Saturday, August 31, 2013

Who's Not Your Daddy?

I used to get asked, now and then, if Domestic Partner and I would ever consider adopting a baby. Domestic Partner always disagrees (or doesn't remember) but I would mention how he was the one to bring up the subject, more than once.

"I'm willing to make that commitment," I had told him. "But you have to think about the fact that it's going to be a commitment for twenty to twenty-five years. It won't just be a year or two of having a cute baby."

I asked him to look around the house and picture it covered in laundry and toys. "Oh, no," he countered. "It wouldn't be that bad with just one baby."

"What does your brother's house look like?" I asked.

Domestic Partner has a niece and a nephew. "Oh, yeah," he admitted.

"Your clean and tidy house would be history," I continued. "All of the nice things you have out now would have to be stored away if you don't want them broken. I imagine you never feel caught up on housework, once you become a parent, especially a working parent."

I also asked him to consider the fact that I would only work part time, if at all. I would be the Mom figure if we adopted one or more children. I would be the one driving kids to soccer practice and dance classes. I would be the PTA parent. I would have to learn how to cook and clean better.

I would also have a perpetual pot of coffee ready, 24/7. I think about BFF Kathy staying up later than her husband and kids - the only time where she can get a few minutes to herself to do things such as read - and getting up in the morning before everyone else. I know I would be tired all of the time, as a parent, but I would do it. You do what you have to do.

Domestic Partner made me really angry during a discussion a few years ago. He didn't think I could make the necessary sacrifices in my own life to become a parent. I guess he meant my selfish desire to perform, to sing and dance in shows. I argued that he should know how nurturing I can be from how I treated his dog when I first met him, although I'm going to guess that caring for dogs cannot be compared to the daily care of actual human children.

I didn't argue further. I was still mad but we had already decided by then that we were not going to adopt. There was no point in fighting about it, seething as I was at the time.

Domestic Partner is seven years older than me. I had asked him to think about how old we were going to be by the time an adopted child was college-age, or finally old enough to move out of the house, even if we adopted a child who was in grade school.

So, it never happened. We decided to continue adopting surrogate kids instead, the canine and feline varieties.

I used to think a lot about being a parent when I was in my teens and my twenties. I used to make plans about how I was going to raise them, how I was going to demonstrate love to them, and make them feel safe. During my thirties I realized that part of my desire to become a parent was to compensate for what I felt was neglected in my own upbringing. Once that realization surfaced, the desire to become a parent decreased significantly.

But I still think about it sometimes. I hope I would have had the patience to be a parent, even if I didn't always have the energy. I sincerely think I would have been able to give up what I need to, put my life and goals on hold, and put my family's needs before my own. I would have tried to be a fun parent, dancing and singing with my children in the house while they were growing up. I would have probably ended up being that Embarrassing Parent as they got older, so maybe it's better that we didn't adopt.

Still, if I hadn't met Domestic Partner, I could have dated a divorced dad with kids. I could have become the evil step-monster.


Cheryl said...

For whatever it's worth, I think you would be a wonderful parent, because you're true to yourself, and that's the best thing a parent can be--much more important than cooking and cleaning. Your felines and canines are lucky to have you too.

Cheryl said...

P.S. My ex used to question my hypothetical parenting abilities, and it took me a long time to realize that, of course, she was really projecting her own insecurities onto me. DP would probably make a great dad, but maybe he has some fears of his own that are easier to file under "Peter is selfish for always wanting to put on a show"?

Peter Varvel said...

Thank you, Cheryl.
Yeah, it's amazing how much we've continued discussing it after deciding not to adopt . . .
He works hard at a stressful job that he mostly hates. He'd be a great financial provider and I would embrace the gendered role of emotional provider.