Sunday, February 7, 2010

then and now

I often hear people who have children talk about how becoming parents has given them a different glance on their childhood. It has helped them see their own parents in a new light and understand their decisions with a new, much more forgiving appreciation than they had before. As a budding psychologist, this one is interesting to me for obvious reasons: the dynamic nature of family relationships, the change that occurs from an internal shift in perception brought on by new experiences, idealizing youth versus middle aged realism.

Infertility has thrown an interesting twist in that particular narrative for me. Years of therapy and maturing into my thirties have helped me a great deal to be more forgiving towards those folks who raised me. Still, I mean, it did take a LOT of therapy to get here. In terms of raising a family, I was pretty much banking on doing it better than they did. Not that it's a competition. But in a way maybe it was a bit of point of pride for me. In their ignorance and self-preoccupation, those two had limited understanding of child development and parenthood. And it appears in my efforts to right the wrongs of the past, I wanted to raise children in a way that was healthy. I armed myself with quite a lot of knowledge in this pursuit. I'm almost a child psychologist, for crying out loud.

But it doesn't work like that (and yes, I AM admonishing myself here). Having my own children was not ever going to fix what happened then. Sadly, nothing can.

I am left however, with a sense of great emptiness with regards to this particular question. Of course failed infertility treatments leave one with a sense of great emptiness regardless, but with regards to moving beyond my own childhood, I always thought having my children would be a critical piece. I don't necessarily think I was planning on using my children to heal from childhood experiences, just that parenthood would be healing in and of itself.

But parenthood has not been ruled out, even if biological children have been.

And maybe the wrongs don't get righted, but a new understanding and deeper forgiveness for one's parents comes with parenthood. I don't know that yet, but I hope so.

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