Wednesday, February 8, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin has me thinking

I am flying through the novel We Need To Talk About Kevin and think it will make for an excellent discussion at book club next month.  This book is giving me much to ponder about having children.

One thing I've thought about is how D reminds me a little bit of Eva.  I think D is a far nicer, less hard-to-live with person than Eva, but the way in which they are similar is their feelings toward children.  D loves our kids--no question--but sometimes I wonder if he would have been happier if we had remained childless or only had one child.  Or maybe it is simply that his tolerance level for children's antics is less than mine, just as Eva's tolerance is different from Franklin, who was the one who really wanted a child.
(This is probably more the case; when I speak to my mom friends they all usually say their husbands can handle much less of the children than they can.)

When we married D and I were on similar tracks---neither of us was interested in having children within 5 years, and we thought we'd only want one if we did have a child.  But one of us changed, and that was me.  (In truth, I think I was a classic case of "the lady doth protest too much."  Perhaps I truly wanted a family but was just so, so scared of what that would mean for me emotionally, physically and financially.)

Almost immediately after having N, I felt I wanted 3 children.  My breakdown followed in the year after her birth, so for awhile I wasn't thinking about other kids...I just wanted to get my head back together.  But by the time N was 2.5 years old, I was healthy and ready for another kid.  I think because D really loves me and really hates arguments, he agreed.  M was a surprise, but we'd already had the talk about having a 3rd, and while I was on-board for another one when G was around 3, D was more than ready to take the possibility off the table.  The funny thing is that M, the baby he was definitely not onboard with having, is the child who most reminds D of himself.

Another thing this book is making me think about is how much of a child's personality comes from his/her parents' perceptions of that child.  At the moment, and for quite a while, G has been our challenging child.  He is a super kid, but he is just more of a challenge for both me and D than the other two.  Reading about Kevin makes me wonder about what he is really like outside of Eva's perception of him, from birth until now and how much of her behavior towards him influenced the type of relationship he has with her.  They say that a depressed mother can have a huge impact on their child's development, and I would certainly classify Eva as having had postpartum depression, as well as a few other mental health issues thrown in for good measure.

This book furthers my belief that everyone could stand a good year of therapy, especially the people who squawk the loudest about not needing it or thinking it wouldn't help them. 

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