The very spirited discussion about parenting we had in the book club post last week reminded me of something I've been meaning to bring up. There is a story and a question (or five) here, and since I enjoy talking to you all rather more than just howling into the winds of the internets, I would be much obliged if you could answer me that question. K?
So the story. Way back when, before I saw Dr.Best for the first time this pregnancy, I had to talk to an intake nurse-- apparently a new-fangled addition to the Order Things Are at the practice. Ostensibly, the purpose of talking to her was for her to update their records with anything medical or otherwise relevant that happened since the last time I was in their care, i.e. after that six week appointment I had after A's birth. Point being, she had the records, and she started by ascertaining that this was in fact my fourth recorded pregnancy, first ending in a miscarriage, second in Monkey, third in the stillbirth for which she expressed appropriate and obviously sincere sympathy. Which then brought us to this here fourth pregnancy, about which she said "So we can thank your little guy for this."
I couldn't formulate right then why that made me supremely uncomfortable, why it made me go cold and stiff, so I went with "that's not how I think about it," and she went with "Awww..." indicating either that she believed me misguided or that she felt sorry for me, but definitely not that she was sorry to have said it, and we went on with the rest of the intake interview. Which was ok. After I hung up, I was still thinking about why that affected me so much. I found it, and fast, which reinforced my belief that you should never depend on me in a firefight because I apparently freeze, but you can depend on me to analyze it to death afterwards. Or pre-analyze it, actually, I do that too. This is why I have a whole list of responses stored up for the stupid things people in general and certain people in particular might say to me in the near future-- makes me feel a lot more secure.
So what I figured out is that the philosophy, the belief behind that particular statement, or at least the logical extension of that belief, is the polar opposite of the way I parent. I don't believe my children owe me anything. I don't believe they are responsible for my happiness, now or in my sunset years. This responsibility, of ensuring we achieved the most important goal (ha! try the only goal) in our lives at the time--getting knocked up-- it's huge. I would never ask my living child to assume responsibility for anything remotely as significant to me, so why would I place that on my dead one? And if we didn't get knocked up, when we didn't for six months after starting to try, if I miscarried, would, were those things A's fault?
I know people don't mean that. I know people don't extend their thought to the logical conclusion as I just did here, but I seem to need to do that. I am very much into the logical extensions these days. As an aside, this logical extension business is also why I can't deal with people crediting God with answering their prayers and giving them X they asked for, where X is the miracle baby, recovery from major illness, safety of a loved one, or just about anything that isn't peace and wisdom. Because I absolutely have to flip what they are saying in my mind and see it as an indication that unlike their deserving selves, everyone who didn't get these same things must not really deserve them.
I also realize there is no law that says you have to parent your dead children to any appreciable degree, or to parent them in the same way as you parent your living children. As I said multiple times in multiple places, I really do believe that we each do what we need to do to keep moving.
And here comes that question. Ok, questions. How do you parent or hope to parent? What about the way you or someone you know was parented influences the way you do or hope to one day do things as a parent? If you have a dead child, do you parent them? How?
Like I said, I would be much obliged to see your comments. You know you have nothing better to do this weekend anyway.