My choice

            Twice so far this week I have had to call another parent to apologize for the dental imprint Benjamin left behind in his attempt to eat his classmate.  And it’s only Thursday.  I do not know what to do with a child who thinks it is funny to slam doors in people’s faces and spends the majority of his day trying to devise new and ingenious ways to get the adults to say “no.”  Last night, as the boy lay on his bedroom floor naked and wailed, J looked at me and said, “maybe this is what the terrible twos look like with him.”

            You think?

            Not that four is all that fantastic, let me tell you.  Zachary ranges from cruel with his brother to bratty with his mother to angelic with his teachers to shy with his karate instructor.  But, mostly I get to see the cruel and the bratty. 

            It would all be a little easier to take if I had gotten perhaps one complete night of sleep in the last four months.  Lilah is a delightful baby, really she is, but would it kill her to sleep through the night every couple of weeks?  (edited to add: I wrote this yesterday, so of course last night she finally did.  Nine-and-a-half straight hours.)

            I have a husband who makes a solid living and is devoted to time with his kids.  I have a wonderful preschool to bring my kids to.  I have a part-time nanny.  All told, I am only alone with all three kids about a third of the time.  And I wanted children.  We planned the first two, and the third was a welcome but unplanned surprise.  We wanted kids so badly that we got a little help along the way.  I am raising kids in the best possible circumstances, a fact that does almost nothing to mitigate my thrice-daily urge to climb into the linen closet and hide under the chaos of unfolded towels.

            I cannot imagine how much worse it would be if I had not desired these children.  If I had been forced to bear them instead of choosing it.  If I was doing it on my own or without support or in poverty or as a teenager.  Or any of a million other scenarios.  Like in a country that does not counsel abortion as an option because it fears losing US aid. 

            On this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I ask my brand-spanking-new President to protect children everywhere by allowing women to choose whether or not to bear them.  It is in no child’s best interest to be born to a woman who is not ready to either raise him or put him up for adoption.  I Blog for Choice because I know how freaking frustrating kids can be. 

            No one should be forced to face a two-year-old each morning.  That just has to be a choice.

23 responses to “My choice

  1. There’s no room in the linen closet. I already have dibs on that spot…
    I agree with you wholeheartedly.

  2. I love that you blog with integrity – about issues that matter to you, knowing that others will (sometimes loudly) disagree. With my 3, and sleepless nights (mostly) behind me I cannot agree strongly enough. I was young, terribly young when I had mine. We were poor, we were over-stretched, we were stressed and harassed and, honestly, had we had any brains at all we would have waited. That choice, to have children when it is RIGHT for those children, when you can give them what they need, when you can be the parent you want to be – that is what will make for strong communities and a better future. It is also what, in my opinion, being pro-life should be about; something more than the simple ability of a cell to sub-divide – the ability of a child to be nurtured into a strong and independent adult.

  3. I wish that more families would be counseled into what the “choice” to have children entails.

    My beliefs on abortion aside, I see so many women/ families who have kids because they just do. It might be a choice, it might not be a choice, but they don’t always understand that the this is a hard choice to raise and NURTURE the child. And as the previous commentor stated, we need to find ways to give families this skills, no matter what the “choices” are that they make.

  4. That was lovely and well put. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. I do love my closet as well. With Wifi, it’s even better. I planned my first two and this last one was a delightful surprise as well. That doesn’t parenting any easier….however to have a choice is the best thing in the world. All women should get to choose.

    Great post Emily.

  6. An even better option would be birth control. It’s pretty effective these days, if people would be responsible enough to actually use it.

  7. Of course birth control would be better option, but when your parachute fails, it´s important to have an extra, isn´t it?

  8. Abortion is no way to “protect children” (what an oxymoron!). Until we stop the systematic murder of the unborn, this nation is going to continue to lose its moral center.
    But you knew I would disagree with you. 🙂
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Love this. Fantastic stuff.

  10. I’m with Evenshine on this one. I don’t see how death can be “in a child’s best interest” more than life. Being pro-life is about protecting children. But you knew we’d disagree on this one.

    But it has to be about more than that. People who conceive children in less than ideal circumstances need our support, and we need to work to make sure there are systems in place to provide it. To be truly pro-life means to be supportive of lives from conception to death and everything in between. That is where our country fails, not by providing too little access to abortion but by providing too little support for parents who need it.

    Oh, and reminding people that sex and babies are actually connected helps too…but that is a topic for a post sometime.

  11. I agree. But I wish there were also other choices–not to grow up in poverty with the limitations that poverty imposes. To have adequate health care. To have adequate conselling. To have good education on parenting in high schools. To have a nurturing and safe alternative for children growing up in abusive homes. All children should be wanted. All children should be cherished. And none of them should have to give up hope to cope with the day to day.

  12. Thank you for this. It’s incredibly important to hear from women who have chosen to have kids who believe in choice.

  13. As always, Em, a thoughtful and reasoned approach to this loaded issue.

  14. and even when it IS a choice it’s still…well….fucking hard!

    you know, the day of the inauguration I heard that it was likely that on RvW’s anniversary Obama would reverse Bush’s bullshit order (which was actually dreamed up by Reagan and then reversed by Clinton and then reversed again by Bush) and I thought to myself, “Wow! is it possible?? To have a leader I AGREE with??”. I’m still in shock. lol

  15. And if we could please use a better approach to sex ed while we’re at it?

    The world is overpopulated as it is. If we can prevent pregnancies, and ensure choices at every turn, with support, as you said…

  16. Beautifully put! I have quite enjoyed peeking into your life (three children?! You’re brave… I have a cat and a husband, and some days it’s too much responsibility for me), and am thrilled that you present such an articulate and nuanced argument for choice, “No one should be forced to face a two-year old in the morning.” Damn site better than I could put it. 😉

  17. Everything is worse without enough sleep. In the earlier days of my son’s life I used to say to anyone who’d listen: ‘They tortured Winnie Mandela like this’. Hopefully Lilah has turned the corner now…?

  18. I agree. Intellectually. And yet, now that I’m a mom it’s an almost unbearable topic to think about. My kids are real and perfect, especially when they’re asleep. What if I hadn’t been ready to have one of them? It doesn’t bear thinking of. I (think I) support right to choose but I’m afraid that in too many cases right to choose = right to be a complete idiot. And just to be devil’s advocate, who says that kids raised in a nearly perfect environment are going to turn out better than kids raised in poverty by parent(s) struggling to cope? 😉 There is some evidence that a bit of struggle builds character…

  19. I’ve refrained from talking about this issue, generally, and today specifically, because I can really see both sides of it (excluding all the crazies at either end, that is).

    What your post really made me think about, though, was not choice, but about the kinds of expectations we have for parents and families. About the ideal we paste shakily over the whole notion of growing human beings into viable adult creatures. It can get a little wacked, our pursuit of perfection in parenting. Some of it seems to derive, perhaps, from the illusion, perpetuated every second, that we really can control it all, if we just are smart enough, kind enough, patient enough, “good” enough.

  20. Pingback: Shame, shame « Evenshine’s Weblog

  21. I can remember turning to my wife and saying, “Raising children can’t be impossible. Billions of people have done it. So why does it feel so impossible?” Oddly, we made it. I guess. They are – according to our justice system – now adults.

  22. Hear hear. Not only do I agree with you, but I feel even MORE strongly about women having the right th choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy than I did before I had kids, if that’s possible.

    Because, like you, I have it pretty good. And it’s still freakin’ hard some days. And I would never, ever presume to decide that someone else should be forced to have children, too.

    I was delighted to see Obama lift the restrictions on international aid for programs that want to talk about abortion as an option on his second day in office. I even pointed out the change in policy to my husband, I was so relieved.

  23. I hear ya – my choice was to marry into a home with 2 teenage boys. Eek. The linen closet and I are already buds!

    I agree with all my heart and appreciate your words. This is a tough subject.

    The thing that bugs me.. is its often the anti-choice factions that vehemently oppose strong sex ed in schools.