Monday, June 29, 2009

Difficult conversation, difficult decisions

My husband and I had a conversation tonight about the guardianship of our children should something happen to us. It's a subject I hate to even ponder (especially with my raging hormones) because the very thought... I can't bear it. But I also know that we've been terribly remiss in not making sure we have things ironed out legally, so if the unthinkable did happen, the transition would be as smooth as it could be.

For a long time we assumed that our best friends would take our kids. In many ways, they are still a great option. We're all very close, our boys adore their two boys, adore them, they live literally right next door... Lots of reasons to choose them. But we both have to admit there are a few concerns making us question whether that would be the best place for our kids - particularly concerns about the wife, L. L is certainly one of my closest friends, but in a strange sort of "you're basically my sister, so I'm stuck with you rather than having chosen you" way. I love her dearly, but there are things about her that drive me crazy and things that make me wonder what kind of a mother figure she'd be to my kids. My husband and I are both worried that our kids would grow up feeling like a burden. I don't question whether the husband, A, loves my kids - I do question whether L does. Sometimes I catch something in her tone or in her eyes that makes me feel like she thinks my boys are, I don't know... annoying, maybe. I'm worried that, if I'm not imaginging it, my kids would pick up on it and never feel truly loved, truly at home.

I'm also concerned because L has never made any attempt to hide the fact that she does not want a girl. Part of the reason they stopped at two kids was because of her reluctance to chance having a girl. I'm sure that wasn't the only reason, and probably not even the most important. But she thinks little girls are all annoying drama queens. I also happen to believe that there's a big part of her that doesn't want the pressure of being the primary role model for a same-sex child. She likes the idea of having the option of sending the kids to daddy when questions get awkward as they grow up. Being a mom has been a great growing experience for her, especially because she stays home full time, but there's still a part of her that doesn't like being the one in charge, being the place where the buck stops. If she has boys, I think she feels that more of the responsibility for how they turn out can fall on her husband's shoulders; with a girl, she'd have to take more of that responsibility on herself and that scares her.

So here I am, about to have a girl (I think), and I have to ask - if something happened to us, is the best place for my daughter with a woman who doesn't want a daughter at all? I really don't know. Perhaps she'd let go of that piece of herself and embrace my daughter whole-heartedly. She's a good person; it isn't like she's a complete selfish bitch. But still, it's a worry.

Our other obvious option is my mom and stepdad, but it's telling that when we talk about it we only refer to my mom. My stepdad is a good guy, but he's not the best at being a father. He's an awesome grandpa, but it's a lot easier to be an awesome grandpa than an active father. I think if my mom had custody of them, she would do 99% of the parenting stuff; he'd be around a little for that, but not much. Our daughter certainly wouldn't have a strong father figure in her life, whereas with our friends she would. But there's no question in my mind that all our kids would be loved and taken care of well. There are things about that possibility that aren't ideal either (their age, the length of time its been since they had kids of their own at home, the amount of time they both have to travel for work, etc.). But I also think that if we were gone, and they had our kids, they'd do everything to make it work and always make the best interests of our kids their priority.

I also need to bring up to my husband the possiblity of my brother. I'm not sure we should discount him, although he's not the obvious choice. He's single, for one thing. He won't necessarily always be single, and certainly his choice of wife could change our decision. It would be a major adjustment for him to make, going from being on his own to raising three kids. It might be too much, really. But he loves them so much and he'd be a great father to his own kids (and I hope he'll get to be someday). I'm not sure, but the thought occurred to me that he might be an option, so I'll have to see how my husband feels about it.

The hardest part is knowing that there aren't any great scenarios. None of these options are US. No one else would ever do as good of a job raising our kids as we will, because no one are us. No one else would do things exactly the way we do, or would love them they way we do. I'm literally in tears as I write this, but I'm making myself finish because I know it's something we need to figure out, something we need to face in order to do right by our kids. Obviously my greatest hope is that these decisions never, ever matter. But it would be worse to leave our kids without a firm direction if we were gone, leave it to become a potential fight between the people who think they should have them. It needs to be clear cut and in writing so we don't have to worry about what would happen if we're not there to protect them.

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