Sunday, September 6, 2015

A Shame Story

I've got a confession to make. For a loooooooong period of time, whenever I read articles about how a CNBC could be the "fun, cool aunt" or be involved in various children's lives, I had a mental image of a shrinking Amel who was backing away slowly to the corner of the room, cringing in fear of being judged. "Errr...but I'm not like that!" I thought to myself. 

I never felt really compelled to be involved in other children's lives and I can honestly say I'm almost scared of the thought of having to babysit a young child as I have no idea what I have to do (I'm really not used to being with small children). I feel that I can do better with older children, but even so we've spent so much time being with just the two of us that I'm rusty in that department. I have far more confidence dealing with young adult kids like my husband's elder brother's kids.

The last time we went back to Indo, I felt glad to go back to our hotel room after spending time with my brother and his family (and two kids). I had fun buying them toys and clothes, but I wouldn't volunteer to babysit the kids (for example). I wouldn't volunteer to babysit my friend's kids, either. In fact, I feel awkward when they come for a visit with their smaller children. If the child is already 7+ above, I feel less awkward with him/her.

That said, though, it still fascinates me how much I wanted/longed to be around little children when I was still trying to have a baby (I helped out at a daycare for 3 months back in 2010). I know that one reason for that was to prepare myself for motherhood, but one other reason was the strong need to prove myself that I could also be a decent mother. One other reason was probably more hormonal, because I've noticed a similar thing happening to a friend who's been dying to have a child of her own. Ever since the motherhood dream kicked in, she's been saying that ALL babies are cute and she wants to spend more time around little children. I remember vaguely that during the time I was so into my motherhood dream, I felt more fondness towards many children compared to (for example) these days. These days (after the motherhood dream is buried), I feel more selective fondness towards children (just like I did before we started TTC).

In short, I've never felt like I'm a kiddo lover, though I don't hate them, either. I think some kids are cute, some aren't. I admire (childless) people who love kids and love hanging out with kids (of various ages) and love being involved in various children's lives, but I have to admit that at times I struggled with the feeling of being "less than" those people. At times I wondered if I was lacking something as a woman and human being because I didn't actively choose to do anything much with various children.

For a loooonnngggg period of time I felt this type of shame coming and going. I wonder if the reason I felt this type of shame also had to do with the subconscious message from society that kept on throwing away the "Why don't you just adopt?" line to the infertile in general. I mean, it's as if those who want to have their own children desperately (but can't) should become like Mother Teresa or at least they're expected to do something as equally life-changing for other people's kids. 

My saving grace was remembering something that happened many years ago. You see, one woman I know wasn't that maternal in her younger years compared to her peer, but when she became a working mom, she was so devoted and involved in her children's lives that it took everybody by surprise. When we complimented her and joked that we would never had thought she'd be that maternal, she said, "Well, but it's different when it's your own kids, you know?"

Remembering that story was the first step for me to help me let go of my shame. The second step was inviting my inner BFF for a long, heart-to-heart chat. The third step is publishing this post. :-)


  1. My mother always used to say that. She was never someone who loved other kids. But she always said "it's different when they are your own."

    I also think that feeling comfortable with children often depends on how familiar you are with children (at all, or of a certain age). I never grew up with little kids. I had a little to do with several nieces when they were little, but not often enough to feel comfortable. I figured though that many parents are like that. They "grow up" with their children, becoming familiar with each age group. If we're not around children, we can't do that. I'm much better with children these days after having more to do with them. But still, I feel awkward around children of certain ages, especially if I don't know them.

    1. Oh, how fascinating to know that your mother used to say that. My mom used to say, "Do you think raising kids is nice? It's not all roses, you know? It's hard work."

      Yep, you're absolutely right about feeling comfortable with children. One of the things I had to do was question my irrational thoughts that made me feel shame and then get rid of those thoughts. Actually when I was younger I grew up with a lot of neighbours (both younger and older), but I only played with them (never babysat or anything like that).

      Thanks for your wise words, Mali. :-)

  2. What you & Mali have said. I also think some people feel more comfortable with children at different stages. I have a friend who loves the baby stage & could have one baby after another. Unfortunately, they then become toddlers and she's not so wild about that stage. ;) One of my former bosses did not really like babies & small children, but thought her own sons were fascinating once they got to be 10-12 years old. Dh finds babies frightening but enjoys playing with toddlers and thinks teenagers are dumb. ;)

    1. Thanks for sharing, Loribeth. I've heard lots of stories on how teenagers are challenging (just like me when I was that age LOL), but never really thought about how one isn't so wild about the kids anymore once they're no longer babies/once they turn a certain age. Fascinating! :-)


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