Monday, August 8, 2011

The Truth About Kids

Okay, so my thoughts on family have been deemed blogworthy by a couple of people. Keep in mind that this was never intended as a blog post. It was a frank response to a dear, dear friend on the question of whether or not she should engage in the trial of procreation. She asked my opinion because, and I quote, "You are not one of those 'you have to have babies to be a whole person' freaks."

(And make no mistake about it. I am NOT. Every person's journey is different. Children don't complete you. Neither does marriage. IMO, you should be complete before you engage in either of those things, albeit with room for growth.)

Here are my thoughts, with names eliminated to protect the innocent:

Holy crap, Dear Friend. I can give you an opinion on procreation but the only person qualified to know if you should have kids or not is YOU. After you have one. Because the thing is, you might be one of those people who falls head over heels in love with the little peanut when it gets here.

I can tell you in all honesty I would have been fine without them. I luuuuuurve mine and I don't regret having them or anything like that, but the day in/day out quality of my life definitely turned south. Things I hate:

  • Having to plan ahead for a week to go out to dinner instead of deciding at 6 pm that I don't feel like cooking.
  • Having to bring my A game for every Halloween, birthday, Christmas, whatever.
  • "running to the store to pick up milk" requires that I dress myself and TWO OTHER PEOPLE (term used loosely), one of whom still requires help with the seat belt, herd them through the door while they jockey for position to be the one who gets to open the door and then they race to the car to see who can be first and THEN they start yelling at each other and don't stop until we get back home.
  • Carseats.
  • Feeling guilty every time I turn on the TV so I can get something done.
  • I never go to the bathroom by myself. Ever. And Princess likes to hand me toilet paper.


  • When one of them says I'm the best mom ever. Boy, have I got them snowed.
  • Being able to tell them things like, "No, Mama didn't toot. This is a magical couch and it toots by itself," and watch them try to figure out if that could possibly be true.
  • When That Boy I Married gets home from work and they both drop whatever they're doing and yell, "DADDY! DADDY'S HOME! DADDY! DADDY!"
  • When they sleep.
  • When Pirate comes to find me and says, "Mama? I just wanted to give you a hug and a kiss."

The other thing to consider, and it's an icky thing, is how you feel about a child with special needs. We wouldn't have been thrilled to find out one of ours would be Down's, for example, but we knew that we would still raise it. And there are other things that are subtler, like a gifted child, that still require more parental involvement than your average bear. You can't ditch a gifted kid with a nanny. They totally know what you're up to and they will figure out how to force you to pay attention to them.

I know that there are moms out there who really love doing the school christmas parties, taking kids to the park, setting up trips to museums and aquariums and hikes and scouts and all that crap. I am not one of them. I only do that stuff because I have to and even then, I don't do it much. I feel guilty all the time because MY kids are totally getting shortchanged. 

And the fear is awful. I have these panic attacks about stuff I have zero control over, like what if one of them has Alport's- my weird kidney thing? What if one of them does something insanely normal, like drive drunk when they're a teenager, and they get hurt or killed? Or worse, hurt or kill somebody else? What if one of them has an addiction? Addiction fear affects EVERY SINGLE DECISION I make. My kids don't get benadryl. I won't even consider ADD meds despite the three teachers and two pediatricians who thought Pirate needed them. (Screw them. I know what he needs and he's doing great without the meds. And two years in a row he smoked every kid in his class on standardized testing.) What if Pirate's girlfriend is 17 when he's 18 and her daddy finds out what they're up to and Pirate ends up on the sex offender registry for statutory rape? OMIGOSH! Is that a tick bite? What if one of them gets Lyme disease?

Your lifestyle will be less appealing than it is now. Being closer to your family when you have kids is a huge luxury because the only people you will trust to love them the way you do is a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. Bangkok, any of the -stan countries, Africa, all those places will become bigger and scarier. Yes, we all know bad things can happen anywhere but living in a third world country where you are a political target is going to suck.

And if you think you have a hard time keeping up with your car keys now, honey, let me tell you. Getting kids in and out of cars without slamming little fingers or letting one of them strangle the other or letting the dog out while you're coming in and HOLY SHIT you have to pee because you couldn't go to a public restroom with a 7 year old boy but you couldn't leave him alone outside while you went... I defy anyone to remember where they left their keys under those circumstances.

On the other hand, Princess is hugging my neck right now, while I type.

Here's the thing. For somebody like me, quality of life goes down. There is no spontaneous any more. That Boy I Married and I did not spend a night alone with each other, without a child, for a year and a half after Pirate was born. (He slept in his room, we weren't the nutjobs who kept the baby in our bed, but you sleep with one eye open all the time while visions of SIDS dance behind your eyelids.) 

The payoff takes a while to kick in. Pirate was one before I began to enjoy him. And the payoff is so...metaphysical. I can't tell you one thing I'd like to do with my day that is centered around my kids yet everything I do with my day is centered around my kids. But I'm glad they're here. 

My house is trashed, I don't remember the last time I put on make-up, I'm suffering PTSD from the noise fatigue of three kids last night at dinner time (ours plus a neighbor), and summer vacation is killing me.

But still, I had the second one on purpose. I can't tell you why, so I made the slideshow.

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