A little background…I am a child of divorce; lots of divorces. I had little faith in the long-lasting nature of marriage and had watched my mother struggle to raise two daughters from two different failed marriages on her own. She had little education and no parenting tools to speak of. Tough stuff. I also had an aunt who was a child abuser, and it frightened me that anger like that might exist in me as well. I was never much of a “baby person” and I never had the marriage day fantasies like some of my friends.
Then my husband came along and changed everything.
He came from a tightly knit family with long, successful marriages and in his worldview, marriage worked, he definitely wanted children and I was the one for him. Since he is a brilliant and determined man, he patiently earned my trust and love and finally my agreement to consider having children.
In my typical business/mortgage banking style, I presented my contract negotiation positions:
- I would consider having a child after a couple of years of independent wedded bliss.
- I would consider having a second if, and only if, I liked the first one. (ha!) and…
- In a divorce, since he had the superior education and family support and resources, he would have primary custody of the children.
No. 3 sounds cold doesn’t it?
But think about it; that is something every woman has to consider before she brings a child into the world.
Often, the man can walk away, knowing that the woman will have a biological and social imperative to take care of that baby she has carried in her body, fed and bonded with, no matter what her circumstances. I had lived it, and it wasn’t pretty at times. My father paid a mere $50 per month child support because the military service he was in forced him to do so. I was not going to have a child in those circumstances. My husband understood and accepted my conditions and I married him, still with the smallest kernel of doubt that he could really believe I meant what I said….but I did mean it and would have done it for the good of the child.
God has a way of working best when you are making plans, and sure enough, He exercised His sense of humor when on our first anniversary, I got pregnant in spite of an IUD. Just to make it totally inconvenient, I had just accepted a management job the week before.
Ironically, the day I stood there with a bright blue stick in my hand, trying desperately to remember the name of my gynecologist, was Halloween…Trick or Treat!
My doctor verified the results, and yes I was one of the .02 percent or so whose IUD fails. Excellent. Now, I was pregnant totally off-plan and I had to inform my brand new boss that his newly hired Closing Manager for the region was taking a break in nine months!
My husband was amazing. He said, “It is your body, a choice you were not planning on making yet, and I will support whatever choice you make.” Of course, I knew this was his dream come true. We had made another life through our love. When I weighed all of the factors; a husband who adored me and wanted children even more than I did, I was happily married and financially secure, and his glowing happiness at this news….how could I say no? And so I committed to my first pregnancy.
That’s when the panic started to set in. I knew I didn’t know anything about babies and how to care for or raise them. I knew that many of the things I experienced in my childhood I didn’t want to include in theirs.
What was I going to do about it?
Well, read, learn, talk to other parents (experts) and find a tool belt of strategies that would help me to do the best job I could, just as I had in every business position. I would apply what I learned along with common sense and eventually come up with a better way of doing it that fit me and my style.
Great books that helped me (besides “Babies and Other Hazards of Sex” by Dave Barry):
- “Between Parent and Child” by Dr. Haim Ginott
- “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk.” by Faber & Mazlish
- “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Faber & Mazlish (second time around but before birth)
- “Dr. Spock’s Baby Book” – always a classic for the beginning parent
There are many others out there but look for practical applications. Parenting Theory is cool, but applications are better and reading “Between Parent and Child” tied right into my gut feeling that there was a respectful way to apply authority that did not automatically trigger a rebellion in children.
More to come.