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June 18, 2012 6:58 PM   Subscribe

You’re So Not Almost Ready for a Baby, Even If You Think You Are
posted by chela (143 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I see that Penny, in the comments, believes the author is "going to get some chicken neck for this one." Is that related to turkey neckin'?
posted by mr. digits at 7:05 PM on June 18, 2012


Missed the "You have a plant" thingie. Or perhaps that comes before the dog.
posted by vidur at 7:07 PM on June 18, 2012


I was hoping this would be about a world that's already at 1000% capacity.

But still, by this metric I'm not ready for a baby either.
posted by cmoj at 7:08 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


And yet, the species persists.
posted by Naberius at 7:10 PM on June 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


This kind of humor reminds me of the old "How to Simulate Life in the Navy" that I read on USENET back in the day:
1.1 Buy a dumpster, chip the paint off down to bare metal, paint it gray, and live in it for six months. {Coast Guard simulations use white paint.}

1.2 Run all the piping and the wires inside your house on the outside of the walls.

1.3 Repaint your entire house once a month.
Etc.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 7:11 PM on June 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


Hey guys! Having kids is hard!
posted by Felicity Rilke at 7:12 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


That wasn't terribly funny. But it was true-ish.
posted by wilful at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Psh, your parents managed to do it, and have you met them? They're morons!
posted by shakespeherian at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2012 [69 favorites]


There is a ring of truth to this, but what else to expect? Our "modern" society has forced the norm of just two people to nurture a baby (all-too-often, just one, a single Mom, or Dad).

Humans evolved within small nomadic tribes. Even though those days are gone, it wasn't until very recently that we opted for the "nuclear family", with "nuclear" defined as the smallest unit possible - i.e. completely self-sufficient; 100% mobile (i.e. "let's move to where the jobs/adventure/low housing prices are!; "oh, sure - I'm a good trooper and always ready for job relocation - anything for my employer!") - etc.

Just 100 years ago, before we became so mobile, at least we had the proximity of extended family, or a city/town where we had long-standing friends to help ease the burden of child rearing. (Mind you, some people absolutely love what most consider the stress of solo, or two-person, child rearing - bully for them!). That's not so true, today. It's all about the "nuclear" family unit - with the adults responsible for keeping their jobs; tending to the latest psychological child-rearing "fact" after a 12 hour day at the office, etc. etc.

What used to be a community, or village, activity, has largely become an expensive, stressful, punctuated-with-many-mini-moments-of-sheer-joy-and-photos "experience" that leaves everyone wondering what the hell they just went through, once they come out the other side.

In fact, what used to be an event that introduced a young family into the community, the birth of children has for too-many become an event that isolates them from community.

It does take a village, a "connected" village. We have lots of villages, but lost the connection.

All that aside, I wouldn't trade the experience of child-raising, and what I gained from it, for anything. I just wish it didn't have to be so damned stressful. It doesn't have to be, but we've seen to it that our modern "culture" demands so much of parents that it's a wonder that they - and their kids - come out in one piece.
posted by Vibrissae at 7:17 PM on June 18, 2012 [134 favorites]


You're so not ready for a baby.

But fuck me, look at some of the idiots that do have them. Do you think they were ready? You can beat that.
posted by Artw at 7:18 PM on June 18, 2012 [28 favorites]


I AM 38 WEEKS PREGNANT, YES I AM ALMOST READY
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:19 PM on June 18, 2012 [169 favorites]


"Stand around a tennis court and catch fly balls with one hand for two hours a day while also preparing a peanut butter sandwich."

I truly can not tell you how much better my hand-eye coordination has gotten since I became a parent. Not only can I pluck flying toys out of the air one-handed at awkward, diving angles like an All-Star outfielder, to prevent them from splitting a kid's head open when thrown by another kid, but I can now throw toy trucks -- any size! odd shapes! -- into the truck basket from ANY PLACE IN THE ROOM, left-handed! I can even, when the basket is under furniture, bank them off the furniture lefty in order to get them in the basket.

"Socialize with friends in 18-second increments."

I've said before, and I will repeat, Facebook is a godsend for a stay-at-home parent suffering isolation. It's not as good as real socializing, but it's a damn sight better than sitting at home talking to NOBODY. Plus you can arrange playdates! And nobody can tell that your brilliant comment on the current political situation was composed in 18-second bursts.

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:19 PM on June 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


All of it is true, but you get used to it. What was a pleasant surprise for me was having Kid #2 and finding the adjustment to a new baby to be...easy. Removed from the shock of the new and the nervousness that attends it ("Oh my god she's casting a shadow! Is that normal?"), it's not super-difficult.

But that first time, yikes. It's like being hit by a bus, waking up in the hospital, and having to learn how to walk again. In a good way.

Though, unlike being hit by a bus, I found it totally worth it. I wasn't ready for it, but I didn't fool myself into thinking I was. Much like marriage or gator wrasslin', you gotta do it before you can know you can do it, and hope not to lose an arm.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:21 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Of course, Jarvis Cocker and Pulp make the perfect contraceptive.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:22 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Kudos on the mother-shaming, Jezebel!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:22 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ugh, Tracey Moore's pieces on Jezebel are the worst. They aren't funny, they aren't particularly true...she makes motherhood sound like hell. I have an 8-month-old, and while it's pretty tough sometimes, it's never really as awful as she makes it sound. I don't know why I read them, but I always do.
posted by barnoley at 7:23 PM on June 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


That "best sense of entitlement"? Congratulations, you reproduced. The pinnacle of two billion years of evolution.

Luckily, most of my friends who have kids do not lord it over me how great they are for being parents. My family on the other hand, expect me to gush over their fecundity, and tut-tut over my wife and my choice to not have kids. My mother has gone as far as talking to my friends who have kids about subtly bullying us. My one friend had to tell her, "I"ve known notsnot since we were babies and if one thing's constant, it's that he doesn't want kids."

I know damn well how tough it is to have kids. Not fuckin' interested.
posted by notsnot at 7:24 PM on June 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


Shit, I haven't even decided what my kid's favorite video game is yet.
posted by box at 7:24 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kudos on the mother-shaming, Jezebel!

Well, in this day and age motherhood is indefensible, so how can Jezebel resist?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:25 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ugh, Tracey Moore's pieces on Jezebel are the worst.

In some of the comments on her other pieces people seem to also dislike the way she makes motherhood sound so terrible. The image of standing around a tennis court catching fly balls while making a peanut butter sandwich made it worth it for me, though.
posted by chela at 7:31 PM on June 18, 2012


I was hoping this would be about a world that's already at 1000% capacity.

There's plenty of resources for all, it's just distribution of resources that's the problem.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:33 PM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Can we just briefly mention the Jezebel sidebar link to Ryan Gosling breakdancing at a Mormon concert?
posted by bquarters at 7:34 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm actually looking forward to having kids because I'm so keen to test my hypothesis that my dog has prepared me exceptionally well for having children.

This might indicate that I'm approaching this the wrong way, but what can I say.
posted by town of cats at 7:36 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


On the flip side, I'm 40 and most of my friends are 35+. And many of them decided in the last year or two that they are finally ready to have a baby. Then they find out getting pregnant is not nearly as easy as they thought (or in the past, feared). Turns out that making babies is a lot easier in your 20s than your late 30s. And so now I've heard a lot of fertility stories, expenses and stresses and discussions about what you do if you have triplets.

Absolutely wait until you're in a position in your life where having a baby makes sense and you're committed to parenthood. But don't dawdle. Related: Paul Ford on in-vitro fertilization.
posted by Nelson at 7:39 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I could swear this was one of those jokes that used to get passed around in email. And probably by fax machine before that.

Or maybe it really is new and it just seems like one of those jokes that used to get passed around in email.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's like, can you be "ready" for a cyclone? Can you be "ready" for the moon? Can you be "ready" for a dinosaur eating a cupcake?

Christ, hyperbole much, Jezebel?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:41 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I saw an article the other day that said a kid costs upwards of 250k these days. I've always wanted three kids (give or take one or three). I was thinking, "I'm 40. No kids. Working a job that should be able to support a family. Where did that money go?" Then I remembered, we all know where it went. Who am I trying to fool?

I am so ashamed.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:43 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hell, I thought I was the dinosaur eating the cupcake. Now I am confused.
posted by not_on_display at 7:43 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am such a liar. I am 42 soon! Also, I actually take pride in my lack of offspring.

I really do want kids, but so far most parents watch theirs too closely. I'm just awaiting for one to follow me home after school.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:45 PM on June 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


You are so not almost ready for a baby if you are focused on the "baby" phase.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:00 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, so, I don't want a baby. I'm not sure I ever want a baby. I have a great stepkid who I never had to deal with as an infant.

But going through the list of OMG HAVING A BABY IS SO HARD stuff... and it does not sound like a really terrible thing, to me. I mean, it's a lifestyle change. The sort of lengths people go to in order to make major changes in their lives often seem crazy and hard. But, seriously, the only part of this that seems bad or wrong on any level is that we don't have adequate social support systems to make sure that people aren't expected to do the worst of this *and* hold down a full time job.

Or maybe I'm a total freak in that I'm not particularly disturbed by the notion of disrupted sleep schedules and poop and dear lord the omnipresent specter of looking old. Actually, come to think of it, the notion of a generation of kids being raised by parents who're so fixated on how ordinary life functions are Hard And Icky is kind of disturbing.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:01 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


"It's not like being bisexual in college, where you can get it all out of your system before you actually have to pick a side."

Annnnnd that's where I stopped reading.
posted by ShawnStruck at 8:03 PM on June 18, 2012 [28 favorites]


I'll keep practicing making them, just in case.
posted by LordSludge at 8:04 PM on June 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's a seismic life change. In a couple of weeks TPS will confirm my statement.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:05 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a reason fucking feels so good. If humans regularly waited until they were ready to properly raise children, the species would have gone extinct long ago.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:06 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Really the hardest part is not ever getting enough fucking sleep. The rest you can adjust to but not if you're dead on your feet.
posted by emjaybee at 8:08 PM on June 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm actually looking forward to having kids because I'm so keen to test my hypothesis that my dog has prepared me exceptionally well for having children.

Ha ha ha ha ha. No. Dogs can be housetrained, and that's just for starters.
posted by smoke at 8:09 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


No one on earth has ever been ready to have a baby. Good thing you don't need to be ready. People adapt.
posted by Miko at 8:28 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Or maybe I'm a total freak in that I'm not particularly disturbed by the notion of disrupted sleep schedules and poop and dear lord the omnipresent specter of looking old.

The "notion" of disturbed sleep is not that bad. The reality is that sleep deprivation is actually used as a form of torture. It's not always as bad as all that (my son sleeps from 7 to 6am now) but when it's bad, yeah, it is actually seriously awful.

Also, looking old is whatever but I think it's pretty normal to be weirded out or upset by serious changes to your body (including things like incontinence, none of your clothes fitting, etc.)
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:33 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


gracedissolved - I hear you. I'm so sick of the 'having a baby is the hardest thing you've ever done, or could imagine doing, and nobody without kinds could ever understand rah rah rah' rant. If if it's so fucking unimaginably terrible, why did you have a kid? Feeding the babe a couple times a night, changing diapers, and going to the playground is not that hard. Yeah, you have less time now for your favorite hobbies - surfing the internet and watching TV - boo hoo!!! I understand that there are some pretty unique challenges out there for parents of sick kids, working parents, parents of multiples, poor parents - but having kids as such isn't the monumental challenge it's made out to be. Almost anyone can do it, actually, and most will even enjoy it!
In case you were wondering, I have a 10-month old and we're doing all the 'attachment parenting' stuff that's so fashionable right now (ie she sleeps/naps with or on me since she was born and we're almost never separated) and still, I feel my identity as a grown human being is pretty intact and uncompromised...I'm still 'me', all around.
posted by The Toad at 8:37 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sometimes you think you're ready, but biology refuses to play ball.

Our first son was 11 days late, which was pretty frustrating for my wife. The advice the midwife gave us (rather, to my wife) was to walk walk walk, so that's what we did, day after day.

One evening we were out for a walk, and my wife felt some sort of pain. It was a kind of pain she had felt several times before over the past couple of weeks, but every time it was a false alarm.

So we walked around the neighbourhood. Halfway through the walk my wife doubled over in pain. "He's coming." So we walked a little faster, and then, once again, in front of some kids skipping rope, my wife doubled up in pain.

"What's wrong?" one of the girls asked.

"I'm having a baby," my wife said.

"Oh," said the little girl.

I drove my wife to the clinic, and then turned around to go home and get some clean clothes - and our dog, who would be tied up outside our room in the garden.

On the way back I got a call on my cell from the midwife who told me to hurry hurry hurry, the baby was coming soon. So I got there, and 10 minutes later our son was born.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:39 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I truly can not tell you how much better my hand-eye coordination has gotten since I became a parent. Not only can I pluck flying toys out of the air one-handed at awkward, diving angles like an All-Star outfielder, to prevent them from splitting a kid's head open when thrown by another kid, but I can now throw toy trucks -- any size! odd shapes! -- into the truck basket from ANY PLACE IN THE ROOM, left-handed! I can even, when the basket is under furniture, bank them off the furniture lefty in order to get them in the basket.

"Throwing things is NAUGHTY, Daddy".
posted by Sebmojo at 8:41 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know what's funny? People thinking a little poop is a big deal. Poop is nothing. You'll happily be up to your elbows in shit because at least the kid isn't thrashing and sending it up the walls.

Sleep loss, fussy children and screaming. Those are big deals.

Anyway, here is our baby, who has been sick and away from daycare lately, staring mournfully out the window. Everybody say Ahhh!

And here she is happy. She is getting better.

Oh shit, I hear her crying.
posted by Artw at 8:49 PM on June 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Can you be "ready" for a dinosaur eating a cupcake?

I have been prepared for this my entire life.
posted by elizardbits at 8:55 PM on June 18, 2012 [25 favorites]


Good Christ, this makes me wish I believed in ghosts, if only so I could find solace in the idea that Shirley Jackson, Jean Kerr and Erma Bombeck might deliver a supernatural beatdown to the writer. I have lost all patience with this particular bloggy trope, because it's so blinkered.

Tending a baby is a transitional phase. The sleep deprivation and the discerning-someone's-needs-when-they-can-only-communicate-through-sobbing condition can be wearing, but the thing about parenting a baby is, it's over within twelve months. It's not a permanent condition. It's a year of your life, and then you're on to the next stage in the adventure.

Babyhood constitutes such a small percentage of parenting. It's like assuming that being ready for your first dance at a wedding is going to prepare you for a lifetime of marriage.
posted by sobell at 8:58 PM on June 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


Don't tell them about years 2-4.
posted by Artw at 9:03 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


5-6 though, are ace. you get to do interesting things! Have shared interests! You can read them books like The Hobbit and watch films like Star Wars with them like the horrible nerd4life brainwashed of the next generation you are. It's great!

I just wish she'd actually eat what we give her without rejecting it for not being bland enough and brush her teeth without complaint once in a while.
posted by Artw at 9:07 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


I just typed out a big comment here and then deleted it because of the fear that my son will, someday, read it. Yet another hazard of parenting in the panopticon.
posted by Fraxas at 9:07 PM on June 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some day your kid will be wiping your ass and changing your diaper. So I wouldn't complain.
posted by stargell at 9:08 PM on June 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, this is a contributing factor to why I am no longer married. My ex-wife kept pushing me hard on the child-bearing issue. I kept pushing right back because I feel that if I do not feel ready to share my life with another human being I am not married to then I should not. I truthfully do not believe in the idea that I would somehow, magically, change to a responsible, patient, unselfishly unstinting parent just because a baby appeared in my life. Down that path lies madness (and a broken child) methinks. Isn't it better for me to not breed and not risk bringing a person into this world that may have issues due to my ability to care for them properly than to decide to breed just to make myself feel better about my place in life?

Yay all of you out there that can get your heads in the right space to be parents!

Seriously. Yay you!

As for me, however, I suspect the world would be a better place without my offspring in it. (Not the least due to some congenital problems lurking in the cess pool that is my gene pool.)

Over the years, I have made my opinion of this so staunch my mother refers to my yellow-furred little buddy as her "grandkitty" as she realizes that's what she's getting. I have three little sisters (two of which are mothers in currently stable relationships as far as I know, one of which takes my viewpoint), and one little brother that will probably never grow up enough to get in a stable enough situation to seriously consider the issue.
posted by Samizdata at 9:17 PM on June 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


(Ummmm, change "one of which" to "the remaining sister". Curse you syntactic clarity!)
posted by Samizdata at 9:18 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey look, someone's whining because they decided to do something that's really challenging, and apparently they're in it alone or have a seriously lame partner (who, well, they chose). Sucks to be them I guess?

*shrug*
posted by trackofalljades at 9:19 PM on June 18, 2012


Yep, sounds awful. I'm good.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:33 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yet somehow we get by.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:49 PM on June 18, 2012


I can't remember how many hundreds of times I heard wide-eyed warnings (some allegedly humorous, like this article, most not) about how having a child is incredibly hard and will change your life etc. etc.

Well, duh.

We had a child when we were both 39 or so. Our girl is twenty now and my memory is of two delightful decades. Sure, I remember bouncing a crying baby around singing lullabies at 2AM, when I could have been soundly sleeping, and I remember many times from 2 to 12 when she wanted something NOW...but I hardly thought that I could read and write novels while raising a child. There have been many studies in the media in the last two or three years about how parents' happy times are not those spent with one's offspring. Sure, "Look at me, look at me, look at me" can wear thin sometimes. But I have nothing but happy memories. Life lasts a while; short term reports are suspect. This morning, my daughter, having taken a semester of drawing classes drew an incredible pencil sketch of an etched glass jar that was sitting on the table. Ya coulda knocked me over with a feather. Damn, it was good!
posted by kozad at 9:52 PM on June 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


Ther is no ready - there is only the art of infant/toddler sequestration. Know, use and love the cradle, swing, playpen, doorway gate, high chair, walker, & my favorite, the "stationary entertainer," otherwise referred to as The Command Module.

If you're overwhelmed by plain old parenthood, you're maybe not doing it right.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:02 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I'm not overly fond of the actual FPP, I totally agree with Vibrissae. A friend of mine joined the church where we met almost entirely because she was living in a city where she had no family and very few friends. She was, in part, looking for a community to help raise her daughter. And she succeeded. Even though we aren't super close, I often feel like I'm more an uncle to her daughter than I am to my actual nephew (who happens to live as far away as is possible while still being in the same country as I am).
posted by asnider at 10:13 PM on June 18, 2012


We're toilet-training our two-year old daughter. She'll pee in the potty but won't poo yet. Two days ago she wasn't wanting to wear a pull-up because all we had were the ones with yellow Doras on them rather than pink Doras. So, she wasn't wearing anything. She came up to me on the couch and said "it's hard to walk" and then proceeded to do the red-faced strain and layed a big log on the floor, and two more splats before I could get her to the bathroom.

...and it wasn't even really worth mentioning to the wife on the stress of the day scale. I'd forgotten, and then remembered at dinner. "Oh yeah, and she shit on the floor."
posted by jimmythefish at 10:13 PM on June 18, 2012 [27 favorites]


This kind of thing drove me absolutely nuts while my wife was incubating the Scatterkitten. It's like... yes, I know having a baby is a life change. That's why we waited until we were settled and stable, with time, space, and money to spare, and until we were willing to put in the effort required. Just because we haven't actually experienced our own infant does not mean that it's impossible for us to have a rough estimate of the needs and possible complications that can arise.

Four months in, and yeah, sleep deprivation sucks. (As I knew from my experience with insomnia.) Otherwise, it's about as expected. We work opposite halves of the week to minimize the need/cost for babysitting, which means we're both functionally single parents most of the time. :-P It's hard, of course, but it's not startling or completely unhandleable or anything.

People blow this up to be a lot bigger than it is, and I'm at a loss for charitable explanations as to why.
posted by Scattercat at 10:17 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


People blow this up to be a lot bigger than it is, and I'm at a loss for charitable explanations as to why.

Low-hanging fruit, mostly.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:19 PM on June 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


...Also, experiencing [the stress of parenting] and being able to lord it over others is one of the few best senses of entitlement you'll probably ever get in this lifetime...

Entitlement. Well at least she's honest, I guess.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:43 PM on June 18, 2012


I would urge caution - assuming that parenting is relatively easy for everyone simply because it was for you is just as bad as assuming the opposite.
posted by smoke at 10:51 PM on June 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Parenting is not easy, but everyone can do it. That's the thing about it.

So ... You’re So Ready for a Baby, Even If You Think You Are Not.

What's that, the contrapositive?
posted by mrgrimm at 10:56 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure it's hard. Most worthwhile pursuits are. Having children is humbling and harrowing but also extremely rewarding...under the right circumstances.*

Having and raising children well within society's definition of "non-shitty parenting" is really, really hard sometimes. Some days it is just the most awful thing. At 3 a.m. when the little pisser is screaming bloody murder in your ear and you can't figure out what he wants (protip: sometimes they just want to cry) it makes you feel like you want to die, or at the very least sell the kid to a passing troupe of acrobats and then crash your 1989 blue Ford Taurus into a convenience store and steal all the Diet Cokes and pour them down your throat until you pass out.

You become a zombie. Your work suffers. Everybody else with kids is a better parent than you, and they make it look easy too! Like their kids are perfect little angels who can do no wrong. Meanwhile your kid can't even say your name yet. And there are a million little ailments that googling about before calling your doctor will just end in white-knuckle anxiety. It's demoralizing. Some days it feels like the entire planet is conspiring to extinguish your child, and he doesn't seem to care about the extraordinary lengths you've gone to to protect him from exposure, starvation, and large predators. Nah, he screams at you to change his diaper for the 453rd time.

Some days you wish you were single again, without a care in the world.

And then he grasps your finger with his tiny little hand and squeezes. He squeezes it so tight but he's so small and so fragile that it barely even registers as a squeeze, yet at the same time it's The Greatest Squeeze Of All Time and you get this little lump in your throat, and it swells up, up, up until it reaches your eyes which well up and your vision gets all hot and blurry and suddenly all those dark thoughts you were entertaining about being childless just dry up and blow away and you bend down and kiss his forehead, his eyes, his nose; his cheeks, then his nose again, again, again.

"I love you, my son."

And in that moment you realize that you have never felt so strongly or desperately about anything or anyone in your life. You know that you would run through burning collapsing buildings for him. It's a new kind of ache, deeper and sharper and more sustained; the kind of ache that I suspect never fully goes away.

*Let's be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that the right circumstances are: access to clean water, safe shelter, adequate food and health care, a stable home environment. Raising children in a first world country above the poverty line is the only thing that lets us have these kinds of insights. Raising a child in lesser circumstances would be a lot more difficult and potentially much less rewarding, given the circumstances and potential outcomes. In other words, all this talk of babies and difficulty/reward is a bit of privileged wankery, innit.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:08 PM on June 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


I like to imagine baby behavior in adults. Not the pooping yourself and not being able to walk; nothing funny about that -- and best-case scenario, we'll all get there.

But the crying. Yes the crying. Make the most unpleasant noise possible, as loud as you can, until you get your way. Use it in the office. Use it at the in-laws. Use it with law enforcement. This is funny to me.

So thanks, other people's babies. You are hilarious.
posted by LordSludge at 11:18 PM on June 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, I became a parent for the first time at 17, the second time at 27. It's a hard job and it's really, really hard when you are a teenager. Add to this no supportive co-parent and it becomes even harder. I did not give myself the luxury of reflection on the difficulty when I was actually doing it, though. To think that other people feel that they're giving up a lot to do it when they're in their thirties and solidly middle-class just seems ridiculously entitled to me. I find it almost impossible to feel true empathy for someone who has serious concerns over such generally trivial things (white couchs and weekends in Cabo?) as the author of this piece feels are important. You make a decision to have children, you take in stride all that this entails when you do so, whether you're a middle class person in their thirties or a teenager living in poverty. You do the best you can with what you have and you take the joys where you find them.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 11:21 PM on June 18, 2012 [16 favorites]


I delivered my son in the alternative birthing room of our local hospital. Our midwife was busy with another emerging child in another birthing room at the time. His tiny body was unexpectedly muscular. I thought babies were supposed to be soft. This was to be only the first of the many revelations I would receive.

When the midwife came in, I already had wrapped him, and laid him on his mother's belly. She handed me the tool to cut the cord that bound him to his mother. I carried him to the room where the nurse did the blood test: I wanted to hit her when she jabbed his little toe and drew blood, but since I was holding him in my arms at the time I had to stand still, so the moment passed. I returned him to his mother, who by now was in a recovery room, and lay him upon her for his first meal.

He slept between us, his mother and me, for several weeks. You will not roll over on your infant in your sleep. It is impossible. I woke several times each night to put my hand on his chest to make sure he was still breathing. He was healthy as a cat, and I had no reason to worry, yet...

New babies are persons, fully so, but the inhabitants of their universe are so different from the inhabitants of ours that they, babies, have a somewhat alien aspect about them. It's possible to know them fully as they emerge into our world, and leave the baby world to itself. His first few years, as he developed into a real person, I knew the way his mind worked, and what items and notions he used to interpret his world. His little eyes missed nothing, his little ears heard everything, yet he had no English vocabulary. Still he was far from dumb. He made up sounds for things he wanted to communicate to us, and I never seemed to have any problem understanding what he told me. I remember the first time he paused to reconsider the difference between the word I and the word me. The catalog of his firsts is not literally endless, but for all practical purposes it stretches to infinity.

I wasn't ready for a child. In my heart of hearts I dreaded his birth and all the responsibilities and limitations I knew that it would mean for me. My dread lasted exactly until that moment in the birthing room, when he emerged from his mother, and his little eyes struggled against the light, moving more or less independently, myopically searching the bright--and no doubt chilly--strangeness, as he tried to make sense out of what had just happened to him. He was heavy and warm and beautiful in my hands.

I was transformed.

Know this: not everyone is cut out for parenthood. Just look around for examples that prove this statement. Feeling prepared has nothing to do with it.
posted by mule98J at 11:29 PM on June 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


My wife and I will be having twins...Due around mid November to early December.
My days of dicking off in front of the internet are rapidly closing.
posted by Ct314 at 11:44 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read pieces like this and see them as commercial things: "This was written to fill a financial obligation."

Still, some of it was true. For us, the sleep loss was the big kicker. For me especially as, after 4 am I don't go back to sleep. The hardest lesson I think was learning to sit-the-fuck-back-and-roll-with-it. We might be late to - x - but along the way there were all these other cool things which, to a child are every bit as relevant and might even be more interesting. Balance, man, learn balance.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:54 PM on June 18, 2012


I saw an article the other day that said a kid costs upwards of 250k these days.

I seriously doubt that. In fact, I heard societies without monetary systems can still have children just fine.

The poor do as well.
posted by Malice at 12:02 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm never quite sure how to respond to articles like this one. I figure I have three options:

1. If nothing can prepare me, then I might as well get knocked up at 11 years of age.

2. If this shit is so mind-bending hard to do, then we should all stop having kids and I wonder at your decision making skills since it seems you popped out a kid despite having such a poor opinion of the whole thing.

3. Telling us childless people how we have never done anything close to the hard work you have done as a parent and then giving us many hilarious situations that illustrate this amazing miracle you accomplish daily reminds me of the equally hilarious emails my neighbor sends me of a seemingly endless stream of amusing cats with captions that I have already seen on imgur.com.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:56 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


You will not roll over on your infant in your sleep. It is impossible.

Turns out I can do the impossible! I have done exactly this, last week with my newborn son. I realised half way and stopped, and didn't apply enough pressure to cause any issues, but it scared me senseless at the time.

"Oh my god she's casting a shadow! Is that normal?"

Classic.
posted by Admira at 2:14 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You aren't a real parent until a picture of your spawn becomes your facebook profile picture.
posted by srboisvert at 4:18 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


And in that moment you realize that you have never felt so strongly or desperately about anything or anyone in your life. You know that you would run through burning collapsing buildings for him. It's a new kind of ache, deeper and sharper and more sustained; the kind of ache that I suspect never fully goes away

Thanks for that. The rewards outweigh to work 10-1, even though it is hard work. I discovered the meaning of life while walking down the street with a 2 year old girl walking next to me, holding my hand. It wasn't any mystic revelation, it was just simply that. At that moment anyway, the meaning of life was to hold my child's hand.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:29 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


One child really isn't that hard.


The second one?



All bets are off.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:47 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me, there would be no rewards in having a child, because I don't want one. And that's perfectly fine.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:51 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Life blew for the first 8 months. After that? Couldn't be happier.

Suck it Jez.
posted by stormpooper at 5:10 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


In German they say, "Ein Kind ist kein Kind." This translates roughly as, "Everyone knows, having one child is so easy it's basically like having no kids at all!"
posted by From Bklyn at 5:11 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have made no children in large part because I feel there are plenty here already, and because I do not feel equipped to be an acceptable parent. I gave plenty of thought to the issues ungracefully outlined in the article and decided I'd be happier childfree.


By contrast, one of my co-workers is an unmarried woman with seven children (by three different men) who regularly and loudly complains about how "stupid" they are. After listening to this for months, I finally asked her, "if you find your children so annoying, why did you have so many of them?"

Her reply: "Because I thought being pregnant felt cool."
posted by kinnakeet at 5:37 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


No kids here, so maybe that's why I actually liked this article. That, and seeing about a thousand people a day at work (no exaggeration; public library) who would have benefited greatly from considering any one of the points the author makes before having kids. The article might be trope-y or uber-cliched for people who know better, but I promise you, there's a significant portion of the population for whom its message is completely alien. Now, if only they could read...
posted by Rykey at 5:42 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Years ago one of my best friends was considering adoption, but was having some angst over whether it was the right move. During one of her "should I do this or am I nuts" talks with me, I suddenly realized she was talking about looking forward to that one night when the kid can't sleep and is crying and she'd be pacing in the kid's room crying along with them because she didn't know what was wrong and didn't know how to fix it, and that she was also looking forward to one day when the kid was a teenager and would look at her and tell her "wow, mom, you're fucked up"...

...and I just interrupted her and said "if you're actually at a point where you're looking forward to that stuff, you're ready."

Adoption didn't work out, but she had her own daughter later; then when her daughter got bit on the face by a dog when she was a baby, my friend said something similar when she was reporting on what the doctor said ("she's a good candidate for cosmetic surgery, so one day my daughter is going to look at me and use a perfect mouth to tell me that I'm fucked") -- she said that that thought was cheering her up. She was, like, meant to be a parent.

(Pregnancy is what kicked her ass but good, though, so her daughter is probably going to be an only child.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:51 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always maintained that the problem with kids is that you can't give them back if it turns out you have regrets. Nor are there kiddie lemon laws - if you have a kid and it turns out to have serious problems or is merely of a temperament not very compatible with yours, you can't get a refund or exchange at the Child Warehouse.

Sure, these kinds of articles are way over the top (you have to give up your white leather couch O NOEZ!) but IMO, recognizing that kids will change your life and you will have to give up some of the carefree blissy things and, more important, that kids are little individuals and you aren't guaranteed a Mini-Me or a cute, sporty-yet-intellectual, well-behaved and low-maintenance child, is worth at least a passing thought.

I've known people who regret having kids because they really can't deal with those lifestyle changes (again, not so much the white couches, but they seriously wanted their old couple-of-leisure way of life back) and known more who loved the idea of having a kid and didn't mind the lifestyle changes, but didn't really like the kid that nature gave them.

Perhaps a more serious and to-the-point article would ask: Are you prepared to accept and love the child you get rather than the one you wished you had, no matter what? And can you love your hormonal, rule-flouting, purple-haired, homework-shirking teenager as much as you would love your cute and docile five-year-old?

BTW, I'm childfree by choice because I asked myself a lot of hard questions and it came up "for me, having a kid wouldn't be worth it." I'm glad I thought of this before I made such a permanent commitment.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 6:02 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't know, having a small child or two isn't as bad as it's made out to be. I mean, the amount of scutwork is ridiculous. But your genetic imperative to spread your DNA kicks in and gets you through it. I'd like to read more articles from the parents who really have it bad - those whose drive does not kick in and are confronted w/ the grim fate of dealing with an ape that can't be housetrained for 3 years and that they aren't any more attached to than, say, a good friend of theirs.
posted by NathanBoy at 6:12 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


…Erma Bombeck…sobell

Came looking for Erma. Leaving satisfied.
posted by readyfreddy at 6:29 AM on June 19, 2012


So much of this depends on context and the support systems in place. My mom, for example, had an almost ridiculously privileged time when I was a baby, as an upper-middle-class person in India. Her pregnancy was hard, because she apparently couldn't eat anything the whole time, but once I was out she had so many people on hand I doubt she suffered much sleep loss. My dad was (and is) the most supportive co-parent possible. There were also two sets of grandparents (for both of whom I was the first grandchild), three aunts and two uncles all living close by. She had three months of maternity leave before her pregnancy and six months afterward (which apparently put no dent in her career trajectory whatsoever). She says she really really enjoyed this time and wishes she had done it a couple more times.

I'm not saying I need this experience when I have a kid, but it would be nice to have something in between this and what appears to be the norm in the US, with the 12 months of sleep deprivation and barely any maternal leave and exorbitant childcare and lack of extended family support.
posted by peacheater at 6:34 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really good piece, and there's a lot of truth to the preparation one should do to get ready for a baby. Once the baby came I seriously wished I'd taken up weight lifting and marathon running and I don't know, maybe deep meditation technique training for a couple years beforehand. Maybe, just just maybe I would not have felt so suicidal yet too tired to commit suicide (besides what kind of irresponsible dick commits suicide when they have a couple of human beings counting on them at that point).

The amazing thing is that the combination of stresses and no sleep and mental and emotional and physical duress would make you stronger, fitter and ready to take on an army, but somehow it ends up running you down, and you feel weaker and you put on weight and showers become a luxury, and you catch yourself in the mirror and your like AHHHH WHAT THE FUCK??!!

But all of that is tolerable and eventually you sort of find a balance, and your pretty much in love with this tiny being and at the root of that, is as someone mentioned in the comments of that piece:

kids mean that your heart will be walking around outside your body for the rest of your life.

And that's the thing you will never get a handle on. Ever. No matter how much you try and escape that fact, and believe me I've tried. From here on in...it's all for real everything is going to seriously take an irreplaceable piece of you...

On the upside knowing your heart will survive your own mortality is some real consolation, and I hope the last thing I get to see before i shuffle off to never-ever land is my daughter's face smiling at me with love.
posted by Skygazer at 6:53 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife and I will be having twins...Due around mid November to early December.
My days of dicking off in front of the internet are rapidly closing.


They definitely are not.
posted by michaelh at 6:57 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Being in my mid twenties I get the whole "when you going to have a child?" And comments, like, "oh it will make life so great for you!"
My response has always been that I don't like children, I have bad genetics and do not want to pass this on to anyone let alone offspring, and that I enjoy the thought of only being responsible for me.
Then of course the comments become, "oh you will change your mind" and "there is so much joy from a child."

I call bullshit. These are the same people bitching about ER visits, sleepless nights, giving up there hobbies, and not having the fun they use to.... yea fucking sign me up for 18 years of that. Not to mention the finacial costs and lost opportunities. Everyone should do their own thing, I just wish having children wasn't some thing of "this is my greatest accomplishment". Well fuck, if my biggest accomplishment in life is having a child, that would be such a fucking disappointment and waste! Particularly since I am always seeing people having kids that probably shouldnt.

To each their own, but from my observations, those who remain childless appear to be much happier, and much more well off financially.
posted by handbanana at 6:58 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've always maintained that the problem with kids is that you can't give them back if it turns out you have regrets.

Actually...

posted by Sys Rq at 7:03 AM on June 19, 2012


You will not roll over on your infant in your sleep. It is impossible.

Yes I mentioned this to my wife when we first co-slept (not out of any hippie desire but rather just convenience). Turns out that it really just means that you're awake almost the entire time.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:11 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am almost ready for one. But can someone - once and for all - tell me:

how is babby formed?
posted by jph at 7:21 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've always maintained that the problem with kids is that you can't give them back if it turns out you have regrets.

Are you sure? I kept the receipt.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:25 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well fuck, if my biggest accomplishment in life is having a child, that would be such a fucking disappointment and waste!

It's a matter of perspective. I'll quote successful singer/songwriter Andy Partridge on the matter:

"What I can do with a guitar pales in comparison to what I can do with a penis."

I've accomplished plenty in life, and I'd lie if I said I didn't have regrets -- we all do -- but there's a type of satisfaction that comes with spending 20 years helping to form a new whole person and to watch them fledge. My 20 yo daughter is not only a pretty great person, but she's also a great friend, and we share a closeness & understanding of one another that I have with no other adult. The bond is pretty unique amongst my human interactions, and my life would be immensely poorer without it, even if I was an astro-physicist.

It does't have to detract from the other accomplishments, but it can overshadow them in meaningfulness in the end.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:34 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know, I have this theory that back in the period when families were huge, people were actually better prepared.

You see, I come from a larger than average family, and my youngest sister is thirteen years younger than me. This means I spent my adolescence helping my mother raise a baby. Not just go-play-with-your-cute-cousins kind of raising, but actual nappies and night feeds. She was a terrible sleeper and my parents were both working two jobs at the time, so all hands needed to be on deck to help and as the oldest a lot of the more responsible stuff fell to me.

Flash forward now, and I am around 9 weeks pregnant, and I am not afraid. I'll find out how ready I am eventually, I suppose, but there will be many fewer suprises. I've experienced nappy blowout first hand. I've spoon fed an infant who is so adverse to dinnertime she forced the mush out her nose rather than eat it. I've found cereal shapes in my school uniform pockets while on campus. I've wound up sprayed with snot while trying to clear a blockage.

Now, she's seventeen, and helps with my sister's kids. Not to the same degree as I helped out when she was a baby, to be sure, but she's capable of handling a newborn without treating it like porcelain, she can change nappies, she's already learned that particular hip-tilt that will support a child of just about any age while you work with your free hand to dislodge the lego-brick/kiss owie/administer custard.

This sort of thing was much more common years ago when you needed to have nine kids to make sure three survived. My family is culturally catholic, and I hear a lot about older relatives being heavily involved in raising their siblings. We come away from it knowing babies cast shadows, because we've seen it, and smaller families coupled with the retreat to the nuclear family mean that an awful lot of folk don't have that experience. My partner's in for a few rude shocks I think when our spawn does emerge, the sleep dep for even a non-feeding caregiver and that soul shredding anxiety when they cry and you just can't work out what's wrong. Smaller families in general mean less people have that experience.
posted by Jilder at 7:36 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know what I really hate? Reading articles like this which trivialize something that's actually enormously important to me by assuming that my thinking is laughably shallow. The whole "if you think you're prepared to be a parent you don't understand what parenting is" trope drives me crazy. On the one hand, I have no doubt that it's true. On the other hand, it aims to make fools of people who are approaching a huge question with care and want to feel supported, rather than ridiculed, as they make a life-changing choice.

Ugh.
posted by Cygnet at 8:01 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I have this theory that back in the period when families were huge, people were actually better prepared.

I kind of wonder about that. Families these days have a much better EQ (or emotional intelligence) and are expected to have a better EQ, whereas a hundred years ago, due to disease and poverty or whatever, you could guarantee that a large portion of the population was living in a permanent state of PTSD.

My own father was beaten with a rope end (his grandfather had been in the merchant marine) as a child, and my mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany at the end of the war. Her mother and father (my grandparents) had been through a lot that had profoundly damaged them as human beings.

My point is that, at least in North America, we're more emotionally prepared to be parents these days, I would say.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:04 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is a less shallow article from the NY Times.

The comment at the bottom is what is noticeably absent from all the "babies are the best decision I ever made" and meditations on parenthood:

I wish I had read this article 9 years ago. I have no place having a child. My (ex) wife's and my decision was based totally on the "desire" to have a child, and raise a family. In my heart of hearts, I always knew that the responsibility would not be something I could handle on my own. My wife is now my ex because I was expected to handle it on my own. In my heart of hearts, I saw that coming, but failed to heed it. Had I been offered this reasoned decision, the outcome would have been much different. I owe my child the best I can give him. Unfortunately, for various reasons that were foreseeable, I cannot give what I owe. I never could, and may never be able to. Plus he was born with a serious birth defect that was undetectable until after he was born. The change in my life, my ex-wife's life, and the effects on our son have been devastating. I had no right to do that to him... to create a life I couldn't support. Even if you don't agree with this article, it is worth considering anyway, especially if you are thinking of having a child, or another. The necessity of this line of questioning is important.
posted by discopolo at 8:07 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


People blow this up to be a lot bigger than it is, and I'm at a loss for charitable explanations as to why.

Self-aggrandizement. Tribal affiliation. Smugness.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:07 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I send this to my ovaries somehow? They are REALLY trying to convince me to have a baby, despite my child-free life plan.
posted by Fig at 8:08 AM on June 19, 2012


You’re So Not Ready to Look Down Your Nose at Excited and Eager First-Time Parents, Even If You Think You Are
posted by 23skidoo at 8:14 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My father never wanted kids and never really bonded with his first two kids (my older sisters) and it was an enormous tragedy for all of them (that is in response to something above about how hard it would be not to be bonded with your kids, I can't find it now, sorry). All he could think about when he saw them was how enormously difficult his life had suddenly become at a young age so they were essentially banned from leaving their bedrooms after he got home at night. Fucked up, and neither of them speak to him now.

Anyway, I'm kinda curious about what people who don't have kids want to hear about parenting, just because I get the impression from this thread that it's uncool to talk about how awesome it is but also uncool to talk about it being really hard. Is it supposed to be presented as a sort of bland fact like buying a used late-model sedan? Because it really is rather life-changing in good (and bad) ways, and I don't think most parents say so in an effort to make you feel like shit. If they are trying to make you feel like shit or trying to encourage you to procreate, then I see why you're irritated, but otherwise...not really getting the issue that a childfree person would have with an article like this or someone saying that their kids were their biggest achievement. There are a lot of people who experience life-changing things or achievements that I will never experience, and that kinda has to be okay with me because otherwise the world would be a very frustrating place.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:49 AM on June 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


I want to say something about choice here. We've let the market ideology of rational choices penetrate our lives so much that everything seems like another in a series of consumer choices. You must have perfect knowledge of how your purchasing choices will affect your life. You have only yourself to blame for not comparison shopping. People are approaching families with the same perspective. When things don't make them happier, they want to find a way to reverse the choice, like returning a product. I guess my rambly point is that you have to take a certain stoic approach to the outcomes of your choices and realize not everything is engineered to make you happy.

It's nothing like having kids, but, for example, my mom got two kittens, then was constantly annoyed at them for destroying things in her house (basically a kitten's sole purpose in life) and needing her to feed, play with and clean up after them. She expresses this by proclaiming that the kittens are bad, jerks, annoying, always forcing her to work for them. So it wasn't all smiles and sunshine. Most things in life aren't.

On the other hand, I see lots of my peers doing what looks like excessive pampering to their children. Maybe it just appears that way from my childless perspective, but the kid'll be fine if you can't find their favorite flavor of Gogurt. I'm not saying it's not hard, but you don't have to make your child the center of your life, do you? It's weird to me because I know a lot of the people my age weren't raised by "attachment parents" and weren't the central figures in the family life, yet they put their kids on pedestals.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'm kinda curious about what people who don't have kids want to hear about parenting, just because I get the impression from this thread that it's uncool to talk about how awesome it is but also uncool to talk about it being really hard.

I want to hear more about how it affects a couple's financial future and if it ratchets up their sense of financial anxiety. I want to hear more balance to the "kids are the best thing ever." But I don't think parents feel like they can do that without feeling superficial and evil.
posted by discopolo at 9:02 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


the kid'll be fine if you can't find their favorite flavor of Gogurt

Yeah, you know that, and they (probably) know that, but the kid does not know that. A lot of what looks to the childless like excess pampering is, for the parents, a way of staving off a shrieking toddler meltdown when the Gogurt is wrong.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:15 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it's not hard, but you don't have to make your child the center of your life, do you?

Well, no you don't. You can lock them in a cellar and throw food scraps down to them through the trap door every now and then.

But on a practical level, your children become one of the metrics that define your life, and in a complex way that's often more subtle than you'd care to have it. If they aren't actually central to your life (you take them with you to Africa on your decade-long study of Chimpanzees--you'll teach them woodcraft and biology, and they'll pick up where you left off), then they become a major aspect of your life (they will at least blow on the ashes on your campfire for your evening tea, and keep the baboons out of the ice chest). Later on, they'll be the ones who either tidy up your field notes for serialization in National Geographic, or else they'll perhaps manage the gate at the cemetery when people come to piss on your grave. More likely they'll start a band in their senior year of high school and won't have even a nit's interest in field biology. They'll make lousy music, incessantly question your values, and wear their hair and clothes in such a way as to cause you to wonder if some sort of alien replacement event might have occurred at the hospital before you brought them home. They'll drive 1200 miles on Father's Day to take you out to dinner. They will become people with their mother's eyes.

Either way, as someone above said, you'll wear your heart outside your body for the rest of your life. You won't have as much control over them as you'd like to think you have, but everything they do reflects back on you. Mostly that's a good thing. You'll always feel that your best is never good enough.

The most obvious change in my life happened within days of my son's birth. For some reason I started saying stuff like "Oh, my goodness," instead of "What the fuck?"
posted by mule98J at 9:21 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I want to hear more balance to the "kids are the best thing ever."

It's a huge effin' drag hearing that shit before and after you have a baby.

It makes you feel like there's something wrong with you if you're not instantly head over heels thrilled about it. Honestly, like anything it's a process, and you only get out of it what you put into it seems like to me and it takes time.

And babies are charming, (they're programmed to charm you, the little ingrates...) they smile at you a lot and goo goo gah gah etc... but you're not going to get any real communication and interaction for a while until they begin to walk (usually about a year...and you need to help them build up their muscles to do that, or even crawl, for that matter..), and begin to talk beyond gibberish, sometime after 3 years of age...and then you're trying to manage all sorts of tantrums and crazymaking spontaneous behavior. And then you read a story book and you have a major bonding moment and you're thinking about it for the rest of the evening and smiling helplessly like an idiot...
posted by Skygazer at 9:31 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


In defense of the favorite flavor of Gogurt, unless you're living with someone 24/7, you don't know that this is a sign of excessive pampering or a compromise that's pretty low on the scale of "is this a hill I want to die on." I think most parents have their list of non-negotiables, and other stuff is dealt with on a practicality/sanity basis. After a day at work I just want to enjoy the few hours I have with my kid. Big stuff doesn't slide, but sometimes the small stuff has to.

I want to hear more about how it affects a couple's financial future and if it ratchets up their sense of financial anxiety. I want to hear more balance to the "kids are the best thing ever."

Do people really not talk about that? I, and the other parents I know, are all really open with our child-having and child-free friends about how nail biting it is financially to have kids. Daycare can cost almost as much as monthly mortgage payment. Going to see a movie is now a $100 evening because we have to get a babysitter.

Sometimes I wish I could have a conversation cheat sheet for socializing, because I am dang tired most of the time and can't afford to do all the nifty stuff I used to do pre-kid, so as much as I'd love to never speak about kid stuff with my child-free friends, I would be left with work, things I see on Metafilter, and Vampire Diaries as my only topics of conversation.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:34 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know. That's one of many reasons why I didn't have one. Thanks, anyway!
posted by Decani at 9:38 AM on June 19, 2012


I'm not saying it's not hard, but you don't have to make your child the center of your life, do you?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

/falls off chair.
posted by Artw at 9:39 AM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying it's not hard, but you don't have to make your child the center of your life, do you?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

/falls off chair.


Really? Because it certainly wasn't this way in my home when I was a child, nor in the homes of anyone I knew. Maybe because my parents were kind of foreign and more into behaving and discipline than soliciting my opinion on anything.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


gracedissolved: Or maybe I'm a total freak in that I'm not particularly disturbed by the notion of disrupted sleep schedules and poop and dear lord the omnipresent specter of looking old. Actually, come to think of it, the notion of a generation of kids being raised by parents who're so fixated on how ordinary life functions are Hard And Icky is kind of disturbing.

The worst of sleep deprivation happens in the first weeks, when your little one is changing quickly and getting used to the world outside of the womb. Then there are months of interrupted sleep, but you get used to it. When you aren't woken up in the middle of the night, you'll sleep restlessly, as some part of you is prepared to spring from bed at the first sound (at least I was). By 6 months, your little one is probably ready to sleep through the night, and doesn't need to eat in the middle of the night (citation - Google books view of Sleeping Through the Night, Revised Edition: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep). Training them to do so is another issue, but I'll side-step that one.

Poop? Meh, no big deal. Sure, it can be stinky, all kinds of goopy, and your little one can be wiggly while you change him or her, so s/he gets poop all over, but you get used to all that pretty quickly.

Looking old is a weird one. We went out for breakfast on Father's Day, and we saw a couple who looked like they had aged differently. The mother, carrying a tiny child in a baby seat, looked worn out. The father looked like a teenager. Sharing responsibilities is key, so both parents (if there are two parents) can get enough time with and away from the kid(s). Having family and friends in the area to help take care of little rascals helps.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:55 AM on June 19, 2012


Something interesting about the comments above: the parents slightly outnumber the childfree above, but neither group seems to have any problem with the others' viewpoints. I seem to remember countless Metafilter threads in which comments by one of these two groups would start a posting battle about selfishness, overpopulation, etc. Either we've become more civil or we've just realized that it's a fruitless argument. I like to think that parents and non-parents understand each other a little more.
posted by kozad at 9:59 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kitty Stardust: I'm not saying it's not hard, but you don't have to make your child the center of your life, do you?

Artw: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

/falls off chair.


Kitty Stardust: Really? Because it certainly wasn't this way in my home when I was a child, nor in the homes of anyone I knew. Maybe because my parents were kind of foreign and more into behaving and discipline than soliciting my opinion on anything.

There's being A) a helicopter parent, hovering around your kid from the day they're born, B) an attentive parent without the extensive family to help take care of the kid(s) at all times, and C) part of a well-connected extended family. Both A and B mean you spend a lot of time with your kid in the first years of its life. When they can't take care of themselves, or can pose an actual threat to their own lives due to their curious nature, you have to spend a lot of time taking care of them. Then there's playing games, reading books, going on walks and showing and explaining to them about the world around them.

If you have an extended family, older kids and grandparents can fill these roles, but in most modern/western families, it's the parent(s) and the kid(s), with occasional support and help. Your former life of actions at a whim are over. You use to be able to go out to dinner, or visit friends, you could have grabbed your phone, wallet, and keys, and you were good to go. Now, everywhere you go, you need to bring a bag with everything your kiddie could need (diapers, wipes, lotion, changing pad, dirty diaper bags, milk/food, and toys, if nothing else). And weekend get-aways require more than a few changes of clothes, if you're going somewhere that doesn't have a high chair, crib, and washing machine.

After a while, they're more self-sufficient, but you still need to plan for their life as well as your own. The former freedoms that you probably took for granted are gone.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:06 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Those so-called joys of having and raising children in no way make up for the paths not taken, they substitute for them, sometimes badly. How can you ever get over the notion that you'd like to sail solo around the world, or become a....(roving minstrel, hermit, merchant marine, professional soldier, reside with Hef in the penthouse). Sure, none of these things preclude having children, but family life is pretty gritty for those who go that way--especially for the children.

If I could factor a way that didn't involve my son, I would have foregone the experience of parenthood. That's an actual paradox, eh? Even accounting for my various shortcomings and stupid decisions, my regrets lie more in the things I didn't get to do, rather than revising the bad choices I made.

I believe more people are better suited to be uncles and and aunts (or god-mothers/fathers) than they are suited to be parents. The decision to not have children requires calm, frank thinking about one's own attributes. Perhaps more cogitation is involved than the enzyme-driven urge to procreate. It's too bad that societal expectations make that choice hard for many people.

I'm staying away from commenting on the biological imperative to reproduce--in this respect, we do have a choice, and we ought to make one, not just go with the flow.
posted by mule98J at 10:14 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Your former life of actions at a whim are over.

The biggest thing. Bigger than sleep. Orders of magnitude bigger than poop.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well said mule89j, well said. Much more eloquent than I could phrase such a stance, and totally agree the biggest regrets are things one didn't do.
posted by handbanana at 10:37 AM on June 19, 2012


Really? Because it certainly wasn't this way in my home when I was a child, nor in the homes of anyone I knew. Maybe because my parents were kind of foreign and more into behaving and discipline than soliciting my opinion on anything.

Or possibly because, like most kids, you didn't notice 90% of the things you parents were doing for you.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:38 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think parenting is hard as shit so far and I liked this article. (Disclaimer: my son is only 18 months old, and I'm not a baby person, so I don't think I've yet gotten to the part that I'll really love.) To those who are like, "La la! Parenting is not that hard!"--maybe your personality is well-suited to parenting, or maybe you have an easy kid. All parent-child dyads are not created equal. To those who don't have kids and are like, "Shut up about parenting! Why'd you do it if it's so hard?" You don't know until you're in it, and the kid didn't ask to be here. You have to do the best you can, and no backsies. I don't pretend to be superior or have great depths of understanding compared to non-parents...but it is a singular experience and it's silly to pretend it's not. Just like having a dog, or skydiving, or joining the military, or getting cancer, or or or...there are lots of experiences I haven't had and don't begin to understand. It doesn't mean I am an inferior person, and being a parent doesn't mean I am a superior person. Yep, parenting is a big deal and unique, like lots of other things. No need to get butthurt about that fact.
posted by feathermeat at 10:44 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]



"Really? Because it certainly wasn't this way in my home when I was a child, nor in the homes of anyone I knew. Maybe because my parents were kind of foreign and more into behaving and discipline than soliciting my opinion on anything."

Or possibly because, like most kids, you didn't notice 90% of the things you parents were doing for you.


I imagine you're right, ThatFuzzyBastard.
posted by feathermeat at 10:46 AM on June 19, 2012


I'm actually looking forward to having kids because I'm so keen to test my hypothesis that my dog has prepared me exceptionally well for having children.

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. I assume this is a joke/troll.

If not, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, come back after you have a child or two and let us know how this turned out.

I had a dog before I had kids. I used to say, "ya, having this high-maintenance dog is like having a kid." NO! Having a high maintenance dog is like having a fish before having a high-maintenance garden.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:47 AM on June 19, 2012


"La la! Parenting is not that hard!"--maybe your personality is well-suited to parenting, or maybe you have an easy kid.

Or they are like my sister and just ignores the thing (kid) for 7 years.
posted by TinWhistle at 10:48 AM on June 19, 2012


Oh god, "fur children".

Yeah, no, if you do that you need to stop. It is not the same in the slightest, you are just kind of ridiculous about having a pet and trying to make it something far more important than it is.
posted by Artw at 10:55 AM on June 19, 2012


someone saying that their kids were their biggest achievement.

My only problem with this is when people say it as though none of my achievements will ever measure up because I think babies are awful and never want one for any reason.
posted by elizardbits at 11:18 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those so-called joys of having and raising children in no way make up for the paths not taken, they substitute for them, sometimes badly. How can you ever get over the notion that you'd like to sail solo around the world, or become a....(roving minstrel, hermit, merchant marine, professional soldier, reside with Hef in the penthouse).

We can all romance these grand notions in our heads, but I know plenty of people who chose to become roving minstrels who were disabused of the romance after a certain while, and have begun to grow old regretting that they didn't settle down & raise a family.

That's a two-way street, and how you choose to grapple with your own angst about things done & not done in life is a personal choice, but a path is a path. I hope you choose the one that's right for you. We all do what we can do here, until we run out of time. The gradiosity or mundanity of our dreams, by comparison to one another may mean something to you as you value yourself, but again, this is a subjective thing and it sounds judgmental when read the wrong way.

I hit a point in my late 20's where the rip-roaring times and freebooting roadshow had utterly lost their lustre, and settling down began to look pretty damn prosaic by comparison. I never summited Everest or bottomed San Augustín, but I'm okay with that, in the end, and my kids are pretty damn cool people.

Also, I'm not done, yet. Although I have children, I do still have my own life, and while choices must be made with a modicum of thought to their impact on my dependents, I still make personal choices concerning the things that bring me joy apart from raising kids. When they get into their teens, you can actually leave them at home with a food bowl, or pack them off to visit friends & family, & take time for yourself. I'm re-discovering that these last couple years, and things I thought I'd given up entirely are becoming avocations again. You don't just die the day your kids are born.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:21 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


You see, I come from a larger than average family, and my youngest sister is thirteen years younger than me. This means I spent my adolescence helping my mother raise a baby. Not just go-play-with-your-cute-cousins kind of raising, but actual nappies and night feeds. She was a terrible sleeper and my parents were both working two jobs at the time, so all hands needed to be on deck to help and as the oldest a lot of the more responsible stuff fell to me.

I had a similar, though less intense experience with a brother who is twelve years younger than me. While I didn't have to step up for night feedings, I certainly was expected to help out with babysitting, diaper changes, and the like. I have washed my share of poosplosions in the sink.

It certainly impressed my wife when I changed my son's diaper for the first time, lifting the legs and whipping that clean diaper in there like a BOSS.

However, as our little guy grows and learns subtler ways of expressing displeasure, my wife is much more tolerant when he cries. It stresses me the hell out. As time passes, his crying is giving way to subtler types of whines, and we are learning which tones translate to which needs (hungry, wet, tired).

In the first few months, my wife expressed concern about my lack of desire to just sit and hold my son more often than I did. I just didn't have a lot of desire to hold him and just, I dunno, stare at him? I had to explain to her that I'm not really a baby person and that my skills would really shine when he got old enough to interact and play and laugh. He is now six months old, and she is starting to see that come to fruition as she sees me making him laugh as I bounce and swing and tickle him. Just wait until he's old enough to learn about all the silly noises I know how to make!

At this time, she is the nurturer and I am the entertainer. Although she does make him laugh, and I do walk him to sleep. Our roles will change and grow as he changes and grows.

One thing we have been determined to do, however, is not just sit home and be trapped by our baby. We still go out to dinner, but we're prepared to have to adapt when Fleebnork Jr. runs out of patience or gets sleepy. As a parent, it's not all about YOU anymore. You have to roll with it.

I have respect for those of you who have recognized within yourselves that you aren't willing to be parents. I think it will make the world a better place that you aren't parents of children that you were cajoled into having. That leads to all sorts of resentment and psychological problems, for both parent and child. Not everyone needs kids.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:03 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fleebnork: In the first few months, my wife expressed concern about my lack of desire to just sit and hold my son more often than I did. I just didn't have a lot of desire to hold him and just, I dunno, stare at him? I had to explain to her that I'm not really a baby person and that my skills would really shine when he got old enough to interact and play and laugh. He is now six months old, and she is starting to see that come to fruition as she sees me making him laugh as I bounce and swing and tickle him. Just wait until he's old enough to learn about all the silly noises I know how to make!

This is significant. "Baby" encapsulates a LOT of different phases, most of them fleeting (at least in retrospect), and being ready or excited to have a baby doesn't look the same at all times.

You can take classes on everything from the birthing process to nursing and rearing, but it doesn't mean anything until you have that little bundle of gooey person in your hands the first time. At the very first, they're pretty helpless, and you have to make sure they stay awake long enough that they eat well enough. Personal experience: our son wasn't eating long enough, and wasn't gaining weight fast enough. The longer a baby nurses at a go, the fattier the milk gets. The "good stuff" takes persistence). Chances are, you're pretty discombobulated from all the little bits of sleep you get between feedings and changings. Are you not a "baby person" if you don't ooh and awww over your child at this stage?

Then they're old enough to move around with some attempt at logic. They're putting together their thoughts and the resulting movements in their limbs, and you can see them learn how to work that little body of theirs. Still, their direct reactions to the world around them are fairy limited, especially related to what comes next.

Things get interesting when they start propelling themselves around. They wiggle and writhe around for a while (not my kid, just a random video), getting upset that their goal is still the same distance from them, or worse, getting farther away (also not my kid). You start feeling bad for the little guy or girl. And then it all clicks. The legs work in coordination with the arms, and they move ahead, and they're EVERYWHERE. Next comes standing, and walking sideways along things (not my kid).

At this point, they are under constant supervision, or confined to a safe area (where they will usually be angry that no one is playing with them). This is all within the first year, in the realms of "baby." It's easier to see a newborn and say "what's the fuss?," but when they start crawling to you, giggling when you play peek-a-boo and other silly little games, then it's a lot harder to resist their charms. You're now battling with their flailing limbs when you try to feed and/or change them, and they might even try crawling in the tub when you're trying to wash them. But when they recognize you and grin when you walk in the room ... oh, baby, I can't give you up.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:29 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife and I will be having twins...Due around mid November to early December.
My days of dicking off in front of the internet are rapidly closing.


Not really. That's the whole shitty part about naps. One of you (or just you, if you're a single parent) can't go ANYWHERE.

But you can sit and read MetaFilter. Forever. My success in my fantasy baseball league has improved 300-400% since having kids (I don't even have cable TV, which also helps.)

totally agree the biggest regrets are things one didn't do.

And yet one of the biggest regrets people have ... is not having children.

(Disclaimer: my son is only 18 months old, and I'm not a baby person, so I don't think I've yet gotten to the part that I'll really love.)

Hang in there. It gets much, much better. (There should be an "It gets better" video series for parents of newborns.) The changes in self-sufficiency from 2 to 3 to 4 are just incredibly fun and mostly positive (unless of course you enjoy changing diapers, feeding babies, dressing your child, etc.)

I know plenty of people who chose to become roving minstrels who were disabused of the romance after a certain while, and have begun to grow old regretting that they didn't settle down & raise a family.

Heh. One of my life's greatest epiphanies (thank you, random Buddhist monk somewhere) was that no matter what you do, no matter how successful you are, not matter how many of your life goals you accomplish, you will never be satisfied. Ambition is a tough road to hoe. Let it go.

When they get into their teens, you can actually leave them at home with a food bowl, or pack them off to visit friends & family, & take time for yourself.

Teens?! I've been preparing to do that at age 6! (Actually, we do ship our 4 y.o. off to her grandma's for days at a time and will do the same with our youngest once she's not a squealing monster. We just did her first night away last week.)

Kids-away-for-the-night sex must compare with conjugal-visit sex, I would think. Pretty hot stuff. And for those who actually get off on sexual denial, jeez, parenting must be heaven (lol).

The poop is the least of parenting babies. (BTW, cloth diapers were by far one of the best parenting decisions I made and I highly recommend them. They are EASY.)

The real hard part of parenting is that short-term sacrifice--the first 4 years of life are incredibly dependent, but, as they say, before you know it they will be running away from home. I'm cherishing my needy, whiny little brats as much as I can tolerate right now, because I know I'll miss them desperately when they are gone.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:50 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


But when they recognize you and grin when you walk in the room ... oh, baby, I can't give you up.

There really is no comparison to having your nine-month-old look up, see you, shriek with joy, and start hurling herself to crawl all the way across the room to hug you.

The rest of the world melts away ... which is probably one of the major appeals of parenting. It's a fucking trip, in every sense of the word (you peak about 2-3 years in and then spend ~20+ years "coming down").
posted by mrgrimm at 12:53 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


someone saying that their kids were their biggest achievement.

See, I always find this creepy because it seems so possessive. It somehow fails to acknowledge that the kid is an individual and not just a product of Totally Awesome You Inc. A lot of people become who they are despite their parents.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:03 PM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Toad:I'm so sick of the 'having a baby is the hardest thing you've ever done, or could imagine doing, and nobody without kinds could ever understand rah rah rah' rant. If if it's so fucking unimaginably terrible, why did you have a kid? Feeding the babe a couple times a night, changing diapers, and going to the playground is not that hard. Yeah, you have less time now for your favorite hobbies - surfing the internet and watching TV - boo hoo!!! I understand that there are some pretty unique challenges out there for parents of sick kids, working parents, parents of multiples, poor parents - but having kids as such isn't the monumental challenge it's made out to be. Almost anyone can do it, actually, and most will even enjoy it!
In case you were wondering, I have a 10-month old and we're doing all the 'attachment parenting' stuff that's so fashionable right now (ie she sleeps/naps with or on me since she was born and we're almost never separated) and still, I feel my identity as a grown human being is pretty intact and uncompromised...I'm still 'me', all around.


Sweet Fancy Moses, yes, thank you! I find these "humorous" articles absolutely infuriating. Is parenting hard? Sure, intermittently. The first couple weeks with Elder Monster were certainly a shock to the system, but then you just...adjust. You realize that you're not a terrible person for plopping the little dude into the swing so you can take a shower or have a pee and you figure out that when kiddo naps, you should too, and fuck the housework...and then you get over it and get into your new groove. Colic sucked, temper tantrums sucked, but in between the temporary and transient suckage, there's a lot of fun and fascination and wonder, and suddenly you've got a hilarious, interesting, curious, engaged person running about.

People like Tracy Moore, who write these screeds about how oh-so-very-hard parenting is, give me the impression that they resent their kids, and I have a hard time deciding whether to feel sorry for them or to reach out and shake them and ask them what the hell they thought was going to happen?

Or maybe it's me. Maybe I can't relate to the trials of teeny babies any more. Maybe I've forgotten how horrible it is, here in the hazy realm of having much older kids. But somehow, I don't think so.
posted by MissySedai at 1:40 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I personally find the "no comparison to my baby's smile" and "you'll never understand how utterly perfect/hard/tiring/more important parenting is" type comments the most annoying. Anything that states parenting is more privleged, more evolved mentally or spiritually than nonparenting.

And that "heart outside of your body" thing? I get it. I couldn't stand such an awful thing. I'd have panic attacks every day. No thanks. I passionately love my husband, and that's all I need. He's an adult, so I don't have to worry about him so much, or shape his development, or teach him every goddamn thing he'll need to know.
posted by agregoli at 1:56 PM on June 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyway, I'm kinda curious about what people who don't have kids want to hear about parenting... Because it really is rather life-changing in good (and bad) ways, and I don't think most parents say so in an effort to make you feel like shit.

No, but they do say it an awful lot. I completely, totally, 100% get that having children CHANGES YOUR LIFE. I also understand that until you held your child, you had NEVER UNDERSTOOD LOVE. And I get that raising children is UNIMAGINABLY HARD and yet THE MOST IMPORTANT THING you've ever done.

What I am mostly tired of is being told how I just don't understand those things. I don't know how I couldn't, when I am being told them ALL THE TIME. But more than that, what I really resent is being told that I am excluded from all of those experiences unless I have a baby. I am not, no matter how dismissive of my individual life experiences Team Parents would like to be.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:59 PM on June 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


We have a three year old. And here's why it hasn't sucked so far: because I was good with babies, and my husband is good with toddlers. Most of the time. And when one of us is having a bad day, the other one is generally having at least an ok day. And if we're both having a bad day, we have lots of family and friends to ship her off to.

I think there are a lot of "this is hard" comments and a lot of "the smiles are great" comments because those things are true. The combination of the two is hard to describe - sort of like a roller coaster at first that evens out over time? So it just sort of is what is is on an every day basis, but the things you remember are the highs and the lows.

it isn't that I think that parenting is the greatest calling in life or the most important thing or that everyone should do it. But from my world, where this is my every day existence now, it just.... is.

Is it costly? Sort of. We have to pay for daycare. But otherwise, it isn't that much more expensive. I'm not sure where this $250K thing comes from. I mean, we have to house ourselves, and kids don't take up that much room. Their stuff can take up a lot of room (and cost a lot of money), but really, all my kid needs is netflix and some blocks and we already had those. Clothes are cheap. She doesn't eat much yet. So mostly it's daycare, and a car seat. In some ways she saves us money, because we don't go out to eat as much, and we stay home to hang out instead of going to concerts or on vacation. College will cost, sure, but who knows if she'll even go? And who says we have to pay? So what's the actual impact on our finances? Daycare.

What's the cost on our relationship? That's another +/- situation. I can tell you that when I watch my husband co-parent our kid in a patient and kind and loving way, it makes me love him more. When he's doing something I find irritating with her, I still find it irritating. So it's just like everything else in our lives in that sense. Do we have less time together? Not really, it's just shared with a kid. Do we have less sex? No. Our kid sleeps in her own room and sleeps all night, and sometimes we even sneak home early from work or do it while she's napping, or even while she's playing in the other room, because we don't think sex will scar her for life. Do we fight more? I don't know - we fought a lot our first year of marriage, then we didn't, now we do sometimes, but not what I think is an unusual amount.

In the end, parenting is like everything else: what you make out of it. Sure, there's some things you can't control about a kid, but really, not a whole lot. I think what makes parenting "hard" these days is a lot of expectations set up by the parenting machine, one that pits parents against each other instead of making them into a community of support. But I think that's a different post.

Some days parenting is hard; some days its awesome; some days are mundane; most days are some of each.

I don't know who you childless people are who have friends telling you that you just don't understand. Those friends suck. Get new friends. With or without kids.
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:43 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two kids, 19 and 13. Both wonderful and loved and successful on the kiddy scale. But I always try to convince people to wait, or even not have kids, depending on who they are and why they want kids. There has never been a single day when it wasn't hard. Your kids are young while your parents are old, you do nothing but care for people. If you don't have loads of money, you are continuously torn between working to provide for your family and actually being with and caring for your family.
You never have your body to yourself - you are always somehow providing - either literally nursing or holding or caring, or more symbolically cooking or cleaning or doing laundry. Even the 19-yo still needs tons of care.
That all said, of course it's rewarding. All the time every day. And maybe I'm wrong when I advise people to wait, because now soon I have a different situation, and I still have many years of work and fun in front of me, now with two sweet and smart grown children as my back-up and happiness. And maybe even grandchildren.
Confusing, I think...
posted by mumimor at 3:34 PM on June 19, 2012


"You childless people?" People who would make me feel inferior about not being a parent are definitely not my friends. I don't need that life advice, thanks.
posted by agregoli at 3:37 PM on June 19, 2012


I get the impression from this thread that it's uncool to talk about how awesome it is but also uncool to talk about it being really hard.

It's like anything else in this world, there are good parts and there are hard parts. The hard parts you learn to do the best you can, and don't let it overwhelm you. I mean, we all drive cars, right? And there are some people who can even fly airplanes.

I think the saving grace of (moderately) bad parenting is that kids are resilient little creatures, so efforts on the part of the parent to course-correct after doing something particularly stupid as a parent are rewarded.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:47 PM on June 19, 2012


"But a baby is the ultimate, cosmic limit-tester of all ultimate cosmic limits, and no matter what you do to prepare, you will still find yourself thrown for a loop. "

Jesus, what a meaningless and stupid statement.

Gods, Jezebel is low-rent.
posted by clvrmnky at 4:48 PM on June 19, 2012


agregoli - yeah, sorry about that. It came off all wrong and I knew it as soon as I hit post. What I meant was: I don't understand people who make other people feel inferior about their lives, generally, and especially not about anything having to do with kids. Having kids or not is either 1) one of the many hundreds of choices we make in life (or the result of those choices, sometimes) or 2) one of the things we just can't control (like when you want to have kids and can't). Some days it's great and some days it sucks, whichever end of it you're on, which is no different than the way I feel about my job, or the decision to buy a house, or whatever. You do what works for you, or the best you can in that situation, so do your friends, and you should support your friends. And if you're someone whose life becomes all about your kids, or you in some other way make your friends feel inferior because they don't have, or have chose not to have, kids, well, then you suck. I just read this thread and felt like there must be a lot of those people in the world, although I've never met them. So tl;dr is fuck people like that, is all.

I still feel like I'm not articulating myself well tonight. I'll chalk that up to being sleep deprived - which has nothing to do with my kid, for once.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:25 PM on June 19, 2012


Turned out babyhood was work, toddlerhood a little tough, the real fun is nerdy teenagers who like science projects.
I actually really enjoyed my kids. We had some tough times because of not enough money but we also had fun.
Lots of fun!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:30 AM on June 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


These conversations always remind me of the time I force-fed a cherry tomato to a friend who hates tomatoes. I just couldn't wrap my head around the fact that someone wouldn't enjoy this most amazing little fruit. She made a gross face and said "No, still don't like them".

It's also part of why it's impossible that we would ever have world peace.
posted by Dynex at 9:59 PM on June 21, 2012


. I'm not sure where this $250K thing comes from. I mean, we have to house ourselves, and kids don't take up that much room...

I dunno about your kids, but mine EAT like mofos.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:40 PM on June 21, 2012


A solid three quarters of that $250,000 is diapers.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:40 AM on June 22, 2012


"You can expect to spend anywhere from $2,500-3000 in Canada on single-use diapers from beginning to end. A great cloth diaper system for the same 2 1/2 years of diapering can cost as little as $300!"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:28 AM on June 22, 2012


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