Monday, January 11, 2010

Mother Knows Best?

 Have you ever noticed that the people with the most knowledge about child-rearing are those who never had a child of their own? I had a maiden aunt and a childless aunt who always were telling my mother what to do about me and my sisters. While raising my two kept children,, my ex-husband's maiden aunt was the reigning expert. It gives meaning to the old insult/adage; "Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach."

While that statement is a bit broad and shouldn't be regarded as true in every situation, it is applicable for many  of us. I notice that those of us who have raised children and those who haven't also have different approaches to reunion.

I had someone object to my previous post where I explained that reunion doesn't fix the damage done to us. That doesn't mean that I think reunion is useless or shouldn't happen. It just means that only an adult human being can "fix" themselves. Looking to a relationship with lost and reunited mothers and children to resolve our issues is unfair on both ends. These relationships have to be built and the blood bond is only the foundation.  I, personally, am glad to learn what happened, even the bad parts, to my children. Living in a fog of conjecture and assumptions planted by the social workers who "counseled" me (many of them, single and childless) was singularly unhealthy. I just don't put all my emotional eggs in the reunion basket.

And for those mothers who were "guided" to surrender by the good sisters of Catholic Charities, have you ever wondered where they got THEIR expertise? I doubt that a group of professional virgins who never walked in our shoes could even begin to understand our experiences and situations. 

I have to stand by my statement, that we have a right to be happy and should never place the responsibility for our happiness on the shoulders of our reunited children or mothers. I don't do that with my raised children, for Pete's sake.

When I was in the giddy first throes of falling in love with my current and forever husband, I had a friend tell me something that applies to this, as well. She said, "Robin, if you were going to embroider a beautiful pillowcase as a wedding gift for someone special, you would choose the pillowcase  made of the finest material possible. You are that pillowcase, beautiful on your own. D******  is the embroidery that adds to the beauty. He does not make you beautiful."

Relationships that place the burden of one's emotional well-being on the acceptance or affection of the other is a co-dependency and unhealthy. If we lean into each other, when one steps back, the other falls. Better to stand upright and hold out your hand to the other. Reunion is rife with the co-dependency landmines, laid there by our own expectations. I know, because I stepped on a few of my own.

So, by all means, pursue a reunion.  In and of themselves, they are a good thing. Just keep a firm rein on your expectations and, if you have raised children, use your instincts.


birthmothertalks said...

Thanks for the reminder. Good post.

Unknown said...

Nice post, My Friend. We each have to row our own canoe, I know, but early in reunion, it is hard to get women to understand that. I really sometimes think that reunion is the enemy of activism, since the mothers are so enraptured by their lost/found children that they can see nothing else, and are fearful that a wrong step, being too assertive or a misspoken word will end the fragile relationship being built. How sad that women are willing, eternally, to put EVERYONE else before themselves.