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Children? Child-Less? Child-Free?

federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky...Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
edited May 2006 in Buddhism Today
There is a huge debate going on in another forum I frequent, on why it seems so taboo for those who have no children, and do not want any, to actually admit it in public.
It's an American forum (I say that by way of elaboration... It's interesting to hear the different 'Mind-sets' because I don't think, in the UK there is precisely the same attitude.)
For my part, I think people should be slowing down...
I think we have to consider the resources or finances available, in the long term, and concede that if people would like children, they should stick with just two.... and those who choose to not have children should not be penalised, taxation wise.... Childless couples are definitely worse off in the UK, and basically, to discuss it on this level, subsidise those who do choose to have children.
Take into account single parents, teenage pregnancies, dysfunctional families, the divorce rate...

Is it such a good idea to have Children? Isn't it just a bit selfish?

I have two daughters. one aged 23 one aged 15.
I was desperate for my second. My hormones were shot to pot, and I needed HRT to get me back in the swing of things, but then I was absolutely desperate for my second child.... I had to have a baby....!

I tried to work to supplement the income, but found that my salary was funding child-care, so why bother? I therefore stayed at home, found a couple of tiny 'peanut-paying' jobs that would fit in with the children. I raised them, clothed them, became the taxi service, chief Nursing officer and Entertainments Director... I spent all their formative years with them, actively participating right up into school level....I was, for many years, Bob's wife, and Pippa's/Caroline's Mum.
(You kind of lose your identity, if you're not careful....)

Now, all these years down the line, neither of my girls communicates with me. They live less than ten miles away, but I never see them, they never speak to me, and inspite of efforts on my part to re-establish a connection of some kind, have nothing to do with me.

You see, I decided to end the marriage.
I am not going to go into reasons here - suffice to say, in a nutshell, there was no marriage.
So I ended it.
I have Nick now. He and I are THE item.

But I am estranged from my daughters.
I would never, in all those years, have believed this could happen given that for all that time, we three were so close.
And yet here we are.

Don't get me wrong. If this isn't a lesson in 'Attachment' I don't know what is... it has been a phenomenal "wake-up" call for me.
I don't regret a bit of it, and I really am more fine about my life than you could ever imagine.
If this is my Life, then karma is at work, and it's up to me to handle it accordingly.
But this much, for my part, have I learnt:


Parenting, to me, is a thankless task.

And when you get folks like Sally Jesse Raphael, Ricky Lake, Oprah Winfrey, Montel Williams (USA) Jeremy Kyle, Trisha Goddard (UK) all revealing huge family issues centering on wayward teenagers.... You do have to stop and ask yourself -
What in "Heaven's" name are we doing - ? Because there but for the grace of God.....!!
«1

Comments

  • edited April 2006
    That's a tough one.

    We haven't had children yet. We have talked about it and it's something we've considered but to be honest at the moment we are both too selfish. We like going on holiday, doing whatever we want when we want and there is no doubt that having a child will affect this.
    Obviously your priorities change when you have a child but the whole idea is terrifying to the both of us.
    However, I would definately like to have children and time is ticking by so if we do want to try it's going to need to be sooner rather than later.

    I don't think it's just us that feel this way either. The majority of our friends don't have children yet, whether this is for the same reasons as us I couldn't say.

    At the moment I'll have to make do with being an uncle and godfather :)
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Fede,

    What a brave and brutally honest post. I very much understand your feelings. I've often thought how thankless a task parenting is and often wondered what all the fuss was about.

    I'm 38 and very happily childless. The only time in my life that I wanted children was when I started to buy into the whole "biological clock" b.s. and thought I had to have them to be a whole woman or even a whole person. I was told that I would wake up some day in deep regret with my child bearing years behind me.

    But deep down I knew I was never going to have children in this life. I used to tell people when I was little and even when I was a teenager that I would never have children and they always said the same thing; "Your feelings will change". Well, they never did.

    I actually feel like I've been keeping a secret my whole life because I've never wanted a career and I've never wanted to get married and have children. I've only ever wanted to live a quiet life of solitude and contemplation with the hope of teaching or helping in some other way as a nun. Of course, I could never admit this because my family and friends would have thought I was nuts. The other problem was that the tradition I was raised in was Catholic and I definitely didn't want to become a Catholic nun.

    So all my life I've been harbouring this secret, holding onto it for dear life and doing my best not to give in to the pressures of society. I'm a progressive thinking, modern woman. I'm a feminist. To become a nun was just too much of a contradiction for some to take and I was even called ungrateful for all the progress made by feminists who had sacrificed so much before me and for me. I remember having a conversation about this when I was in my early twenties with a very rigid feminist. She was aghast that I would dare to turn my back on my sisters and their struggles and actually choose not to have a career and family both. I thought about that conversation for years alternately feeling guilty and angry. But now I know that the struggles of those who came before me were sacrifices made for me so that I could choose.

    So today I'm not only happy I never had children but I'm extremely relieved. I have very strong maternal feelings for all children and I've never, for a moment, regretted my decision. There are millions and millions of children in this world who need a mother's love and wherever and whenever I find them I will give them my love without reserve. I've never had that feeling of needing children of my own. I don't know why, I just never had. And I'm so grateful that I never gave in to the pressures to have them. I remember one of my ex boyfriends telling me that when we got married I could stop working and stay at home to incubate a zygote. I'm laughing my head off right now remembering that one!

    With love and deep respect,
    Brigid
  • edited April 2006
    I agree with Brigid......a good, honest post, Fede. That being said.....I couldn't disagree more about parenting being a thankless job. When my daughter some to me and hugs me and kisses me, telling me that I am her best friend, and telling me how much she loves me, how can that be a thankless job?? She is only three years old, by the way. She has brought more joy, happiness and love to my life and to my husband's life than we had ever imagined. Yes, parenting is HARD work, but to me, it is so worth it. To raise her, and have her grow up to be a wonderful, caring person (God knows we need more of these kinds of people in the world) is the best job I could ever have. And of course, there is no guarantee that she will grow up to be a compassionate, caring person, but I am sure going to try for that. We have given her life and a very happy childhood (so far!) and we plan on continuing to do so. She is the most important thing in our life. I also see how much joy my daughter brings to other people. Heck, we can't even go through the grocery store without someone stopping us just to talk to her and she is just as friendly as can be, and for her to bring a smile to so many people's faces, is just so wonderful. I could go on and on.......

    Frizzer...I think it is WONDERFUL that you realize that you are too "selfish" at this point to have children. Most people don't think about how a child will affect their life, and then they get frustrated with how much time they actually have to give to their child. My brother and sister in law do not have children, nor will they ever have any. Like you, they love to travel and do their own thing, and they are the BEST aunt and uncle to our daughter.

    Federica..it breaks my heart that your daughter's do not talk to you. I know you ar eok with your life, and that is so wonderful, but I can only imagine how difficult that is for you. No matter what we do as a parent, sometimes, we just can't help how they turn out. And your daughters are still young. I remember going through the stage of not really liking my parents when I was a teenager.

    But, I also do not think that people that do not have children should be treated any differently than those that do. As you know, America is a Christian dominated society, and Christians believe that everyone needs to "breed". So, that could be a part of the reason why people without children are treated different. Especailly with our current President.
  • edited April 2006
    I never wanted children. I miscarried many, aborted a couple, gave birth to two...and still don't want children. In my mind, the way I rationalized it to others were all the above. But the truth was, as the oldest of six kids in an extended family I simply did not have the desire/want/need in my heart.

    That being said, Mother Nature is a bitch and fight against it as much as I tried...it seemd that it was my karmic and biological imperative in this life to be a breeding machine.

    Fede: just be a good person and let them know that you have your faults, that you love them, and that you will be there for them when you need them. Your children are still young and need space to grow. I'll bet in a couple of years, say when they are around 25-30, they will come around.
  • edited April 2006
    In some places you are required to pay a certain amount after you have had two or more children. Dawn and I want to have another child as well, however we know and see the human problem and it's effects on the world. We are still on the fence about our choice.
    Mike
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    Yogamama...I hear what you are saying... And I can totally relate, because virtually even right up to the day that I decided to leave, I felt the same way about my girls.
    My point is that nothing is predictable, neither does it necessarily pan out as you ever hoped, thought, wished or expected. I truly, from the bottom of my heart, wish you the same throughout your life as you're experiencing now.

    harlan, thank you for your sentiments... I feel the same. I think, given time, that things will mellow and settle down. I just know it will never ever be the same again.

    There again, why should it be....?

    Good discussion.
  • edited April 2006
    federica wrote:
    I truly, from the bottom of my heart, wish you the same throughout your life as you're experiencing now.


    Thank you. :) And you are right...life is so unpredictable. Having a child teaches you that lesson for sure!
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    In some places you are required to pay a certain amount after you have had two or more children. Dawn and I want to have another child as well, however we know and see the human problem and it's effects on the world. We are still on the fence about our choice.
    Mike

    The methods are at times, barbaric.... their logic (in emphasising the dominant importance of the male child) wildly misguided to say the least... so I do not condone the way China has operated - but I believe, in time, all major Governments (and many minor ones too!) are going to have to address the growth of the population in one way or another - and mindful of the "pleasing everybody all of the time"' adage, doubtless this will cause outcry and uproar, for many will view it as having their civil liberties and natural human rights infringed....
    It's also worthwhile remembering (Adrian) that while the male is capable of fertilisation into very advanced age, females have a specific time period in which they can safely conceive....
    Although this is by no means guaranteed at any time, and admittedly, with the advances in general health, medical care and environmental sanitation, this window is lengthening....
    And sometimes, the hormones take over and rationality is apt to fly out the window, if heart and hormones win over head and logic.....
  • edited April 2006
    at one point...i never had kids and had an opinion
    now i have kids .. i have another opinion

    this goes out to fede...
    impermanance my friend.. your relationship with the girls
    could change tomorrow, or maybe in 5 years.. who knows!
    ALL IS IN ORDER..

    my babies,now teenagers have shaped me, helped me grow..
    daily i learn from them.. among other things

    kids are wunderful!
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    Thanks Colleen, but I never intended for this thread to focus on me....
    My point, using my own personal example, was to illustrate two things:

    One: that no matter how good our intentions, things don't always turn out as idealised, and

    Two: it simply begged the question that, given the general state of this world, how over-populated some places are, and how (inspite of every good intention) family life is not always what it's cracked up to be, is having children nowadays, wise, foolish or just plain selfish....?

    If yes, to any, Why?
    If no to any, Why?


    (Quietly bearing in mind of course that, but for our parents' decision, WE wouldn't be here.......!)
  • edited April 2006
    I have two children, age 37 and 33, both female. They are the source of some of the best and most difficult times of my life and they are as different from each other as midnight is from noon without a cloud in the sky. I have had a very close relationship with my younger daughter her entire life. I have had a varying amount of closeness with older one until she reached her late 20's and now it is close, but not "as close" as the other. As I recall mid teens to early 20's was a rocky time with both for various reasons and amounts of time. We have had many discussions over the years about raising children in general, them specifically and all of our individual views on the same event. A very striking exercise to go through with your young adult/adult children! I'm not sure I'd want to do it with my mother!! One of the things I recall clearly when I was pregnant with my first daughter, was the strong feeling that this child wasn't "mine", it was someone that I would have the chance to influence for a very short time and then they would go their way. My oldest daughter is and has been very clear that she does not want any children. She feels taking care of herself, pets and friends is all the caretaking she can do and doesn't want the responsibility of a child. The younger one is a 6th grade teacher in NYC and has wanted to raise a child since college. She has always considered the possibility of adopting instead of birthing and would probably go for a 4 - 6 year old. She hasn't found the person she wants to spend her life with yet, so that seems like the path she take when she is ready. (I've already pointed out to her that it would also eliminate the middle of the feedings and diapers. :thumbsup: ) One of the questions that they and others have asked me is some variation on ... "But don't you want to a Gram ma?" OF COURSE I DO!! But that is not my decision, it's my daughter's. And I've told them that. The only reason to "have" a child, birth OR adopt is because you feel you have the ability, ambition and resources to give another person a good start in life. So, you aked for my view and there it is.

    with compassion and respect,
    Emma
  • questZENerquestZENer Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Fed--

    This is a fascinating topic. My belle and I are about to get hitched in June. We have talked about children. She is leaning towards 'no', I am leaning towards 'yes' but not strongly. My partner studies family communication. She uses video recordings of everyday familes to look at patterns of communication within those familes. It's a large project, a corpus of about 50-75 hours of video per family taken across a few weeks time. The skinny of it is: after looking at how hassled familes lives are, although she was already leaning towards 'no', this has nearly put her off the idea entirely.

    It's interesting that Fed brings up the 'selfish' motive. I think, by in large, may people in the US would claim that NOT having children is selfish. It's the default. As soon as people hear we're getting hitched, after asking about the date, they ask when we're going to expand the population. When we say we may not, there's something threatening about it. My partner's friends who are popping out babies left and right seem to be exerting pressure on her to do the same.

    There seems to be an ideology of womanhood that--not so subtly--'requires' and suggests that if a woman doesn't have children, they're not 'real women'. It's really quite insidious.

    Like others have expressed on this thread, we like our time. We're both academics. We both have so much to do that we're already selfish with our own time. So many parents--but women in particula--seem to become isolated after having children. Adult activities cease in favor of rushing around--to soccer, to dance, to piano, to tutoring, to school.

    I don't know what the answer is. I can see myself not having children. I can see enjoying a rich full life without.

    Just like every other aspect of practice: we engage in practice not for the end result, but in order to live our lives. Children are another way to realize our practice. Child-free/less is also a way to realize our practice.

    Not a very coherent post, but some thoughts, anyway.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    questZENer wrote:
    Fed--
    As soon as people hear we're getting hitched, after asking about the date, they ask when we're going to expand the population. When we say we may not, there's something threatening about it.

    Aren't people odd....?
    It was during my wedding reception that I was asked if we were going to have children.... i replied
    "Well, let me get out of this dress first!"

    And it was whilst in hospital, having just delivered my first, that a friend visiting, asked if I was going to have any more.....!

    I still fail to understand the urgency in either case....!!

    I haven't come across this 'threatening' stuff.. from what I can gather, from 'speaking' to people on forums, this insistence on bearing children and raising a family - and the suspiscion or opinion that there is something seriously wrong with you if you don't - is quite strong in the USA. I can honestly say I've never encountered this either in France, or the UK....
  • edited April 2006
    Dear all,
    I have been married twice, and have had both my ex's run off with my best friends. I thank my luckly "whatever" that I never had children with these two:cheer: as I think of the damage that could have been caused.
    After my marriages were over I became a monk, though I left off two years ago i hope to return one day?

    P.S. Be nice to your kids, for they choose the home you go to!!!! Otherwise Euthanasia is always their option??????

    esau
  • PadawanPadawan Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Marriage-wise, this is my second time around; and I have a son and daughter from my first marriage, both adults. Neither my second wife nor myself feel the need to have children this time around; my wife has never really wanted children (And she's glad that I already had two) and, to be brutally honest, I don't really think I'd have the patience to bring any more children into the world. I still get a few quizzical looks from folks when I say that we won't be having children- the usual "So why bother getting married then?" is the most frequent and hurtful response. When I see how many of these marriages falter because those couples fail to appreciate the dynamic of what happens to a relationship when children are brought into it, I thank my lucky stars that this marriage won't suffer like that- and has every chance of succeeding where the first one did not.

    Instead, we've decided to devote our marital home to looking after my wifes' parents- something I was regrettably unable to do for mine at the time they needed it (I won't go into that- suffice to say it was very unfortunate, and something I regret.) and I must confess that we've never been happier. Our usual response now to the 'when are you having children' brigade is: "That's sooo 20th century. We're having parents!!"
  • edited April 2006
    Padawan wrote:
    ... and, to be brutally honest, I don't really think I'd have the patience to bring any more children into the world.


    Instead, we've decided to devote our marital home to looking after my wifes' parents- ...

    Our usual response now to the 'when are you having children' brigade is: "That's sooo 20th century. We're having parents!!"


    Oh, thanks for bringing that up. I know several people who are in their late 30s/early 40s who decided it would be great to have children now. They are having a tough time with the sleep deprivation/no time for self/energy level difference/chaos, that children bring with them.

    How wonderful that you are doing that for your wife's parents. My partner and I have had my grandmother living with us for the past year. She is very happy and greatful to be here - not the nursing home her son had put her in. (She was only there a week before I finally convinced him that we could take care of her just fine.) And believe me, from my perspective having Gram at home, is as gratifying for me as raising my kids.

    I LOVE your answer to the kids question!:bigclap:

    Emma
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Me too, Emma!! What a hilarious and beautiful response! And congratulations on your decision to live with your Gram! That's just wonderful!

    Padawan, that's totally great. I came home to take care of my parents and it's the best decision I ever made. I'm so glad you're getting that chance with your other parents. It's wonderful and I'm so happy for you! I'm going to use your line if it ever comes up even though they're taking care of me since I got injured. But I give them moral and financial support and keep them from being too lonely. LOL! We're a happy little family.

    Love,
    Brigid
  • questZENerquestZENer Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Interesting how this tread is morphing from 'children' to 'caretaking'--from little ones to older ones.

    My mom takes care of her mom, my grand. She's been living with my mom for nearly 3 years now after a spill/accident. While she is a mature woman (nearly 92 now), my mom does comment--and not jokingly--about how my grand can be childish.

    Granted, they've had a turbulent relationship throughout my mom's life, but caring for an elder is also total responsibility, just like a child. It's no easy task. I know my mom gets really worn out as a result of that responsibility--cooking, cleaning, & shopping is a full time job. She owns her own retail business, too, which might as well count for 2 additional jobs.

    At the end of the day, after talking up customers all day long (it's a high-end dress shop), my mom comes home to a sometimes fuming, confused, angry grand. Other times she's in tears, frustrated with her life.

    My grand often tells me she's "ready for the glue factory"; that "she's lived too long"; that "she's ready to go but she's too healthy to die". Many days, world-weary is the exact term that I'm reminded of--after 92 years walking the earth, she often feels ready to die.

    My mom also really gets frustrated with my grand. She tells the same stories over and over. She doesn't wash her hands after using the toilet. She can't remember what happened earlier in the day, her sense of time begins 60 years ago besides the fleeting moments of clarity where she knows where she is an when is now.

    This is a level of the kind of intense care that children require but on the other end of the life cycle.

    I've tried to educate my mom a little about mindfulness, a little about meditation. She's interested but doesn't see how it's relevant to her. It seems a little exotic. I've also tried to gently ask my grand about if she prays and how she feels about death, but she brushes it off. Ideally, I could somehow help educate both about the importance of (Buddhist) practice--Buddhist put into parens because our practice is not exclusive to us, it's universal but wonderfully expressed by Buddha--but as yet, I haven't found a way that resonates.

    I (desperately!) want to find a way to help my mom connect with the role she's taken on as a positive experience rather than as a burden, but I'm not sure how. Suggestions? Any other reflections by those who care for elder relatives?
  • XraymanXrayman Veteran
    edited April 2006
    It's interesting to note, that the people here that seem the most "Emotionally intelligent" to the facts of child raising etc. would Probably make the best Mothers/Fathers/Parents!

    I often use a similar arguement when discussing the evils of Credit Cards it seems that the people who don't consider the "big picture " of credit card debt, are the ones that fall for the credit card!. The people who most understand the risks (like me) don't use credit cards!-however, we would most likely be able to control our spending-for us, it's just way too risky.
    Unfortunately sometimes those that misunderstand the real issues of being parents, have children!

    NOTE: we have mostly been asked "When are you having the next one?"-by people who screwed it up by having their children too close together, a kind of way to make us end up making the same mistake! Our daughter is seven years older than our son, because there was a plan.

    regards,
    Xrayman
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I (desperately!) want to find a way to help my mom connect with the role she's taken on as a positive experience rather than as a burden, but I'm not sure how. Suggestions? Any other reflections by those who care for elder relatives?

    Hi, Quest. Now there's a question and a half.

    When I came to help my parents, I left my friends and my job to come here to live on a farm in the middle of nowhere. But when my mother asked for my help there was no question; I was honoured to be called. I'm the youngest of five children so being called meant the world to me. As I said, I'm unmarried and childless but my three other siblings have families and my oldest sister who was unmarried and childless as well could never do the job. She loves my parents but her agenda is about her. My parents exist largely in relation to her existence, so she never would have been able to do it. She couldn't visit my father when he was in the hospital because it made her too uncomfortable. So care giving was completely out of the question even though she lives 20 minutes away from my parents and I lived 6 hours away.

    The difference between us was just about attitude and perspective. My sister thinks my parents would be too difficult to handle, as does the rest of the family. I never thought about it like that. I'm the baby of the family and "handling" anyone wasn't in my mind at all. I came to help, just like they came to help me through the years and at a moment's notice. There's nothing they wouldn't have done for me, no matter how difficult they can be at times. It was a natural way to say thank you that I would be there for them and there was nothing more important in my life than that.

    I know my siblings thought I was crazy as did a lot of my friends but it was a no brainer to me. I never struggled with the decision and I didn't have to force myself to do it. So I wasn't doing anything difficult in any way. I was really happy to come home and be with them. They drive me nuts but they're my parents, that's their job. LOL! It was easy for me.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't really know how you can help your mom connect with the role positively. She runs a retail business and that's probably a priority because she has people depending on her there as well and there's far too much on her plate. It's about attitude, priorities and perspective. If she didn't go into this with a full hearted attitude which is clear by her priorities her perspective will be ones of anger, resentment and a feeling of overwhelming burden. Add to that the difficulties she had with her mother growing up and I would bet that your mother is probably a very, very stressed out person. My heart goes out to her. And it goes out to your grandmother as well, because I'm sure she picks up on her daughter's resentment.

    On the other hand, your mother's response to mindfulness meditation is a good one. I'm reading "Full Catastrophe Living" by Jon Kabat-Zin at the moment. It's a book based on the practice of mindful meditation, yoga and other practices at a stress clinic that has been extremely successful in treating people ranging from cancer and Aids/HIV patients to chronic pain sufferers to people who suffer from panic attacks and all other stress related disorders. He says that the most successful patients come in with the same attitude as your mother; interested skepticism. I'm on chapter three and the word Buddhism has come up only once. This is more of a Western medical Buddhism founded by a man with a deep understanding of Buddhist practice, particularly meditation. I know you already have a lot to read but this book may give you some tools to work with when you're trying to help your mother cope with her situation. If you could get her to read it and commit to the 8 week program she can do at home, that would be even better. It involves, among other things, a commitment to sit for 45 minutes every day, 6 days a week. He takes you through mindfulness meditation in great detail and it's faithful to Buddhist meditation but understandable to Western non-Buddhists. I really recommend this, Quest. It could change her perspective and the way she sees her life.

    Brigid

    P.S. I think you're a wonderful son and grandson.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    Now there's an issue....
    if people decide to NOT have children, upon whom will they rely, in their old age, to lend a helping hand?

    I don't know of any other member of the animal kingdom that cares for its aged in this way.... So it's a humanitarian thing.....In which case.....

    Should we expect our children to do that?
    Don't the children have a right to sever ties, and not take on that reponsibility?

    And why, even with a mix of children, does it often (though not always) fall to the daughters to care for the elderly parents?

    (I must say, this conversation is far more civilised and polite than the other one I referred to in post #1.... I would suggest that the reason for this, is that the other thread in question has largely been taken over by the Religious proselytising faction....)

    Well done everyone... great thread.... keeep 'em coming....!!
  • edited April 2006
    Out of interest, Kabat-Zinn, together with his wife, wrote, "Everyday Blessings" a book which guides parents in 'mindful parenting'. I've not read it but it seems along similar lines - translating buddhism into something practical for non-buddhist westerners.

    We have two children and we DID have them close together (You're so right Xray, that is the BIGGEST mistake! They are 6 and 5 years old AND a boy and a girl! :nonono: ) Neither of us had planned for lives with children - especially me - I was adamant I was never having any! The decision to have children was driven entirely by emotion.

    Not that I have any regrets - they're the most beautiful things! Yes, they're demanding, they're time-consuming, & they're expensive. On the other hand, they're wonderful and teach you new things every day and help you keep things in perspective! They give you hope for the world when they ask out of the blue if they can empty their piggy banks and send the money to the poor children in Africa that they just saw on the news, starving. I have to say, it's an honour to be their parents .........most of the time :lol:

    hmmm in fact right at this moment they're squabbling :lol: Now, where can I get my hands on that Kabat-Zinn book........................

    Sas :buck:
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
  • edited April 2006
    LOL Thanks! I'm already there :lol:

    Sas

    PS If anyone would like to hire a mindfulness testing tool, we can lend you our 5 year old daughter! .... please? :lol:
  • edited April 2006
    questZENer wrote:
    I (desperately!) want to find a way to help my mom connect with the role she's taken on as a positive experience rather than as a burden, but I'm not sure how. Suggestions? Any other reflections by those who care for elder relatives?


    A question and a half is right!

    Brigid, what a great thing you are doing for your parents and how selfless to pick up and move.:bigclap:

    MrsKarmadillo, my mantra through difficult kids phases was "this too shall pass", and my brother has three girls ages 21, 20 and 19 (!) They wouldn't want it any other way, they love being close in age.

    questZener, helping your mother to see the value of what she is doing is a wonderful thing to do! But, I think that unless your mother is ready to *embrace* the role she won't be able to find the positiveness of it. (Sorry that sounds really, smaltzy but thats how I feel :-/ ) Some ideas off the top of my head are: Make sure she has time for herself (Really for herself, not just quite time to work on something) and see if there is a support group for caregivers in her area.

    It has been a little more than year since we moved my grandmother in to our home. I didn't have to move or leave friends behind but it feels like that sometimes because it can be very isolating. I did have to quit my job as Gram needs 24/7 supervision. Most times she can't remember from one moment to the next. But, although she doesn't always know WHO I am, she knows that I am someone she likes/loves and vice-versa. Each day is "new" experience for her. Everyday I "teach" her how to brush her teeth, wash, and get dressed. Each time we go for a ride, play with the dog or pat the cat is a wonderful experience the likes of which she can't ever remember having. I finally decided that I could learn alot about "being in the moment" and slowing down the constant inner dialog of "shoulds" taking care of Gram. Since then it has helped me to be content with my "new identity" as Gram's caretaker. Even though our day to day life is a cross between raising a two year old and the movie Groundhog Day.

    Emma
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Emma,

    What a beautiful post! I found it inspiring. Thank you so much.

    Brigid
  • edited April 2006
    I was just reading some discussion on this topic the other day...

    I'm married to the most fantastic guy alive, and we don't have kids and at this point don't want any. We both love kids, though. I have a sister who is 16 years younger than I am, and she's the greatest, and I love hanging out with my friends' kids. I guess we kind of act like big kids, so the little ones adore us.

    We've decided to remove the whole biological pressure thing by agreeing that if we ever decide that the time is right, we'll adopt. Even if physically we can still do it on our own, we want to adopt. And that's that. My MIL wasn't fond of the idea, but she's the only one in the family who wants my husband and me to reproduce, so she's gotten over it.

    As far as the whole caretaking thing goes, I think (hope) I have another twenty years or so before that becomes an issue.
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited April 2006
    Hello Ratty, and welcome to the forum. Thanks for jumping right in and posting, nice to have you aboard...!

    Sorry..... I see 'Ratty' and I think 'Mole', 'Badger' and of course, 'Toad'.....Poop Poop....! :ukflag:
  • edited April 2006
    federica wrote:
    Hello Ratty, and welcome to the forum. Thanks for jumping right in and posting, nice to have you aboard...!

    Sorry..... I see 'Ratty' and I think 'Mole', 'Badger' and of course, 'Toad'.....Poop Poop....! :ukflag:

    Thanks, it's nice to be here. And wow, I haven't read Wind in the Willows since I was a kid, and now I really have the urge! :)
  • PalzangPalzang Veteran
    edited April 2006
    The whole question of having kids, not having kids - it's really just all phenomena, just like everything else in samsara. Your relationship with your children, if you do elect to have them, is just karma. So you look for the teaching in it all. There always is a teaching. You just have to listen for it, like Milarepa. As for the question of whether or not to have children, well, one thing to keep in mind is that bodhisattvas have to be born in order to help us ignorant sentient beings. Who's to say your child wouldn't be one?

    Palzang
  • edited April 2006
    Great post, Palzang. My daughter has taught me so many things already, and she is only three years old. Just last night at dinnertime, she says "Mom...I saw a bee in the house. But don't kill it!!!". She knows I don't kill anything (including bugs, spiders, etc), but it was just cute to hear her say that. Everyday is a new lesson learned from her!
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited April 2006
    My girlfriend, who loves "Finding Nemo" has adopted a moth in the house. I believe it's been with us all winter - if that's even possible.

    His name's Squishy (ala I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine)

    We're losers.

    We have a moth for a pet.

    -bf
  • edited April 2006
    We have a common housespider as a pet. His name is "Dave" and he often pops out to watch tv with the kids. (Don't tell anyone, but I think there's prolly at least 15 "Daves" but the kids believe he's one :))

    Sas:buck:
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited April 2006
    That's what I'm afraid of.

    Cuz I vacuumed up one Squishy.
    Another Squishy was found dried up behind the coffee pot.
    Now another Squishy is flying around (Squishy was actually sitting on her butt while she was putting on makeup this morning)

    I'm afraid I'm going to take out a sweater sometime and it's going to be hole-ridden.

    -bf
  • edited April 2006
    LOL! I love that part of "Finding Nemo". We also had a pet ladybug, but I found her dried up on the floor the other day. And last night, a spider crawled across the floor, so we carried him out to the garden. We had a pet crawfish for a while (my husband rescued him from a bait shop - LOL), but we decided to release him into a river after keeping him and feeding him for a few days.
  • edited April 2006
    LOL bf.... the world needs moths but we could live without clothes - the world would just be a generally scarier place (speaking about myself, of course!) :lol:

    We have to bury our hamster this afternoon :( We've been busy all day, formulating answers (or leading questions!) to the inevitable "has he gone to heaven?" question!
  • edited April 2006
    I've always wanted kids, not necessarily my own but I've always loved kids, loved being around them, loved taking care of them, talking to them, showing them things, spending time with them. Kids tend to like me too so that works out :P

    I'm not enough of an adult yet to be able to have children of my own, biological or otherwise, but I do hope I'll be able to work with kids one way or another sooner or later.
  • SabineSabine Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Oh, nooooo, no kids for Sara. I don't even want to get married - I hope to get a job in International Business, which can require a LOT of traveling, so I want to be able to throw my stuff in a box and just go. A husband and/or a child would slow me down way too much...
    Besides, after I retire, I'd like to join a convent for my remaining years, and I would feel so guilty if I left behind a family :-/
  • XraymanXrayman Veteran
    edited April 2006
    I wonder if the concept of Impermanence will strike here? i.e. Will you feel like this in two-three years time??

    regards,
    Xrayman.
  • SabineSabine Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Hmmmm.
    Good point.
    :-/ I've always felt this way, though....but like someone said before, it could all change in an instant.
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    Wow, Sabine! University of Georgia! Lots and lots of opportunities there. Nice choice for your college. They have a Public Service and Outreach Office that looks amazing, too! I'm crossing my fingers for you. But even if you don't get in I'm pretty sure you'll find a school just as good with all sorts of opportunities for you. You're a pretty high achiever, if I'm not mistaken, and the world is your oyster, ma chere.

    I'm so excited for you! I remember when I was going off to university. What an amazing time in my life. I learned so much. You're going to have an incredible time! Please keep us posted about what happens. This is selfish, I know, but I'd love to relive my college days vicariously through you. LOL! They went by so fast that I can hardly believe they're over.

    I know you'll probably be checking out all sorts of programs that offer overseas study and exchange student possibilities and you can take it from me that going overseas for a year during college as an exchange student is one of the very best things you can do, and not just because you want to go into international business. It's an all around education and it changed my life forever. It was also a complete blast because you know you only have a limited time there so you tend to make as much as you can out of it.

    Oh, this is so exciting!!

    Good luck, Sara!

    Brigid
  • edited April 2006
    Sabine...best of luck to you for getting into the University of Georgia. Please keep us posted. You are an incredibly smart, young person and I wish you the best.

    And at one point in my life (right when I was about your age), I said the same things you are saying. And then I met my husband, and my maternal instinct kicked in immediately (I was pregnant one month after we got married!). So... you might change your mind, but if not, that's great too. I think it is so wonderful to hear about the goals you have set for yourself.
  • edited April 2006
    Now that I have worked for about 10 years and have lived on my own, I feel my 'selfish' stage is ending. Baby Blue Eyes and I have discussed a future and children are definitely in it....NOT because of social pressures or expectations, but because we have a wonderful life together and wold like to share the joys (and tribulations) of parenting. We have discussed the possibility of: What if we can't? Adoption is our plan. I've always been turned off by the "professional white couple seeking white newborn" ads....we agree that we'd adpot a few (if possible) and even older children....
  • edited April 2006
    sabine!!!!!!!!!!

    i think i will follow your plan for my next life..

    thanx!!!
  • edited April 2006
    Fredrica, I am blown away by your honesty and ability to rise above. I was an awful child to my parents. From age 13-23 I disconnected and fought tooth and nail to define myself as an individual free from there expectations. They were weak and did not fight for me. I regret alot of my choices now and wish my parents would have tried harder to keep me part of thier world. Please dont let your girls feal the same towards you when they are older.

    That being said I talk to my mom everyday now and she is sooo much more a part of my life. How you ask? because I became a mom and see her in a new light. I am her now : )
  • buddhafootbuddhafoot Veteran
    edited April 2006
    It's funny, how as children, we think we're the only one (throughout all of time) to go through the, relatively few experiences, a "life" can afford.

    But, I guess that's just the way it's got to be. Sometimes, the only teacher we can accept is ourselves and living with our actions.

    My uncle used to say, "Why is youth wasted on the young?"
    I used to say, "Why is wisdom wasted on the old?"

    He never liked that.

    -bf
  • BrigidBrigid Veteran
    edited April 2006
    My uncle used to say, "Why is youth wasted on the young?"
    I used to say, "Why is wisdom wasted on the old?"

    BF,

    That's hilarious!! I'm LMAO!!

    Brigid
  • SabineSabine Veteran
    edited May 2006
    Thanks for the well wishing everyone - even though it's a little early :D I'm still just a wee likkle junior. However, your support will definitely come in handy when I actually DO start applying in October :D

    Colleen, what do you mean by that? :)
  • edited May 2006
    was just joking..
    sounds like your life is all in order.. i envy you.. well sort of if you no what i mean
  • SabineSabine Veteran
    edited May 2006
    colleen wrote:
    was just joking..
    sounds like your life is all in order.. i envy you.. well sort of if you no what i mean
    No, it's not. Other than my trip to France, this last summer, it's been a pretty bad year for me. (emotionally, etc.)
    BUUUUT I'm trying to get past that, and thinking ahead to the future helps.
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