrate no appreciable benefits or harm to the kids. In fact, the added financial security of two paychecks can go a long way in alleviating the emotional strain of parenting. Not only do you not have to worry about making ends meet but if need a break you have more options whether it's hiring a sitter for a night away or taking that vacation. The pressure to stay home is more about controlling women than benefiting children (For the record I'm currently a stay at home mom. I made that choice because I enjoy it and because my husband has to work long hours. Now that my kids are older I'm hoping to return to work soon and even to start grad school next year).

    Anyway, good luck in whatever you decide and props to you for not rushing into such a huge commitment. And whatever the outcome it will in no way determine your worth as a woman or a person. Being untrue to yourself helps no one. Trying to force yourself into the wrong mold prevents you from giving what you truly have to offer.

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    1. Thank you so much! You telling me it unrealistic to feel maternal after a day was so comforting. I really appreciate the advice and examples you give. :)

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  2. Yea what she said above. Foster kids and biological kids, or even kids you've adopted for a long time (though not necessarily. Some adopted kids become worse once they hit teen years and the hormons trigger their sexual abuse) are all different. Foster teens are really needy too. Of course, not all kids are the same. I think adopting older children is a great idea, but do know their history and know your limits.

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    1. Thanks! This experience has really helped me know where I draw the line. :D

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