How does this rate on your weirdometer or is it me? (long); More info post 4, 13 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was adopted, and about 3 yrs ago, I was given the contact info for my birth mother. She lives about 1 hr. away from me. After 2 yrs of stressing and obsessing about what could possibly go wrong, I dropped a letter in the mail last February.

She called me right away, and in the course of the conversation, she said something to the effect that she didn't blame me for taking so long to contact her (born 1964), and she assumed I must have valid reasons. Huh? We exchanged email addresses, and most of our contact has been via email since.

Early on, she asked me what I hoped to get out of the relationship, and I said something about how I wanted to know about my history and her and her life, and I maybe at some point meet her . . . She has never
acknowledged that I made that remark, although we've continued to email. It's pretty superficial (I'm on her "forward" list), but she always writes "I love you."

She has never asked to see pictures or meet, but she's talked openly about my birth father, their relationship, and her family. She has no other children, her parents and her only brother are deceased, and she has 5 neices/ nephews.

Last April, I had a baby, and I sent her pictures. Sher never acknowledged the pictures, although she did congratulate me. We've continued to exchange email, but she didn't acknowledge my birthday, or my two other kids', all in August.

Meanwhile, my life has pretty much turned upside down, my marriage fell apart amidst horrible drama, my two older kids are really struggling with emotional/physical/health issues, etc. It just felt weird to have a relationship with the person who gave birth to me and keep her in the dark about what's going on. So, I sent her an email in October, without going into detail, saying that I had a lot going on: going through a divorce, dd hospitalized (didn't give the reason, but it was a psych admission), ds was having school trouble (again, no details). I said things were starting to fall back in place and get better (not true, but I didn't want to be too negative), except my cat had giardia.

So she leaves me a voicemail, mentioning nothing about my woes, just saying that her dogs had tested positive for giardia, and she's been breeding them for years (conformation shows and the works) and never had it, and did I know if there was some new test that was causing false positives? Um, huh? Why would I know or care?

She sent me an email later, sympathizing a bit about the divorce and kids, but then asking again about the giardia.

Honestly, I don't have time or room in my life for this kind of crap. We're stuck at some level that I just don't do in relationships -- all of my friends and family are either really close to me, or fall by the wayside. The only casual relationships are people I see every day, but I don't go out of my way to maintain them.

Any insight as to what's going on? Is she stuck on some superficial level because going any deeper is too hard? Or is she waiting for some clearer signal from me that I want to get closer? Or is she just odd? Or am I? And what should I do? I am so non-confrontational, but should I try to force the issue? What should I say or do without possibly hurting her feelings to try and move to the next level. Or should I just keep it at this level? Or just let it fade away?
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#2 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 09:08 AM
 
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i don't know. but it sounds weird.
well, it sounds like she doesn't want to get emotionally involved. It could be painful for her, or maybe she's just odd like that.
I think you need to go with your gut on this.
If you feel that you want to get deeper with her, then just say so. write her an email saying how you feel. Then it's up to her.
If you're happy how it is, then leave it be. But I suspect if that were the case, you wouldn't be asking.
Likewise, if you want to let it fall by the wayside, then do that too. I'd probably send an email explaining briefly that it is your intention to back off a bit.

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#3 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 09:13 AM
 
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What were her reasons for giving you up? Has she ever said?

I'm wondering if she just isn't interested in kids, hence her not really treating you like a daughter or taking an interest in your children. The fact that she never had more is a bit telling, in a way. She sounds like an "animal" person who just doesn't *get it* when it comes to kids and family. She may be a bit "off" as well. I completely and totally do not think it is YOU though. I think it is HER.

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#4 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I edited this part out, cuz it was so long.

This was 1964. She was not a typical young mom for those days. She was 28, and my dad was 38. He wouldn't marry her, but she tried to keep me. Her parents put a lot of pressure on her, and she couldn't do it. She put me up for adoption when I was less than one month old. I thought under the circumstances (most of which I knew before I contacted her) that it might have been really traumatic and she might have a really hard time. But it was an open adoption (which was not quite so open as those nowadys), and she did start out returning my contact pretty quickly, so I thought at first she was pretty eager for contact.

She told me she was close to her neices and nephews, so I don't think she dislikes children.
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#5 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 09:33 AM
 
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Did you ever ask her what she wanted out of resumed contact?

She may just figure taht you'll go to your adoptive parents for support on the usual things that mothers are supportive of (or that we wish they were supportive of, heh)... and just keeping the relationship casual?

I guess really teh only way to know for sure would be to ask her about it, eh?

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#6 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Did you ever ask her what she wanted out of resumed contact?

She may just figure taht you'll go to your adoptive parents for support on the usual things that mothers are supportive of (or that we wish they were supportive of, heh)... and just keeping the relationship casual?

I guess really teh only way to know for sure would be to ask her about it, eh?
No, I'm not very direct myself, which is why I ask here first. I hate putting people on the spot, but I inferred from her first conversation that she was not one for superficial chit-chat, which is why I feel we've veered off track in what both of us expected.

Ugh . . . asking her directly. I suppose I should, but . . .
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#7 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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It doesn't sound abnormal among the mothers I know and know of . . . it seems like reunion can be like a complicated dance with neither person really knowing quite where to step to avoid the other person's toes.

I would believe that she loves you and that losing you was absolutely traumatic. I know a mom who lost her daughter in a somewhat open adoption in the sixties, and the openness didn't mean that she was any less coerced or any less impacted by her loss.

If you need and want more from her, I think it would be appropriate to say so. She may not know if what you said in an initial conversation is something you still want, you know? If she knows what you want and still doesn't step up, then I would think it a bit weird, but not until then.

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#8 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 10:01 AM
 
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She sounds guarded.

She sounds as if she has no real emotional connection with herself. My FIL is like this, what you described is almost exactly how his relationship with my Dh is like. And HE raised him!
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#9 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 10:09 AM
 
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1. she's very guarded. it must be really frightening for her to be faced with the reality of the child she had to give up at birth, after a lifetime of coping mechanisms to deal with the loss.

2. she is not a "mom", so she has not had any experience with parenting skills. Nurturing does not necessarily come naturally to everyone and if she has had a traumatic past and no opportunity to develop that skill, perhaps she just doesnt know how.

I dont mean to be "defending" her behavior....I'm jsut guessing as to the reasons.

And you know, some people just dont have tactful, nurturing people skills. That's a possibility.

But I know you must feel lost right now. You have SO MUCH going on in your life and telling her about it *could be* cathartic for you, if the response was warm and comforting. But my advice is to do your best to separate your emotional life from your relationship right now. It sounds like it's just Too Much, Too Soon. For both of you.

Do you have family to support you right now? I feel for all you are going through. Hugs.
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#10 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 10:17 AM
 
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Maybe, she just doesn't know what to say, or feels really out of place commenting on "mothering" issues. Maybe she fears that if she spoke up with comments or advice that you might say "what do you know, you aren't a mother" or something like that, ykwim?

I definitely think *she* is acting strange, but there are so many possible reasons why.

I think I would ask her straight up what is going on, tell her what you hope for in a relationship and see if she is willing to do that.


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#11 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 10:21 AM
 
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i dont know how old she is (my guess would be beyond childbearing yrs atleast) - and im sure this theory will piss some ppl off - but my mom has this theory that there is a certain type of person that was never meant to have children and not having done so, once they reach a certain age and probably never had to put another person first in their lives, they are so self absorbed with their own lives and the things that most of us would consider trivial (not even necessarily in a bad way, but just by default). my dad has 2 sisters like that, neither had kids, and oddly enough both obsess over their dogs as if they are children (to the point where one once equated the death of a dog to my mothers stillborn birth and miscarriage). even at holidays it has often happened that things did not turn out exactly as one had planned or someone did not have the exact reaction to something and one or both of them would practically throw a tantrum. Now i am making them sound quite crazy, but mind you they are both married, carry on normal lives, with good jobs and friends etc. Our theory is that they dont really even get is, that is their normal and their lives are centered around themselves and their dogs and (sometimes...) their husbands. they cant fathom putting a child first, and make comments to me (not even in a mean way, but quite matter of factly) that of course now that my dd has teeth that i wouldnt even think of putting my boob in her mouth anymore

I wouldnt take it personally.....she probably doesnt know how to respond to you or your needs or how to give you the support you or most of us would expect from someones biological mother. I am not sure how your relationship with your adoptive parents is or was, but it kinda seems like she really did make the best decision, knowing that she may not have had the nurturing or comunication skills needed to properly raise and support a child.

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#12 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 10:24 AM
 
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She sounds like my mother and my mother raised me. I am sorry our havign to go through this ... I know it has to be hard to deal with this .... ((((HUGS))))
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#13 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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But I know you must feel lost right now. You have SO MUCH going on in your life and telling her about it *could be* cathartic for you, if the response was warm and comforting. But my advice is to do your best to separate your emotional life from your relationship right now. It sounds like it's just Too Much, Too Soon. For both of you.
Sorry to dribble out info. I have a tendency to overthink things. Here's the thing -- I feel very respectful of the difficulty of putting a child up for adoption. I'm sure birth mothers have many regrets, and I'm pretty guarded too in the sense that I really don't want to just spill to her, because I don't want her to feel in any way responsible for my problems.

I guess what I hoped would happen was that we would gradually get closer to the point where we could move forward without dwelling on the past. I have two siblings that have connected with birth parents, and they both have built a relationship. I just never anticipated being in a place where we would have frequent but totally superficial contact. It's very difficult for me to maintain, but I don't want to just cut her out unless that's what she wants. But since she's never "bitten" at any of the attempts I've made to move things forward, I feel awkward about trying to get closer.
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#14 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 06:11 PM
 
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I guess what I hoped would happen was that we would gradually get closer to the point where we could move forward without dwelling on the past. I have two siblings that have connected with birth parents, and they both have built a relationship. I just never anticipated being in a place where we would have frequent but totally superficial contact. It's very difficult for me to maintain, but I don't want to just cut her out unless that's what she wants. But since she's never "bitten" at any of the attempts I've made to move things forward, I feel awkward about trying to get closer.
I thought of two things when I read this...
1. How old were the other birth parents when they adopted their children out? I could imagine a very different psychological response if you are 16 and giving up a child, then if you are 28, and decide that you can't keep the child you want. In a way, I think there would be even more guilt and blame if you are 28 and giving a child up for adoption, and there is less time to recover and have another family and move on. My gut says it was an incredibly traumatic experience and it doesn't seem like she has recovered from it.

2. It sounds like she was trying to connect with you from a place she felt comfortable and where your interests intersected, animals. She may not know what to say about your relationship or parenting. To you it seems superficial, but to an dog person, it's not. Most dog people I know don't realize that the rest of the world doesn't hold pets in such high regard or put them so central in their lives.

I think you really need to either ask her what she wants, or tell her what you want, or both.
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#15 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 06:20 PM
 
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Some people are just socially inept in all their relationships. No matter how casual or deep my relationship to someone, I know that if they tell me their life is falling apart, I do not sieze on the one detail that may help me out and continue to badger them for information (as with your cat). It's not appropriate and it's insulting. Some people just never really get it. It may have nothing to do with her relationship to you or her desired depth of relationship, she may just not have a real grip on social appropriateness.
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#16 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 06:58 PM
 
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I wonder if maybe she had little idea what to say about your other issues which you told her were all improving except for your cat. Since she has a great deal more experience with animals perhaps she felt she could give helpful advice regarding your pet to help ease one worry for you.

In your original contact you didn't really indicate you wanted much of a personal relationship. It sounds like she has responded to you openly about her life and history like you asked but maybe it is hard to take the next step without meeting in person. Maybe she is feeling you don't want more and scared to get too personal for fear that you will reject her. You sound like you are a bit guarded with her too.

I don't think it was weird. I think you guys are just having trouble connecting and need to revisit what you both want out of this contact at this point.

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#17 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 07:04 PM
 
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To be honest, I think it sounds like a normal relationship in the reunion-aspect. It isn't usually like you see on Oprah - where everyone is just so overwhelmed with joy.

It sounds like she is really guarded and trying to stay to subjects that are within her comfort zone. Your kids (and the idea that you have kids) could just bring up really painful memories for her.

I am really sorry that you are trying to let her in more and she is somewhat re-buffing you. I know how painful that can be. And how it sort of chews on you for a long, long time. And how, at some point, you wonder if it is even worth it to keep trying, when you are putting a lot of emotional investment into it and seemingly getting nothing in return.

I do think some people just aren't nurturers - but that isn't necessarily the case here. Many people are great nurturers who don't have kids.
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#18 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 07:08 PM
 
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She sent me an email later, sympathizing a bit about the divorce and kids, but then asking again about the giardia.
This scenario to me sounds like she felt like she had something knowledgeable/helpful/parent-y to say about the giardia, but was clueless about the other problems and while she didn't want to be unsupportive, only had any clue how to respond to the giardia problem. So trying to help with the one thing she had an idea about.

Being "close" to a couple nieces and nephews isn't anything like raising a child. There's an owner of a local pet food/accessories store that is like this - she doesn't have any children but has had dogs/cats/horses her whole life. She can't even start to have a conversation about kids. Totally clueless, lost, disinterested, etc. It may be that your mother never had an opportunity to explore who she was as a mother, as a nurturer, as a parent, and thus now that she finally has contact with you she still doesn't know how to do those things. I'd guess things would be different if she had gone on to have another child that she was able to keep.

I would keep working on the relationship, since she doesn't seem toxic or weird, just kind of unsure of herself and how to proceed. I would also have a frank and honest and open discussion with her if you're struggling with the relationship remaining as it is now. But you may also find that she just can't provide the kind of parent relationship/bond you hoped for, or thought you'd find once you got started talking.

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#19 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 07:13 PM
 
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I don't have any first-hand experience with adoption, but I couldn't read w/out posting, & I want to say that I think the best advice that you've received is to follow your heart. Follow your heart. Think about what you want the relationship to be and try to take a step towards that. It may sound extreme, but if she were to die tomorrow, would you have any regrets about what you might have done? Unless my math is really bad, she's nearly 72 years old... if there's something that you think that you want to say/do, then please, say/do it. What have you got to loose? An email buddy?

I really hope that you and your birth mother are able to find yourselves in a relationship that you both are comfortable with. And that you have some time to enjoy it.

Good luck to you!
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#20 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 07:37 PM
 
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I agree her interaction with you is stuck on a very basic level. I also agree you don't need that in your life right now.

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#21 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 07:38 PM
 
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She would be... let's see, in her 70's ? I think that, from her perspective, she 'suddenly' has a daughter in her 40's and she has no idea whatsoever how to behave toward you.

My relationship with my mom consists mainly of email forwards, occasional phone calls, and family gatherings, so maybe I'm weird?

The thing with her responding to what you figured was the most inconsequential part of your email is kind of weird, but it does sound like you sort of glossed over the fact that you ARE having a hard time in your email. Maybe she would respond differently if your email said that you were still struggling instead of telling her that everything was 'falling back into place and getting better.'

Does she live near you? If you want to meet her face to face, then I think you should suggest it. I don't think a deep relationship is going to develop by email.

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#22 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This scenario to me sounds like she felt like she had something knowledgeable/helpful/parent-y to say about the giardia, but was clueless about the other problems and while she didn't want to be unsupportive, only had any clue how to respond to the giardia problem. So trying to help with the one thing she had an idea about.
But she didn't -- she wanted to ask me a question. Her dogs tested positive for the first time ever, and she wanted me to talk to my vet about the test used, because she thought it was hyper-sensitive and producing false positives.

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I am really sorry that you are trying to let her in more and she is somewhat re-buffing you. I know how painful that can be. And how it sort of chews on you for a long, long time. And how, at some point, you wonder if it is even worth it to keep trying, when you are putting a lot of emotional investment into it and seemingly getting nothing in return.
So, is she rebuffing? I just thought it was weird that in the first called she "forgave" me for not contacting me sooner, and now she keeps up contact, but mostly forwarding jokes and the like.

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In your original contact you didn't really indicate you wanted much of a personal relationship. It sounds like she has responded to you openly about her life and history like you asked but maybe it is hard to take the next step without meeting in person. Maybe she is feeling you don't want more and scared to get too personal for fear that you will reject her. You sound like you are a bit guarded with her too.
.
My first letter, I followed this sort of script that I got from Adoption Connection, that had some life history without being "needy." But why would she acknowledge the pictures I sent her of my kids? She doesn't even know what I look like.

Anyway, I think there's a lot of truth here and I have to sort through.
Thanks for all your input.
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#23 of 25 Old 01-24-2008, 08:40 PM
 
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Have you exchanged phone numbers? Maybe you could call. I know a lot of folks, even savvy MDC members , have trouble conveying emotion via email. For a 72 yr old woman who didn't come of age with the internet it may be even harder (or maybe she's just weird), but a phone call might take it a step further w/o taking it too far for either of you. It could be she's really insecure about her looks. Maybe she's overweight (I actually typed overweird first ) or only has one ear or has a big hairy mole right on the end of her nose! I have NO EXPERIENCE with anything of this sort, but if I were in your shoes I'd try to take baby steps and move on to the phone and see how I felt after talking in person, but not face to face.

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#24 of 25 Old 01-25-2008, 07:17 AM
 
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I was adopted as a baby
I found my birth mom when I was 23
She was just 16 when she had me

As far as reunions go...until you have met in person you havent exactly re-united imo. Right now you have an email friend...and it is difficult to really get to know someone just on the computer or even the telephone.


Body language is HUGE in communication!!!


Generally:

birth moms are feeling guilty for relinquishing their baby

they are guarded and scared and will let you take things at your own pace

they are worried you hate them and will reject them for "what they did to you"

they dont feel like a parent/mother to you and are un-sure of their role in your life as an adult

other babies just remind them of what they gave up

birthdays are difficult for them to face each year...yet another reminder of all they missed out on



It might help you to take some time to think about exactly what you want from this relationship....write it down...make a list...a wish list...what would be the perfect relationship between the two of you?

then think about...what would have to change to make it happen?
what steps would you have to take?
what would she have to be willing to do differently?

you have to be open and honest with her to get what you want/need out of the relationship.

it takes TIME to do this...and it takes meeting them in person and actually forming your own bond and memories of doing normal things together over the years.

If she is in her 70's already...you might not have much time. not to be pessimistic...just realistic.

when i met my birthmom...i also had the privilege of meeting my grandma and Great grandpa and grandma TOO....since 1993 when I met everyone...I have had 5 birth grandparents/great grandparents and an uncle pass away.

i am just so thankful for the time i had with them and the chance i had to get to know them and in turn grow and discover things about myself I never would have otherwise

feel free to PM me if you have any questions...

and best of luck!!!
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#25 of 25 Old 01-25-2008, 11:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by katie9143 View Post
i dont know how old she is (my guess would be beyond childbearing yrs atleast) - and im sure this theory will piss some ppl off - but my mom has this theory that there is a certain type of person that was never meant to have children and not having done so, once they reach a certain age and probably never had to put another person first in their lives, they are so self absorbed with their own lives and the things that most of us would consider trivial (not even necessarily in a bad way, but just by default). my dad has 2 sisters like that, neither had kids, and oddly enough both obsess over their dogs as if they are children (to the point where one once equated the death of a dog to my mothers stillborn birth and miscarriage). even at holidays it has often happened that things did not turn out exactly as one had planned or someone did not have the exact reaction to something and one or both of them would practically throw a tantrum. Now i am making them sound quite crazy, but mind you they are both married, carry on normal lives, with good jobs and friends etc. Our theory is that they dont really even get is, that is their normal and their lives are centered around themselves and their dogs and (sometimes...) their husbands. they cant fathom putting a child first, and make comments to me (not even in a mean way, but quite matter of factly) that of course now that my dd has teeth that i wouldnt even think of putting my boob in her mouth anymore
Hmmm... I don't think the theory pisses me off ;-) but it's inconsistent with my experience. My favorite cousin never had children. She was 26 when I was born (she was my dad's first cousin), and was at the hospital for my birth. She wanted to be there when my son was born, but was having vision problems that made the drive dangerous... she came to visit us at the house a few days later, though. She's never been clueless or judgemental about any of our parenting choices, and while she freely admits she's not much of one for kids, she also frequently pointed out that our son was an exception, as he just seemed (to her) to be a lot more personable than most toddlers (he was 19 months old when she died). But she was definitely a pet person, first and foremost... one of those "crazy cat ladies" except with a really healthy social life. ;-) Any self-centeredness or inappropriate responses to disappointments she may have displayed can be MUCH more easily explained by extremely crappy parenting than by never having had kids.
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