Friday, November 04, 2005

Fertile vs Infertile : The Parenting Style

Here is a little dilemma that has me a little bothered. I am so blessed to be a Mommy, thanx to the (not so) wonderful world of IVF. Getting pregnant was not easy for us, and still isn’t. I have so many dear, precious and irreplaceable friends who are in the same situation, who also have children from other ‘sources’ than the good old fashioned making whoopee kind of way. I am waving to you all, it is mostly those of you who actually read my blog, so perhaps you will understand, perhaps you won’t and you’ll just shake wyour head saying “Oh dear, she’s on one of ‘those’ rants again.” I do welcome and strongly encourage some comments from parents who are from the non-infertile crowd (translation: fertile). Heck, there are some of you out there who have managed your way into parenthood via various means all within the same family (you know who you are, and I love you very much, yes ALL of you, sheesh, no favourites here).

I do think I am a good parent, but I also know at many times, I am not. Not proud of myself, nor my actions. I lose my patience, get extremely frustrated and sometimes just downright pissed off mad AT them. (yes, you heard me correctly) Gasp! The horrors!! Do I occasionally yell at my kids? Yes, I do. There are some days where I feel that’s been our only form of communication. Rest assured that isn’t the case, but it sure can feel that way. Those days are the worst. They suck. Am I proud of myself? No, it bites.

When I see other parents who are so tolerant, so patient, oh so Mrs. Cleaver with their little ones, I get jealous I don’t seem to share those same coping mechanisms. I have always been the Type A who speaks her mind, all the time, usually in a rather brutally honest way which often gets me into trouble. If dealing with other adults, so be it, they can deal. If dealing with my children, I get nauseated from the guilt, always after the fact of course. Is that little extra amount of guilt I am feeling correlated to the fact that arriving to my ultimate dream of being a Mommy took just that little, no wait, A LOT of extra work to arrive to said dream?

I don’t believe I would have a different parenting style had my offspring occurred due to some horizontal aerobics, but I do wonder if it *should* be. All that extra heartache, tears, emotions, the angst ridden challenges in every facet including financial, mental and physiological…and folks, that’s NOT normal, nor fair when all you really want is to be a parent. I often wonder when I am post-losing-it at my kids, if it was truly warranted. I often say to myself, “Come on already lady, they are only three. Get over it.” Which is followed with gut wrenching feelings of regret while wondering why I am not a softy-tofty towards them because it was simply so hard to have them. We are ‘strict’ in the area of manners and learning right from wrong. And for those wondering, yes of course we bend the rules, we are well aware that you have to pick your battles, and we do. Holy verbal diarrhea, am I making any sense here?

Please don’t be scared, I am not in need of any anger management therapy. I do wish I was more of the laissez-faire mindset when it came down to the smaller things. Any hints? Three deep breaths? Meditative yoga? A mantra (“the water is rolling off my back”)? Feng shui? Booze? I’ll try to sing Doris Day a little more often “Que Sera Sera…”

I do wonder if some other infertile parents out there feel a little more aware of their disciplining than the ‘other team’. I think an interesting perspective may come from those of you who have children from both AR, adoption and/or au naturel. Maybe I just feel bad. B-A-D when I am upset with my kids. After all, they are here, they are mine and they are only three.


Anonymous Snack Mommy said...

Interesting blog Nancy, and not the direction I was anticipating when I started reading it.

While I will say, I think you view various aspects of parenting differently having struggled to have children, I cannot say I have viewed discipline as one of those areas. I see it more in the trying to suck every possible second out of your child's life to the point almost agony when they are having a new experience that you cannot witness first hand.

Fortunately, I will soon have the experience of parenting two children conceived in very different ways. I honestly, do not think that will change my views on how I parent.

However, the biggest lesson I have learned since becoming a parent is how different each child is. Pre-parenthood, I thought children were like clay, and as long as the parent's were disciplined and consistant, they could pretty much mould their child into the form they thought to be appropriate....then I got my very own lump of clay. And he ain't all that mouldable!

Bottom line, is that each family has their own dynamic, and I don't believe how that child was conceived affects the way in which we always fall back on our old habits and behaviours when under stress. And yes, having anyone in your house who is three is a stress induced situation :~)

1:18 AM EST  
Blogger BeachMama said...

Nancy, I totally understand what you are saying. Somedays I question myself wondering if I "should" be different because I had to work so hard for my precious little guy.

But, truth be told (yes, here it is in black and white), when I am disciplining my son, I hear my Mothers voice! Yep, her words, her voice, but not the same actions. I don't really yell as my little guy, but I do get frustrated and when he isn't listening, I use my (or my Mom's) strong, stern voice that gets the point accross.

I will admit that there are times I cherish and back out of things, because I will never know if I will have the chance to do this again. But, I don't want a spoiled little boy that will try to control me when he is older, and makes me want to regret anything.

They are indeed only three, and you are only one Mom, to two kids of the same age. And quite often you are the only parent home. That is a lot to shoulder. Maybe you should get a few extra minutes of "Me" time than you have been getting?


7:14 AM EST  
Blogger Silver Creek Mom said...

When you get the answers will you let me know? Please. I'm the poster mom of "Mothering the right way" guilt. Both my kids are parented different and it's becasue their personalites are sooo different. BUT I don't think it was because both were concieved by different means. M au natural and N IVF.

I really tried NOT to parent different with eiher child. I tried, no strived hard, to make sure they had the same displine and parenting style.But that slowly blew out of the water with nathan. HE doesn't respond the same as Miranda did. I made a concious effort to try not to be diiferent becasue we wanted Nathan and did every means possible to have him. I'm learning as I go with this boy. He's not easy but very smart and doesn't give in easy at all. WIll of Iron. He'd make a great super hero!

I get very frustrated with my little man. He is a VERY strong willed, knows his own mind and thinks he is my equal type child. I cannot get him to do anything or at least very little when I first ask him too. UNLESS he sees it's going to benifit him. I need tons of sleep not to resort to yelling at him and getting him to listen.

I find this blog very interesting Nancy. Cause I always thought of you as one of those mom's I'd like to be.You always seem to patient, do the crafts and get out alot and do things, where I don't. Not that we don't do stuff it's just differnt and you seem so in control and I feel sometimes LIKE I'm spinning out of control that's when I throw Nathan in the van and head for the nearest Timmys for a large Cap! Makes me calm down. Goes to show we are all the same our kids can tick us off to no end and we are all human. Even if those kids are the ones we would die for.

Are those other moms you admire may be total bitches at home when no one is looking. ;)

8:35 AM EST  
Anonymous Valerie said...

I have to admit, Nancy, that I'm a bit relieved. I am glad to know you're (I'm) not so different. And I really appreciate your being brave enough to write about it.

Like SnackMommy, I find myself wanting to hold on to each (good) moment as I realize all too well that they won't come again. But far too often lately (especially since dd turned 3) I find myself sounding like my sisters with their kids (can't remember my mom when I was three, LOL). When dd was little (or before she was born), I'd listen to them yell at their kids and swear I would be different. But when dd was younger, it was much easier to say "she's just one" and realize that she was going through childhood phases and not get too upset. Lately, though, she can be very rational, helpful, adult-like at times, which makes it harder to take the true 3-yr-old times. Like you, I try to remind myself that she is only 3, but (since it's our first time through this stage) I'm not sure just what 3 should be like. And when we're struggling to get out the door in the morning, it can be very hard not to blow up.

I suspect that most fertiles and non-fertiles are very alike here (not counting the ones we've all seen who just shouldn't be parents). We all screw up and feel badly. Unless you have a vocation as an early-childhood worker (and I've known forever that I don't!), I can't imagine having the necessary patience to always keep your cool. And probably they don't always, either.

As far as a mantra goes, I think your last line is perfect: "they are only three".


11:55 AM EST  
Anonymous carolann said...

hmmmm......I think those perfect mothers that you see, that are oh so patient and tolerant are not ALWAYS like that! They can't be, can they???
I am Early Childhood Educated....can be a great preschool teacher BUT those are not my children!! I also yell (a lot) and get frustrated! ( I also have a 3 year old, and a 6 and a 7 year old)
I conceived them au-naturelle, and am very conscious as to how lucky we were to be able to do so...but I still lose my cool. Ease up on yourself, nobody is perfect, even though some would like you to believe so!! You are a brave and special mom and you are great, just keep doing the best you can. Thats all anybody can ask...even the two 3 years olds!!

8:09 PM EST  
Anonymous twinmomplusone said...

Just last Thanksgiving morning, the kids all woke up and ended up in our bed. Hubby was explaining that today was a special day "I'm not going to work today" all 3 kids said "we're not going to school today" and my son looks at me and says "and mom won't be screaming today!" GASP! I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. Is that how my kids perceive me? I was devastated, mortified, horrified. Since then, whenever I'm about to loose it or have already lost it, this comes back to haunt me. Plus a lot of my childhood memories about my mother involve her screaming at me and I still hold a grudge against her for some of it. And I hate catching myself be like my mother taht way.

Having both au naturel and IVF kids, I can't say that we parent them any differently, as already alluded to, all kids are unique and the disciplining style kind of has to suit every one individually. I remember guilt with dd#1 but mostly from me working out of the house so much and missing so much of her firsts. The remorse/guilt seems to be differnt (worse) with the twins. Why? Not sure. I sometimes feel like such a failure as a SAHM, I shouldn't be stressed, I'm where I wanted to be. My dream came true. So how come that dream ain't all peachy rosy? How come its SO hard some days to take care of 3 just turned 4 twins and add to taht a pre-teen with hormones starting to set in? It's that out of control feeling that gets to me the most.

As one twin mom to another, I have to admit that I always envied your parenting skills and was in awe of how much you did/do with your boys. You are providing them with such a rich life and I am certain that you are the center of their universe, yelling and all.

As for those placid moms with that perpetual happy grin on their faces who have it all under control, I keep thinking on how they must have a few neuron synapses malfunctioning, can't be normal, right? They always remind me of the Rolling Stones song "Mommy's Little Helpers"..the pills moms in the 50's used to take to help them cope with it all.

Remember Nancy, there are no perfect moms!

9:31 PM EST  
Blogger palefella said...

It's a fair question you're asking. I had m'boy by natural means, but I also feel I was incredibly lucky to fall pregnant (41 years old, a lifelong smoker, ridiculously irregular periods all my life, always slightly overweight and not exactly a healthy eater....could I have stacked the odds against myself any further?). So I'm lucky, really lucky.
When I was reading this entry I so clicked in to what you were saying. I feel like a crumb when I get impatient with my 2 year old. I think every parent goes through this emotion. Whatever course of action you had to take to get pregnant and birth, the result is this miracle, and I for one feel as if I'm being so unspeakably ungrateful when I catch myself getting snippy or shouting at him for not doing as he's been asked to do five times already.
In the end, we are human. A child turns your life priorities upside down and the compromises we need to make to meet our responsibilites to that child every other second of the day are ENORMOUS. Every parent knows how much they have given up for their child, and we like to think that we're happy to do so, but still it is a huge ask for any person. Getting snippy, shouting in frustration, getting annoyed and feeling guilty, who can blame us?
Plus, you know what? In just the same way as it's good to let your child let out his frustratoins and show his/her anger from time to time, it's good for us too! Our children are going to come face to face with people who oppose their will and get angry at them all their lives.....mums and dads are inevitably going to be two of those people.

6:46 AM EST  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

Being "fertile" (despite what 2 doctors said), I can say I feel your pain with the yelling and angry days. I can't speak from any other perspective than my own, but I hate days like that. And at the end of it all, I hug my kids, tell them I made a mistake in yelling, and I am sorry. Of course, being a recovering type A, I have to calm down myself first. Thankfully, the days are getting fewer--probably because I only have one in the Terrible 2s and no one is a teenager yet. But you have to forgive yourself and work on a plan--I ask my kids for help in their behavior so that we can all have a pleasant day together.

1:01 PM EST  
Blogger SRH said...

I find myself becoming shorter tempered with my Little Man (au natural), but I think some of this has to do with his growing comprehension and understanding. He does so many things amazingly well, and he is cognitively expanding by leaps and bounds. It is difficult to really have a firm grasp on where he is cognitively due to this rapid expansion.

These cognitive leaps lead to the frustration. In some instances he understands what we are asking him to do, but in others he does not. That is part of the issue, because there may not be any difference in the level of understanding required, in our minds, and these instances charge with the days of the week.

The other issue that we are running up against is his pushing of limits. It is entirely age appropriate for him to test boundaries and limits (he is coming up on 2 and a half. This process of testing limits, is by definition, is a tiring and frustrating one.

I think the mantra "he is only 2" is the most helpful thing for me through this.

Great post. Great question

9:19 AM EST  
Blogger DaniGirl said...

I started to comment on this, then I started to blog a response to this, then I gave up.

Everyone else said it better than I was saying it anyway - I think it's the kids and not how they're conceived that provide the unique challenges and joys, although I do think infertility adds an extra layer of mommy-guilt because you never forget that hollow feeling of emptiness you felt when contemplating life without children.

We are all entitled to bad days, and good days. You are one of the best moms I know, and that has nothing to do with fertility or infertility and everything to do with your brain and your heart - both of which are golden.

1:51 PM EST  

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