The Awful Truth About Me

I discovered this morning that I have two ways of looking at a pregnancy (and the trying-to-conceive) of someone I know. Three ways if you count the mildly indifferent, 3-billion-miracles-is-enough attitude I have toward most pregnant women. There’s the happy-for-you I’ll-babysit-for-free-if-you-need-me-to feeling, and the oh-my-god-it’s-the-antichrist feeling. [Genders assigned randomly to fetuses from hereon out.]

In one situation, the mom-to-be is beautiful, smart, funny, talented, artsy, and capable. I know she’ll provide her son or daughter with a wonderful, loving, and warm home full of knowledge and opportunities. In a way, I’m slightly envious of that baby. I imagine he or she will end up being a polite, clever, contributing member of society who fights for the rights of others and advocates for the less fortunate.  Mom and her partner have been TTC for a while now and everyone I know is elated for them.

In the other situation, a manic-depressive, undiagnosed (as far as I know) borderline personality has also been feverishly TTC for the past couple of years and, word on the street is that she’s “finally” gotten pregnant. I feel sorry for that child. Not just because it will most likely be an overweight, unhealthy, unhappy, unattractive kid (yes, I know, I’m a terrible person), but because I see an upbringing similar to mine. Most likely worse. Whereas mine was mostly cold with bouts of anger and what some would consider abuse, hers will be an intense yo-yo full of screaming fits and crying jags. She won’t understand her mother’s mood swings, and she’ll spend a lot of time either in her room, trying to avoid the inevitable, or acting out in an attempt to punish her parents or get her father’s attention — attention that will most likely be taken up with catering to her mother.

I see a future where the kid ends up being an anxious, lonely person who has difficulty making intimate connections with other people.

I imagine guilt trips and co-dependency, the boy being held responsible for other people’s (his grandparents, father, uncle, former friends of his mother) mistakes, riding his mother’s emotional roller coaster while he tries desperately, and to no avail, to get off. He’ll be taught that food is love, love actually is conditional, he can never really please his mother, and he’ll have to deal with his mom’s jealousy if his father so much as pays a moment’s worth of attention to him.

My former therapist said I have trouble letting go of control. That’s an understatement, to be sure. But this is the sort of situation that might give me anxiety because I feel like a huge mistake is being made and there isn’t anything I can do about it. To me, the idea that someone is bringing him into the world without forethought and introspection on the mom’s part is just another prime example of her BPD. The mom has no business conceiving, or believing she has a right to bear and raise a child. I think I know the mom-to-be better than she knows herself (it’s not difficult for her to ignore and deny the negative aspects of her personality give her disorder), and despite the fact that I haven’t had any contact with her in quite some time, I sincerely doubt that she has made any personal or psychological progress. Her personality disorder is nearly impossible to treat because getting a person to recognize their issues is nearly impossible.

I suppose some would say that I have no business saying things like this, but since Heather tagged me to tell seven things about myself, this would be the first, if you didn’t already know this about me. I guess I’m the sort of person who passes judgment on others and their decisions and then shares that with the world, as if admitting to it makes me less of an asshole.

I have chosen not to try and get pregnant for all my adult life, knowing that I don’t think I have the skills to properly raise a child the way I’d like. Being a mother isn’t something you should do just because you have ovaries and a uterus. It’s not a choice you make when you’re bored and you decide you want the unconditional love and support of another human being for whom you are solely responsible. She’s not a puppy, she’s a human being.

It’s not like buying an armoire at Pier 1 on a whim, when you know you really can’t afford it, but you do it anyway and figure you’ll pay off the credit card when get your next student loan check. It’s a lifetime commitment that takes lots of work, and will eventually take the constant demand for attention off our BPD mom-to-be and create a whirlwind of problems as this child’s development is stunted.

Perhaps, in time, I’ll make more of an effort to conceive, but I think if someone like me recognizes my faults and chooses not to bring a child into the world, I know there are many more people much worse off than I am in that department who feel it’s their god-given right as a person to procreate. No matter what the consequences will be to that child.

And that’s one awful truth about me.

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2 thoughts on “The Awful Truth About Me

  1. I think it’s far better not to bring a child into this world than to be selfish and do it (if you know it’s not really what you want). I don’t think it’s an awful truth at all. Every single day I have kids in my classroom whose parents don’t care one bit about what they do. I have kids who are taking care of their parents. I have kids who live with grandparents because they have no idea where their parents are. I have kids who hate themselves because they’ve been told their whole lives they aren’t wanted and are ugly/stupid/etc.

    I think it’s the mature decision if you know it’s not what you really want. Kids are wonderful and I couldn’t imagine my life without my son, but I wish more people really waited and stopped to think about what kids mean in their lives. I didn’t have my son until I was in my early 30’s and man, am I glad. Even as responsible as I was in my 20’s, I wasn’t even kind of in a place I could have been a good mom.

  2. I didn’t see the link immediately and had a second of wondering which one of these moms-to-be I was– mostly b/c at least parts of the childhood you describe sound a lot like my own: the self-absorbed emotional rollercoaster mom screaming through the walls accompanied by my father’s lower soothing tones as he tried to calm her down long enough to talk out the latest non-crisis.

    I think questioning your skills has got to be the first step toward good parent-making. Most people never ask those questions. No reflection = no hope of a better life than the one we had for our kids.

    Thank you for having such faith in us. It really means a lot to me, and it’s a great thing to need to live up to.

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