Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This little girl is making me very happy. She's settled into our home well and other than the usual puppy fun (like cleaning up puddles and eating plants) it's all going swimmingly. Having dogs, the cute baby kind and the semi-grown up kind, is great. The companionship, the weird and funny things they do, the relationships you develop with them. Unfortunately, not even a puppy can quell my maternal desire. It's not something I talk to people about a lot, but I've wanted children for a long time. I have been pregnant before, and miscarried, and while children weren't something I obsessed about prior to finding out I would be a mother, once I welcomed the idea into my life it was impossible to let go of. I've looked forward to the day I could have children.
I was so pleased to read the ever-inspiring Blue Milk and her post on maternal desire. I've often been on the receiving end of judgement by admitting to my own biological drive, which I am happy to admit is overwhelmingly biological. It's innate, and I don't think I could turn it off even if I decided that kids didn't suit my lifestyle or other plans became more important. I think the desire would still be there, regardless of my decision that it wasn't going to be part of my life. I'd still fight it or deal with it. For many of my friends and associates, having kids just isn't cool. It's an end to personal freedom, or becoming a 'breeder', or taking the road more ordinary. I agree, in part, with all of those points. But it doesn't add up to enough to make the prospect unattractive enough that I don't want to do it.
Sometimes it seems impossible, as Blue Milk's post captures very well, to explain that maternal desire to people who don't have it. I think that I have a pretty realistic expectation of motherhood and pregnancy (as much as you can without having gone through it). I'm not picturing sunshine and rainbows, I know it's hard work and sacrifice and a lot of sleepless hours. I can see how that's not attractive to plenty of people. But to me, that's all worth the upsides that I see in having a family. Family and children, to me, are essential to the idea of life. We're just a bunch of animals running around with biology and imposed social structures and a soul. We're unique, and exactly the same. We're driven by urges to fit in, or stand out, or find shelter, or form communities. I love human interaction and I love that we all find different meaning in everything around us.
Having a child is participation in one of our most basic purposes, procreation, and I think it's an exciting exploration of our abilities and potential experiences. I don't really buy into the idea that children are our way of living on and creating our own immortality; I don't care if my kids are biologically mine or not, though I would mourn the loss of experiencing pregnancy if that didn't happen. I do think it gives us a chance to redefine a world that we sometimes feel we've pretty much got sorted out by the time we hit our 20s and 30s. It opens up whole new aspects of life, or takes us back to things we've forgotten, and I think that's amazing. I also love the minds of little people, before they are taught how the world works they have a fascinating way of creating or assuming their own meanings and interpretations. That inspires me. Expanding my life to include all those experiences is exciting for me.
But who knows what life holds? Maybe I'll never have children, but I'd be very disappointed if that was the case. Which is why I'm disappointed that we've hit a snag with our foster care application. Long story, involving things I don't want to get into, but essentially the plan is on hold and we don't know how long for. Foster care is a way I can live up to one of the adage I strongly believe in. It takes a village to raise a child. I have a home, and the instinct or desire to mother, and no children. If I can assist someone else to raise theirs, then I see that as completely positive. But alas, it's not to be at the moment. As is having a biological child. But it was nice to have an analytical discussion of that desire, and this aspect of my life, out there in the blogosphere. I've often held back on discussing or describing it, so having it articulated for me (and so well) helped me put mull over my own ideas on the topic.