We Ruin Our Kids

The other night I counted back and realized my period is significantly late. I’m usually like a clock about these things, so the fact that I’m about two weeks late had me nervous.

“What if I’m pregnant?” I fretted to my husband while we laid in bed, listing off all the things that had to be done before the move.

“Are you kidding? I’d be so excited!” he enthused. I rolled my eyes in the dark and ticked off all the reasons why getting pregnant right now would be highly inconvenient.

But the truth is the inconvenience of the matter is a small thing to how terrified I am of being a mother. My anxiety about motherhood has reached a point to where I’m not sure if I can really morally justify bringing children into the world. How can people justify creating new lives to ruin when there are children out there who need homes? Probably I’d ruin an adopted kid’s life too, but at least I can live with myself knowing I lifted someone out of a bad situation and tried to improve their lot.

I know where my anxiety comes from. My own upbringing was about as toxic as you could imagine and still escape alive. At 19 I was diagnosed with PTSD. Yeah, like who gets PTSD from their own freaking parent? Me, apparently. This is the irony; my husband with two combat deployments doesn’t have it, but I do. 

My mother is a black hole–a dementor, if you will. I feel physically ill being in the same room as her. She had four of us, despite a fantastically failing marriage and would have tried for more had she not been older when she started. She frequently talked about wanting to be pregnant and have more kids. Why? Who in their right mind thinks to themselves, “Yeah my marriage is in the toilet and I lock myself in my room all day so I don’t have to take care of the three kids I already have–but you know what would improve this situation? ANOTHER BABY!”

My aunt theorizes that maybe pregnancies helped balance her hormones, but I think my mother was constantly looking for a new distraction. She “outgrew” her other children as soon as we started to display individual personalities and question her erratic behavior. She needed someone new to control.

I ended up mainly raising my youngest brother (nearly 10 years younger than me), and it was a hellish experience. He was born sensitive to begin with, and by 4 years old he was already displaying signs of depression. I’ve been there with the diaper changing, the potty training, the night time screaming, the tantrums, the sullen behavior, dressing him, washing him, making sure he gets to school, arranging hanging out with my friends over whether or not my dad would be home to watch him, packing him lunch, making sure he does his homework, etc, etc. 

I love my brother dearly. It is truly a miracle he isn’t some juvenile delinquent by now given all he’s been through. He has a heart of gold and is one of the most sincere teenage boys you will ever meet. But he struggles in school, and he struggles to make friends, and I can’t help but feel guilty about that to an extent. Part of his shortcomings are surely related to my parenting deficiencies.  

I feel like I’ve done the mother thing. I’m over it. It’s highly overrated. People think it’s like, this great amazing thing–so many women glorify the idea of physically having their own kid, then get depressed and angry and emotionally drained when it turns out they can’t conceive, and it makes me angry. What is the point? Listen friends, I’m sorry you don’t get what you want in life. I’m not saying this with snark. I am truly moved by how upset you are and wish I could ease your sorrow. This is true. But another side of me says, I’m so sorry you can’t birth out a human that doesn’t need to be here in the first place, just so you can harm your child and be estranged as adults. This is what I also want to say to them. But of course I don’t, because it isn’t polite and infertility is supposed to be this big deal. If I’m infertile, it will be sad for my husband because he wants his own kids. But after a moment of reflection, I will be relieved of the burden of admitting to my blood that I fucked them up, and I can’t say I’ll weep over it. 

My thought is this; how can someone like my mother look us in the eye and admit that we were unnecessary to bring forth, and she did so purely to torture us for her own selfish wants? If I were adopted, at least I could close that chapter of my life behind me and focus on finding my birth parents. I imagine it would be a relief to know that I’m not related to the person who tortured me for my entire childhood and teenage years. I reason if people truly want children for the right motivations, they’ll adopt. Seriously, just give them the gift of getting out of foster homes, and opting out of your fucked up family as adults. 

My husband tries to use the argument that “you’re not your mother” and “break the family cycle” and all that, and he means well, but isn’t that just what we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better? This is my fear. My mother was the product of a broken home, but I’m sure she smugly thought the same thing at first. It’s not clear to me that my Obachan ever really wanted kids, although she raised three. I can only speculate how bad Obachan’s home life must have been to escape to another country where she didn’t speak the language, and never have contact with her family again except for one sister. Breaking the cycle, huh? A few generations stacked against me it looks like. 

In the morning I took a pregnancy test. It was negative. I chalked up my late period to the multiple coast-to-coast trips we’ve been making in the last 6 weeks. I took a deep breath, grateful for the reprieve. This gives me time. More time to sort out my emotions about all this. I truly, truly want to be happy about having a baby when the time comes. Maybe, I should even hope that I’m sad if I can’t. 

 

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2 thoughts on “We Ruin Our Kids

  1. Great post; thanks so much for sharing this, I can really relate to the emotions you describe. I had a similar childhood with a psychotic, abusive mother who had three kids despite her (at best) indifference to our well-being. It really makes me angry when I see people talking about wanting more kids, or complaining about problems that only exist because of the number of children they had (which they imply is the responsibility of their kids, not them the parents)…being raised by my older sister and abused by my older brother it makes me so mad to hear how many people take the issue so lightly and selfishly, having more children they don’t want, won’t like or take care of properly for the dumbest reasons. My older sister was also about ten years older then me, and she had a child at 21, and most definitely did not break the cycle or succeed at straying very far from how our mother treated us. So I’m really glad you’re able to wait until you are ready, if ever to have a child. No good comes from rushing, but I wish you the best in working through all these emotions and deciding what to do.

    take care,
    -Caden

    • Hi Caden, thank you for your thoughtful comment! I’ve spent the last hour getting lost in your blog, and every time I try to leave a comment on a post, I just have too many things to say–or too many things trying to come out! My siblings, to a large extent, are in denial about our abuse because our mother never physically sexually abused us and I guess that’s where they draw the line as to whether the abuse was “real” or not. There were a lot of emotional incest and creepy comments/controlling aspects of our sexuality, especially as we hit puberty (raging at me when I told her at 9 or 10 I no longer wanted her to make me shower with my brother, refusing to let me and my sister wear bras at 13 or use tampons because we were “trying to be sluts”, etc) and of course, the violence and religious fanaticism. I refuse to watch movies like “Carrie” or “Mommy Dearest” because just hearing descriptions of the movies make my blood run cold.

      It is completely unfathomable to me how someone who gave birth to you can treat you in such a way. Too many people don’t pause to sort out their own problems before dashing to get pregnant and fretting when they don’t.

      It breaks my heart to hear that your older sister ended up being a POS after all. I cannot imagine doing that to my brother, but also it sounds like her upbringing and yours was even more horrendous than mine. I advocate for him against my mother whenever possible. Thank God my dad has custody, but she still sinks her claws into him and guilts him for “leaving her all alone” and her weird sexual comments and other such bullshit.

      Kudos to you for cutting off your family! I have cut off my mother except for the most superficial of ways (seeing her at weddings and graduations, puke) and I know for a fact that my mother will never be alone with my kids, ever.

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