September 2017

Children

by Amber Whitman

One of my biggest regrets is not having more children. It hits me when I see other people with children around the city. I always thought that I would get married and have a big family. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

I did not expect my first pregnancy, but I wanted the baby. Unfortunately, my boyfriend at the time did not. I was young and did not know anything about raising a child. It was difficult, because I didn’t have much support. Then his father left, and I decided to take birth control to prevent future accidents.

I encountered some problems with my health and family issues over the years. Then I developed an anxiety/panic disorder. It was so bad I never left the house. I could not be left alone because I would have an attack. Add, my little son to the mix and it was a mess. I could not have handled being pregnant, and having another child.

As the years passed, it was something that I thought about, but then dismissed. I was not working, and we struggled at times with bills. My new boyfriend and I went through some rough times and that just sealed my resolve more.

I did not want to have another baby, with the threat of a possible breakup looming. Recently, my neighbor’s just had a baby. We went over to see the baby; she was so small and precious. It took me back to when my son was a baby, with the dark mound of curly hair he had when he was born. Sometimes, I wish he were small again. They are so precious when they are small. Yes, there are other issues like the crying and diaper changes. However, there are also good aspects like that new baby smell that we all joke about.

I told our neighbors to take plenty of pictures and treasure this time, because babies grow up so fast. I remember when my son started kindergarten, and now he is going into grade eight soon. Then he will be starting high school, which will involve a whole new world of challenges.

Now he thinks he knows everything and listens to nothing. You can tell him something one minute and the next he has forgotten. Just like when he was small, he is testing the limits with us. It gets harder as he gets older because discipline becomes harder. My son is getting so tall; he is almost my height now. It is like a war of words now, and then you get the miserable face. I sometimes feel I am too impatient and lenient on him. If he does not do the chores fast enough, I end up doing it for him.

Then there is the fact that he rarely leaves the house. He is completely immersed in video games, television and the computer. He seems to have issues with all the friends he has, and feels they are using him. This summer has been a complete bust and he really did not go out with his friends at all. We seem to have the same conversation every year. He is asked to make plans for the summer, but he never does. Next summer, I will make plans for him. He should be out with his friends, playing sports, making plans and just having fun.

My boyfriend urges me to remember, he will soon be at the stage where he will never be home. He will be out all the time, leaving us to worry about him.

Now that I am older, the issue of more children is a moot point. I am happy I had my son, but I don’t think I could go through the whole process again. I am too old now to think about having more children. Just the thought of it is exhausting!

 

© Amber Whitman

“A gender-equal society would be one where the word ‘gender’ does not exist: where everyone can be themselves.”*

I’ve always been aware of gender conditioning and actively tried to combat any lingering prejudices or stereotypes in my own parenting, even down to encouraging dolls with my boys when they were little. It’s great to read people writing about gender issues they’re experiencing with their kids. For too long these subjects have been discouraged or silenced. I’d love to publish some more creative writing on this topic, especially if you are struggling with a child who actively tries to move away from gender normative preferences. A society where everyone can be themselves thanks Gloria for those aspirational words.

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* Gloria Steinem