Wednesday, March 14, 2007

what to do?

Do you feel as if you have a purpose in life? Have you accomplished that purpose or are you working toward it? Are you adrift, conflicted?

I've been thinking about the purpose of a life after attending the two year old grandson's birthday celebration. The older stepdaughter's house was filled with children and their parents. It was lovely. He is a very fortunate baby to have the parents he has. The other two grandsons were there as well, witnessing the vast affluence of their cousin and his great good fortune in having not only two parents, but parents who care, who are present, who put him first, love him madly, who interact with him. The two older boys are not so fortunate, not even close. Their deprived lives are constantly in my thoughts. What to do?

I don't know what to do. I'm not a mother, never wanted to be. I have great respect for moms, I admire that kind of strength, devotion, selflessness. I never, ever, not once wanted to have a child. When I tried to get tied off at 18, the doctor squeezed my knee and said "don't worry, honey, you'll meet someone and he'll change your mind." Bastard.

But back to it: I just don't want kids. I worked with kids for years, I love them in small doses. I adore being around them, especially when they go home with someone else. I am not wired for children. But I love these two boys, so the battle becomes this: do I do what's right for these children? or do I continue to do what's right for me?

We had custody of them for a month a few years ago, then gained guardianship when they were allowed to return home. They have the most marginal of lives, but there is no abuse. The younger stepdaughter is plagued by financial insecurity, primarily due to the fact that she just doesn't want to work. Worse, though, is the emotional neglect and abandonment and that is what troubles me. These sweet little boys are bringing themselves up in a home with a mother who can think only of her own needs, who just wants them to go away and be quiet.

Take them back? I can hardly bear the thought and it's nothing to do with them, these babies. I just can't bear the thought of having the responsibility of two little lives, every day, all day. I nearly lost my mind that month we had them. I was working full time, running my business full time, taking them to school, picking up at daycare, ensuring they're fed, cared for, homework done, attending to them as they should be attended to. I see what they need, I know what they need, but I don't think I am the person to provide it.

Therein lies my guilt and shame. There is no one else. The other grandmother is toxic, drug addicted, useless. The aunt has her precious two-year-old and another on the way. Who else can do this? Who can give these deserving children what they should have, what they need? I think about it and all I can do is cry because I ache for them and I am not willing to give up my life. I should; people do it all the time, but I just can't. What to do? This is such a struggle for me.

23 Comments:

Anonymous tater said...

Oh Lynette,
What a catch 22 you've got for yourself. You have probably already made the decision, but are having difficulty accepting it. Some meetings sound like a necessary tonic for you about now, not that I would ever presume to take your inventory.

I don't know what to say, except that I have never met you, and I see the love and goodness seeping out of your every pore. If anyone on this planet was equipped to be an awesome gaurdian/role model honey, it is you. To raise someone else's children is a very tall order, even for someone as overqualified as you. From the hints you have provided about your own situation growing up, I can see the reason you are hesitant to take on this responsibility. I respect you to the nth degree, and whatever choice you make, I'm sure it will be a wise one. If you are looking for reassurence on your capabilities for parenting, the list of pros is simply staggering. You are much loved and respected, and the difficult choice you must make will be as well. Can't say what I would do given the same circumstances, and would never presume to coach you one way or another. Like I said, much love and respect, and I am sorry for your difficult situation...

March 14, 2007 12:44 PM  
Blogger Debra said...

Oh, Lynette, how awful. You sound like you have really thought this problem through, and, like Tater, I believe you will make your best decision. The only thing I can add to the process is to think about this: how will you feel about yourself if you do; how will you feel about yourself if you don't? I'm so sorry that either choice will result in loss and regret. That's a truly crappy situation to be in, but somewhere under the emotionality of the choice is a decision that best lines up with your authentic values. I believe you will find it.

March 14, 2007 12:54 PM  
Blogger Beula said...

Oh Honey, Of course you know what they are going through. Know it in your very cells. You have been there. Me to. Why do you think your heart is breaking? This post has me bawling all over my deyboard.

I did not want kids either. I also felt/fell guilty. But you can't give away what you didn't have. It may take me a lifetime to learn to accept God's love for me. It has been a long bumpy road to accept Husband's love. I would parent like I was parented. By God's grace I am healed, but I am scarred. When I am with little abandonded kids or animals I immediately identify with them. They do not need another messed up kid, they need a stable grown-up.

Pray for them, give them gifts and time. See them, cherish them, love them, but do not parent them. I lived with people who were kind to me but did not want me around on a daily basis for most of my childhood. I think I was better off with fruitcake mother than with aunts and in foster homes.

Parental love is not the love you were meant to give the sweet little boys. You are their aunt. I think you were meant to be their refuge in times of storm, not their constant harbor. Why do children have to suffer? Only God knows. Has been the making of me. And you. Take care of yourself. Love Bea

P.S. Where is the spell checker?

March 14, 2007 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Big Fella said...

Listen to beula, the Mrs. and I have also been there. There is only so much you can do and still retain your own piece of mind.

Email or call me if you want to chat about this.

March 14, 2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Tater said...

No offense to anyone posting previously, but I think it is your decision alone, to make. Only you know the right answer for you.

love and peace!
Tater

March 14, 2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Lynn@mymixedcompany.com said...

Lynette you aren't the only one who can take these kids. And I think you have the proper connections to get them placed, no? Perhaps your years of social work can help them. Maybe having a maternal instinct is not one of your true strengths (I don't think it is mine either) but you have many many gifts that can help these children and perhaps tapping into your true strengths is what you need to do for them now. I think you are limiting your options here, open your heart up and let other people help you to help those kids. XO

March 14, 2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Tater said...

I agree Lynn. Your talents will help these kids in one way or another, whatever your decision. You are an incredible person, and your influence will help these kids, even if that influence doesn't happen to be maternal.

March 14, 2007 4:17 PM  
Blogger a.m. said...

While this is a decision that only you can make, there is a middle ground between giving up your life entirely to them and allowing them to live without their needs being met. As someone said earlier, be the aunt or whatever relationship there is there.

It may not be enough, but enough is rarely to be had for any of us even when we deserve it. And usually none of us have what it takes on our own to be enough for anyone in any event.

BTW, I'm from the fitroll and usually just lurk even though I read regularly.

March 14, 2007 4:58 PM  
Blogger evilganome said...

Lynette, my heart goes out to you. I know you will make the best decision. I was faced with a similar choice 17 years ago, and my daughter moved in with me. It is not a job I would recommend to anyone. The big difference here is that she is my kid and she was my responsibility. I was also much younger. I really think that does make a big difference.

I was raised by a woman that was not dispositionally suited to raise kids. If this is something that you really think is not a task, and yes it is a task, that you are not suited to, then you probably shouldn't do it. You won't be doing yourself or the kids a favor.

I did my best with my own kid. I feel to this day I did a lousy job. My daughter disagrees, but what does she know. We worked it out, but like I said this was a job that really was my responsibility.

What ever you do Lynette, I know you will do the right thing. I feel for you, since there doesn't really seem as though there is a good choice. I will be thinking about you, and whatever you decide, I know it will be the right thing to do.

March 14, 2007 5:06 PM  
Blogger hughman said...

first time commenter here...

any choice you make will be right. you will go on, the kids will go on - all of us in the way we were meant to be.

if you take on the kids, will it only be because you are a moral and right person? in the coming years, will you resent them for having to care for them?

if you don't take them, will you blame yourself? after all, you weren't the one who initiated the circumstances of their birth to begin with.

i agree in that there must be a middle ground. it's sometimes hard not to take on other's problems as your own.

best to you and your choice.

March 14, 2007 6:40 PM  
Blogger Misty said...

This is my first time to post. I have to say you "fat fighters" are a fun bunch. I have recently joined and have been reading many of your blogs.

I wish the answer to your question was easy to answer. As a mother of 2 I know everything you stated is true, it is a huge sacrifice to raise kids. Your heart goes out for those kids, but your logic is telling you to slow down and think. My aunt recently took in her 17, almost 18 year old daughter. She gave my cousin to her dad to raise when she was 7! She did the visiting thing, and my aunt fell right into the "fun parent" roll very well. Now it has been nearly 11 years, that is a long time. And my cousin is not taking well to her mom suddenly being a parent.

My husband and I considered taking her in and helping her finish school, but taking on a teenager is not easy for anyone. They are working it out, it has not been easy for them.

Really the decision is up to you and what fits your lifestyle. I hope you are able to work it out...if you choose not to take them in it is not bad, just considering the task means you are a bigger person then you think.

March 14, 2007 7:56 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

what a bunch of wise people. thanks for all of your kind words and for your very thought provoking comments. it means a lot to me. i'm going to consider all that you've said and the other thoughts and feelings that have come to the surface as a result of writing this. i'll keep you posted. bless you all.

March 14, 2007 9:17 PM  
Blogger Red7Eric said...

If it's not too late to add my voice, I'd just like to echo some of what others have said.

You'll do what's right. If you do take those kids, you'll be terrific. If you decide not to, you'll be taking care of you -- and you can't take care of anyone else if you can't take care of you first.

Either way, you wouldn't ever abandon those boys, and your presence in their lives will be a gift they'll be thankful for; that much I know.

March 14, 2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger Cindy174 said...

For a few years my grandson lived in a really bad environment with his mother. I would take him on the weekends and feel horrible about taking him home. At the time I did not believe I had the resources to take on another child, plus, I did not feel confident that a court would give him to me. Then something happened and he ended up with his other grandmother. Although she was a daily drinking alcoholic, she cared for him well in some respects. It still was not the best situation and I had concerns about things, but I took him on weekends, trips, vacations and tried to help out as much as I could. I had my youngest to raise on my own and could not imagine trying to raise them both. Then I moved into a little bigger of a house and my job started paying better. I also had some much needed therapy for a year or so. Then, suddenly his other grandma died, in January as a matter of fact, and here he is. And here we are, the three of us a family. It all seems natural, challenging at times but natural. You will know if and when the time comes for the boys to live with you. And, if it happens, you will be able to do it. We never know what is in store for us. Some things we cannot plan. Some things we can. You can enrich their lives in many many ways without living with them or taking responsibility for them. You can be a very positive part of their world and I am sure you already are. I think I know how you feel. But you most likely do things already, and your compassion for them and love for them will express itself in many good ways.

March 14, 2007 9:22 PM  
Blogger Cindy174 said...

I forgot to mention, there is a lot of stress sometimes and there are times when I feel I have more than I can handle, but there is also a peace in it all that I can't really put into words. Like a great gift has been bestowed upon me or something.

March 14, 2007 9:26 PM  
Blogger Noël said...

*hugs* to you. I am not wired to parent either. Yet I love kids. I do not envy your choices, but I know you will do what you need to.

March 15, 2007 5:07 AM  
Blogger Vickie said...

Loved your recent comment on AFG - I thought it was right - on.

On the kids - consider the importance of grandparents - as grandparents - not parents.

If you find better circumstances for them - adoption/permanent foster through a family that wants and is equiped to handle them - and you two remain as grandparents - they have the best of both worlds.

I have a friend that raised her own five and now has two more - thru foster to adopt and she loves them - wants them - is very good to them - they are a true part of that big family. And, they are two very lucky children. Their birth circumstances were pretty bad - their mothers never have had full custody.

There ARE families out there that adopt older children, take siblings together and leave them together. AND let the current extended family be very involved in the kids' lives. I have seen it work with my friend (above) and also with two other families that I know.

If you have tried this once already - and it wasn't a good fit for you - listen to that - being a really good grandparent is very important too.

March 15, 2007 5:22 AM  
Blogger Helen the Felon said...

I agree with what a.m. said...there has to be some middle ground here. There's a lot you can do for those kids without taking over primary responsibility for them. I bet that taking them out to lunch, or calling up just to talk, and letting them know they are loved and respected and important will go a long way toward easing the pain of the neglect they suffer. I'm sure that just knowing you understand their situation and are there for them has and will do a world of good.

You have to do what's right for you. I'm right there with you on choosing not to be a parent, and I can't really think of a circumstance under which I'd agree to raise a child. But you don't need custody to be an example and show them the unconditional love they are missing at home. You are clearly a good person and an adult they can trust. I'm betting that's more than enough.

March 15, 2007 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Gryphoncub said...

I wish you all the best lynette. I have so enjoyed your comments on JMG and am so glad to have found your blog here. You are an amazing woman that has shown, through your writing, the depth of wisdom you have inside yourself. I add my voice to those that are sure you will do the right thing. Much love, Brian

March 15, 2007 11:22 AM  
Blogger Krisha said...

BAB -

Wow. I will sometimes go a week or more without checking in on you, my southern girl, because I am too busy with work, babies, etc. Then I'll read 10 at once and be a mess...your honesty brings tears to my eyes.

Thank you for your honesty. Thank you, thank you. And, if I "know" you from your blog, you'll figure this all out or you won't, as a good friend of mine says. And that will be OK too.

Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

-k

March 15, 2007 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Lou said...

Hi Lynette, I also came here through JMG.
Remember that children can be very resilient and are often more capable than what we give them credit for when it comes to understanding life. The best thing you can do is give them that respect and let them know that you care. You don't have to give them a place to reside but giving them a person who cares and they can talk to can be more important. They may be young, even very young, but there is strength in knowing you have someone to turn to in hard times. Granting access will help them more than a placed to bed down.

I used to take my sister's kids from the time they were babies for a few hours on the weekends giving her some time off. It was good for both of us but better for the kids because as they grew up they knew they had resources to draw on and I am happy to say that they are well balanced at least in part because of this.
What ever you do I know it will be for the best because in my limited reading I can sense your care and passion for people and life.
Hugs

March 16, 2007 6:32 AM  
Blogger Rivkeh said...

Hi Lynette -
You commented on a friend's blog with some beautifully wise words regarding her finding a new home for her dog. I came to check out your blog and saw this post.

Consider the positive impact you can have in these childrens' lives without becoming their primary caretaker. Do not paralyze yourself with guilt over your decision to take care of YOU first...instead rejoice in your ability to be a powerful outside role-model.

They will undoubtedly benefit from your love, regardless of how they receive it. Good luck. :-)

March 16, 2007 5:52 PM  
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