Having kids, and disappointment
The Punkin kitty needs to go to the vet, and I am having a hard time making it happen. Getting her there requires calling them for an appointment, catching her and putting her in the carrier, and two separate phone calls for cabs to get there and back (also the risk of chatty drivers there). Even animal medical settings give me a serious case of the willies. Today, I’m not-so-secretly glad that she’s too smart for her own good, and has decided to hole up somewhere for the afternoon; she also pulled the same number yesterday, after Nigel called the vet’s. He will probably have to work from home tomorrow, and take her. It will be easier for me to go too, if he uses the phone and acts as the cabbie interface.
I’m feeling more than a little guilty, because the poor girl is having surely uncomfortable bowel problems, and really needs to have that seen about. Worrying about it is making me less able to function today. I’m also fighting the idea that I’m Just Not Trying Hard Enough, and feeling extra guilty because I’m not the main one being affected by my difficulties. But, the fact remains that the autism and medical-related PTSD do get in the way sometimes, and all the guilt in the world will only aggravate the problem.
This situation is upsetting enough on its own, but it has also gotten me thinking about one truly uncomfortable realization which hit me a couple of months ago: now that my mom is gone, so is most of my hope that I can have kids.
I hadn’t been hesitant to have them because I thought I’d make a bad parent, but because I knew it would require more support than is available here. The two are very different things. My coping abilities have been stretched as it is, trying to go about my daily business and run a nuclear family household–and there’s so much more per capita work to be done, with fewer people in the house! Trying to take care of children without more practical and emotional support would be madness.
In the back of my mind, I’d been hoping to eventually move back home to have kids, with a decent support network in place. (This would help me, even without kids in the picture.) Living close enough to my parents to have some semblance of an extended family setup would have been ideal. Now, that’s not an option, and I have no idea where to look for a similar safety net–or if one is even feasible. Given the trouble I have building a social support network on my own, it’s a good thing I was born into one! It’s doubtful that I’d find such enthusiastic help anywhere else than from my mom. Other relatives who would otherwise gladly help are busy with grandkids already. It may not take a whole village to raise a child well, but it sure does take more than two adults.
Too many people would say, “If you can’t take care of them on your own, you shouldn’t have kids at all.” Nuclear family living isn’t good for kids, IME, even if neither parent is aware of having some special needs. We can all use some help, and it’s so much better if the other people love us and want to help. It’s a good thing that I am aware that I go into sensory overload easily, and don’t deal well with sleep deprivation, for example. Besides the sensory stuff, I have a hard time with parasomnia-level “sleep drunkenness” as it is; I’m just not very functional for at least a couple of hours after I wake up, and if it’s abrupt, I may stay miserably half-asleep all day. (This got worse when I was on certain medications, and has stayed pretty bad.) The upshot is, I’m not always safe handling a glass coffee pot after I’ve woken up, much less a baby–besides running a good risk of feeling like a zombie for years. Parents who have this to a lesser extent–as many do–are still going to be much happier if there is someone to come along and take the kids out somewhere while they recuperate. It’s a win-win situation all around. The kids get lots of affection, and have the opportunity to learn from more adults, while the parents don’t constantly have to be “on”.
Growing up, we lived close enough to my maternal grandparents and my uncle and his wife that I spent a lot of time at both houses, and it helped immensely. It helped my parents, especially when my mom had to work herself half to death to keep us going: there was somewhere I was very welcome to stay, and a nice cooked meal available when Mom got home. The relatives enjoyed spending time with me, I learned a wide variety of things from different people, and there were multiple places to go when people were not getting along at home. The setup was good for everybody involved.
Come to think of it, it is not at all surprising that child abuse rates around home seem to have increased as people have been pushed into nuclear family setups (setting other forced assimilation aside for the moment). Before, hitting children just was not tolerated–AFAICT, nobody in North America thought that using violence against kids was OK.* There are fewer release valves in place now, and you see harried parents smacking their kids. I occasionally got smacked by harried, frustrated relatives who had run out of mental options, but still had not convinced themselves that it was right. You see more of it now than when I was growing up, even. So much better if neither parent nor child were under so much pressure in the first place.
Adopting an adult dog (10 years old, if a young 10) almost a month ago also helped bring the necessity of more support home to me. If taking care of an older dog during the difficult time when he was getting settled in left me absolutely exhausted and functioning poorly from lost sleep, I’d really better not try to take care of a human baby without more help! If I need help to get myself to the doctor and the cats to the vet, a baby would require the same kind of assistance.
This has disappointed me badly, and I have been fighting some depression from the realization. I always thought I’d have the luxury of waiting for a good time to have kids, but that it would eventually happen. Now that’s unlikely.
Perhaps we’ll be able to foster and/or adopt an older child one of these days. I think I could handle that better, and there are certainly a lot who need decent homes.
Edit: I have also been absolutely appalled at the number of medical-type people who have thought that my having kids is a dandy idea. Either they are oblivious, or I am really putting on a better face than I’d have thought. (This is also very possible, learned as a defense!) My current GP diagnosed me with diabetes the first time I saw him, and within five minutes’ time asked me if I was planning to have kids. He did not believe me when I said no, and suggested that I should go ahead and do it soon! I was not in good physical shape at all, after probably 10 years of undiagnosed diabetes, and I had gone to see him because my back had been in spasm for weeks–on top of the chronic pain–in the first place. One physiotherapist I saw for the back, leg, and shoulder pain also suggested that I should have kids soon. She was openly amazed at the pain levels I’d been dealing with on a daily basis–without a pain-free day in years–before seeking help. Not only is it none of their business in the first place, reason would seem to suggest that these health problems will not help a person have a pleasant pregnancy, much less take good care of children!
* Chief Hicks of the Texas Cherokee gave a good summary of older Tsalagi approaches to “domestic violence” (such a hideous euphemism!), in some cultural notes; Barbara Mann offers a lot more information from a related culture in Iroquoian Women. This definitely jibes with my experience. Only the more assimilated think it’s actually OK to hit other adults, much less kids or animals.
No man or woman gave children corporal punishment. The only punishment given was ridicule by the children’s peers and any adult in the town. The anidawehi were the only ones empowered to give any type of physical punishment. Using a fish bone scratcher on them if he broke any religious or tribal laws, or he could be doused with cold water in front of the town’s people.
Additionally, as has been trying to turn into at least one other post for a while now:
A man never raised his hand in anger to a woman for any reason. Death was the only acceptable punishment for a man who physically injured a woman. If a woman hit a man, he was either to stand or flee from the violence. A Tsalagi warrior could kill a woman warrior in combat, but no woman was to be molested or injured after the battle. There is no record in history of a Tsalagi warrior raping a woman. A Tsalagi warrior would kill his own father, brother, uncle or son before he would let him commit such a vile act. . .
No man would physically abuse a woman for any reason. To do so meant his death, either by her brothers or by the men in her clan. Her brothers belonged to her clan. If a woman became angered at her husband or any other man, he was to stand and take the beating without injuring her, only raising his hands in personal defense. If she was stronger or as strong as he, the man had better hope that he could out run her and stay out of her way until she cooled off.
Rape of any woman, in their own tribe or that of an enemy, meant a man’s death. There was no question asked, there was no repsonse given. It would be done.
Behaving abusively would get a person put down like a mad dog, because he was screwed up enough to pose a real danger to other people, and likely to continue dangerous behavior even with counseling. I might add that men who behaved abusively were at least as likely to get killed by the women involved, who certainly had not been brought up to believe that they needed to put up with that kind of crap. Intervention by relatives was mainly necessary when the woman had been very badly injured or killed.