Friday, September 3, 2010

How much do I love you? Not that much.

Some of you might be aware of the very sad case of Jani's Journey. Long story short: the older child is very mentally ill and about eight years old. In order to avoid sending her into residential care, the parents live in two different apartments. The mother lives in one with the younger son, whom Jani attacks. The father lives in the other with Jani.

I do not think that I would do that for my child.

If one child attacked one of the others, I wouldn't put the family into two separate apartments. I just don't love my kids that much.

In fact, I dont' love them enough to do a lot of things, as my daughter sometimes reminds me:
- I don't love them enough to let them watch Spiderman before bed.
- In fact, I don't love them enough to mother after 7:30 p.m. That's when mummy goes off duty, and if you're going to be up all night you're getting very subpar mummy.
- I don't love them enough to be a natural birth. I know that there's a lot of debate about whether natural birth is better or not, but my answer is: I don't care. Unless an epidural is very, seriously, dangerous to me or the kid, I'm getting it. Causes baby to be born drowsy? Makes labour longer? Couldn't care less.
- I don't love my son enough to let him wear a Spiderman t-shirt to all occasions.
- I don't love my kids enough to explain to him why he can't wear a Spiderman t-shirt to all occasions. If he doesn't get it yet, he's not going to.
- I don't love them enough to pay full price for their clothes. If you want full-price clothes, you have to reliably wear them for more than five minutes.
- I don't love them enough to let them self-wean. I tried once, and the kid went so long I was going to be nursing three. I don't love my kids enough to nurse three kids at once. Now I start working towards weaning at two.
- If you spend two straight weeks screaming at the top of your lungs, I will still hold you, cuddle you, rock you, swaddle you, clean your butt and bathe you. But until you stop screaming, I won't like you that much. I don't love you enough to be immune to your behaviour -- whether or not that behaviour is your fault.

I guess I love my kids. But I'm not head-over-heels in love with them.


  1. It's a good thing I believe in "You don't get more than you can handle" because then you'll be fortunate not to have a child with intense needs like that. It's not easy. It's very, very hard. You just have to put yourself aside for the sake of your family. (If you think residential care only affects the child you put in care, then you don't know any children in care.)

    Thankfully, we haven't hit that point, but we've been close. So far. Things may change at puberty, that's when the worst usually hits, with kids like mine...

  2. Well, having had family who have had to be placed in residential care, I can tell you that you are 100% wrong.

    At certain times, the best thing a person with "problems" needs is dedicated medical practitioners giving the person care, which no matter how loving parents are, is not up to the same ability.

    It sounds more like to me, you view having to put a child in care as a personal failure of your own and aren't interesting in looking at the damage it does to the rest of the family to not institutionalize an ill child.

  3. @ Kibbles: If my kids are low needs because G-d knows I can't cope with more, he's almost definitely right and I'll go with that. We all have our limitations. I know I'm not capable of managing a child who attacks the other children. I admire people who have better coping skills than I do.

    FWIW I have been close to people who used residential care for their family member and have not had the experience you've had.