07 November 2008

The Love Elastic

Love is a strange thing. Like an elastic, it can be very tight fitting and compress you in, or it can stretch itself to almost infinity.

I have come across some people who have decided not to have children. And most of them are quite open about their reasons:
- They are too busy in their career to “fit in” the time consuming occupation of looking after another person for the next twenty odd years or so.
- They have done their sums and found that they cannot financially afford providing for another person for the next twenty odd years or so.
- They are having too good a time with their current life and want to experience more of it, without any strings or responsibilities pulling them back.
- They are very cosy in their current relationship and do not want to offset the balance by introducing another element.
- They are terrified of the responsibilities of looking after another person for the next twenty odd years or so.
- They simply do not feel the compulsion to procreate.

For these people, the Love Elastic is very tight fitting.

Though I am the first one to advocate freedom of speech and opinion and to defend the basic respect due to any one’s opinion, even if – especially if – I don’t agree with it, I must say I find these reasons hard to comprehend.

Then there are people who view having children as a natural progression in life, as an extension of the love they share as a couple, as a basic need to filled, as an essential part of what they are. Financial, career and time considerations are put aside, the emotional wealth children may bring to them is brought to the fore.

For these people, the Love Elastic stretches out, a little more as each child comes along, as each child adds more love into the equation.

Cathal’s Mammy was born when I was in my early twenties, followed three years later by her brother. Both of them were very much wanted, even needed. Once I passed 20, the yearning for them took hold of me, and had to be satisfied. Every other aspect of my life was relegated to the back stage, they became the main reason for my life, the explanation, the goal, the fulfilment. Lover just grew and grew with our family.

My most recent discovery is that my own Love Elastic extends to my children’s children, it can keep stretching as it grows stronger. Cathal has made sure of this!

And when the child is born with a little bit extra, like a small chromosome, love seems to strengthen that little bit extra too.

Then they are people who do start the process of having children, but when told before the birth that there may be, or is, a difficulty (such as DS), they balk and decide not to continue. I feel this is a decision that no one can judge, or even comment on, it is too personal. Is it a case that the Love Elastic seem a little too tight, that they fear it might break if stretched that little bit more?

And then there are people who seem to stretch the Love Elastic to what seems improbable infinity. Some weeks back I came across a blog from New Zealand that exemplifies this so well. Picture this:

A couple, Paul and Angela, have child no 1, then no 2, then no 3, “born to them”.
Then they adopt child no. 4, then aged 4 ½ .
Then they adopt child no. 5, Lily, then aged 5 months. Lily has Down Syndrome. Lily is now 20 years old.
Then they have child no. 6, “born to them”.
Then they have child no. 7, Noah, “born to them”. And Noah has Down Syndrome. He is now 9 years old.
And then they adopt child no. 8, Isaac, then aged 9 weeks. And yes, you have guessed it, Isaac has Down Syndrome. He is now 3 years old.

And as if this Super Love Elastic was not stretched enough, this couple also open their home to foster children!

Angela’s blog, Trisomy Tribe, is a day to day record of activities, hopes, fun and general events in this extraordinary family. The accompanying website tells about Lily’s and Isaac adoption, Angela and Lily’s venture into signing at a time where there was not much support for it, and about Noah’s challenges. What strikes me the most is how easy and “normal” day to day life seems to be, how much fun this family has, how loved those children are.

When I read this blog, I always ask myself: now much more love can a human being give? And give so unconditionally?

It seems that the more the Love Elastic is stretched, the stronger it gets. Weird physics!


Anonymous said...

Hi there Nan P. I came across your blog last night when I was reading Angela's. My third child was born in Jan this year and has Down Syndrome, and after reading a few of these blogs by other parents and family members, I was inspired to have a go at my own. You might like to check out my first effort.



PS My mum is a super proud nana too!

Anonymous said...

whoops- forgot address- www.lifewithlukeskywalker.blogspot.com

Lisamaree said...

You have stolen one of my favourite phrases I use when the special parents ask whether to have another child, after one has been born with autism.(autism is genetic and will run in families) In my heart of hearts I know it would be easier and better for the child to have 2 parents all for themselves, but I know how far parental love can stretch without breaking. I just say that if you really really want another child, then that love will stretch to cope with demand.
We have evolved to be that way, so we survive.
(I am delighted that Grandparental love in your case has stretched. In my case the love was non-pliable and had snapped well before the last children had been raised, let alone grandchildren; typical or otherwise)

Nick McGivney said...

Heh heh heh. Our love elastic stretched too far early on. That's what got us into this whole parent lark in the first place!

(Joking! Just my natural need to lower the tone. Lovely post Nan btw. And am delighted to discover Trisomy Tribe. Wow. They're on my Google Reader.)

Unknown said...

Hi Pascale,Eileen D. here.I check your blog each week.It is great to see Cathal`s progress.He looks so cute and so happy!You are doing great at being a super NAN!Say hello to Sylvane and say well done!
Love and hugs