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June 22, 2014 5:47 AM   Subscribe

Dylan Moran on the differences between a weekend with and without kids.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (154 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
That was perfect.
posted by odinsdream at 5:55 AM on June 22 [4 favorites]


Here's what it's like when I talk to my fellow parents.

"What'd you wind up doing last night?"

"The usual. Put the kids to bed, and then we fell asleep."

"Us too!"

Awkward pause.

"Why isn't this coffee shop open yet? My kids have been awake for two hours!"

This stage is like being hung over all the time, except you haven't even been drinking.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:17 AM on June 22 [42 favorites]


I don't really have many other friends with kids at all. So whenever I talk to another adult who isn't a check out operator I tend to turn into someone with a very particular form of Tourette's wherein the swearing is replaced by me just shouting BABY BABY BABY over and over till the word losing all meaning.
posted by Jilder at 6:21 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


If you have them young then they get older you can spend your monied years doing stuff instead of chasing kids (just an FYI)
posted by NiteMayr at 6:22 AM on June 22 [12 favorites]


I'm a solo parent for the next week while Mr. Stardust attends his brother's wedding overseas. Last night I got the baby to bed then I watched half an episode of the Simpsons while eating dinner (salad) and went to bed. This morning baby woke me up at 5:30am. No one bothers to ask me what I do on weekends anymore because I just gesture bleary-eyed toward the child that is working on smashing open my phone on the tile floor before I shuffle back to the endless pile of laundry.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:25 AM on June 22 [22 favorites]


Also Dylan Moran is great.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:27 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


If you have them young then they get older you can spend your monied years doing stuff instead of chasing kids (just an FYI)

If you have them young you won't have any "monied years."
posted by Sys Rq at 6:32 AM on June 22 [109 favorites]


I love not having kids.
posted by thivaia at 6:37 AM on June 22 [143 favorites]


If the only alternative to having children is the Sisyphean pursuit of hipness, I imagine there's more than a few parents that are content with their decision.

But without kids, you will have enough spare time and energy to contemplate the deeper truths in life- such as whether your pizza should have stilts or not.
posted by droro at 6:40 AM on June 22 [23 favorites]


I love Dylan Moran. May as well leave a link to Black Books here as I live in fear that some people haven't seen it and I can't bear to think of such loss in the world.

I was out for dinner last night with two parents - one of toddlers and one of teenagers - and they were talking about how it never gets any easier, it's just different forms of difficult at different ages.

Parent A:"Toddler is such a picky eater, whatever I put in front of her she says 'me no want!'. I hate that she lives on about three foods but if I don't give her them she'll starve."
Parent B:"Well we're going on holidays and Teenager was trying on bikinis and I don't know whether to tell her to cover up or not because I don't want to give bad messages about her body. But her Dad's going to flip."
Me:*pours more wine, contemplates rising at 10am*
posted by billiebee at 6:55 AM on June 22 [50 favorites]


I take offense to this. I mean, yeah, he's right about the smugness of child-free people, but listen, I have never rented a hot-air balloon. It was a jetski and THIS SEEMED PERFECTLY REASONABLE.

:)
posted by Kitteh at 6:57 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


A couple of years ago, my wife and I said goodnight after a Christmas dinner where we'd eaten with my niece and nephew and immediately drove to the grocery store, bought a whole cake and some ice cream, and then ate it in bed while watching Star Trek: the Next Generation until 2:00 AM. It was the only way we could shake it off.
posted by interrobang at 7:01 AM on June 22 [43 favorites]


2 kids, 5 step kids, the youngest of which is 26 years old, all of them moved out.....

Now I have a dog that wakes me up at 5 am, insists on walking before the sun is up, barks at me for food, has expensive medical bills, needs to have her teeth cleaned, fights with her siblings (cats), and insists on my attention when I have something else to do.......

Some of us never learn.....
posted by HuronBob at 7:04 AM on June 22 [30 favorites]


It is very rare that I am jealous of a person with kids. It happens occasionally, but mostly I'm happy for their happiness, and even more happy I'm not sharing it.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:05 AM on June 22 [18 favorites]


Plus ça change...

"Kids are great. Kids are wonderful. But there are times, oh there are times...when you haven't slept, you haven't bathed, you haven't brushed your teeth in a week cause you're to busy trying to care for them. And these are the times you start to hate your friends without kids. Those of you with kids know...that single friend that calls you up one day and says "Gosh, I slept til noon and I'm still tired! Maybe I'll go out to Starbucks and get a Frappacchino."
-- Dana Carvey, 1995
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:09 AM on June 22 [7 favorites]


Yeah I should mention that the baby just supplements the cat that has for many years now been waking me up at unholy hours with her demands for food.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:11 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


NiteMayr: "If you have them young then they get older you can spend your monied years doing stuff instead of chasing kids (just an FYI)"

This. Had a kid at 25 so we were empty nesters when I was 43. Life is good.
posted by octothorpe at 7:15 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


This. Had a kid at 25 so we were empty nesters when I was 43. Life is good.

My parents are likewise having great times but you know there is a significant economic difference between our parents and us and the generation currently making this decision in that we broke the world economy for most of them.
posted by srboisvert at 7:25 AM on June 22 [56 favorites]


Dangit, my wife and I are both in our fifties now and we totally forgot to reproduce.
posted by localroger at 7:57 AM on June 22 [32 favorites]


Seen many comedians live in the last decade, and Dylan was one of the best. On (not to be taken seriously) women having no feelings.
posted by Wordshore at 8:23 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


I love not having kids.

This is the "I don't even OWN a TV" of parenting related threads.
posted by The Gooch at 8:36 AM on June 22 [95 favorites]


I love not having kids.

This is the "I don't even OWN a TV" of parenting related threads.
posted by The Gooch at 4:36 PM on June 22 [+] [!]


Oh, it's much, much more satisfying than that.
posted by Decani at 8:41 AM on June 22 [165 favorites]


To be serious for a second, we (who have children) have fewer conversations with peers who are without, but I can't think of any in which I felt the childless were being smug, and I expect the amount of uninteresting child-related stuff they have inflicted on them is far, far more extensive. Childless smugness tends to express itself more furtively, like online. Or in the sexy sex/dance party clubs they all frequent on Monday and Tuesday nights.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 8:43 AM on June 22 [17 favorites]


I'm only five months into parenthood, but a few weeks ago I posted on facebook that I was debating between getting some work done and showering and my sister commented and cheerfully suggested that I do both and man was it hard not to punch through the laptop monitor and throttle her.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:46 AM on June 22 [21 favorites]


If the only alternative to having children is the Sisyphean pursuit of hipness, I imagine there's more than a few parents that are content with their decision.

It's not the only alternative; there's also the above-mentioned pursuit of ice cream and Star Trek: TNG.

Or in our case, just generally dicking around and waiting until 11 pm to do grocery shopping, because then there's no crowds or lines. And THEN watching Star Trek.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:47 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


For my part, the "Thank god I don't have kids" declaration is not about snark or any sort of superiority--it's a completely serious expression of relief. I admire all of the parents I know, because I have always known that I am not built for that sort of thing. These posts (FPPs and comments!) just reinforce that feeling. Meanwhile: go parents, you're doing very tough work.

Also, Dylan Moylan is the best.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:54 AM on June 22 [38 favorites]


I love not having kids.

Bless your heart.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:55 AM on June 22 [25 favorites]


I've got twins (!) on the way and a tiny part of my brain keeps trying to say something about making a huge mistake but I ignore it because life is all about making mistakes. I don't need to be comfortable my whole life.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:56 AM on June 22 [14 favorites]


This is the "I don't even OWN a TV" of parenting related threads.

It's not off topic in this case, since the routine is about the imagined lives of childless people, contrasted with scraping up dried bits of breakfast cereal. It's a well done act, since both parents and non-parents can relate and laugh; a lot of the similar essays and comedy acts I've seen about this have a much sharper edge and don't work as universally.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:59 AM on June 22 [7 favorites]


It's not the only alternative; there's also the above-mentioned pursuit of ice cream and Star Trek: TNG.

Or in our case, just generally dicking around and waiting until 11 pm to do grocery shopping, because then there's no crowds or lines. And THEN watching Star Trek.


If the alternatives here are running to the pharmacy or grocery store at 11PM because someone needs formula or diapers or children's drowsiness syrup, or doing so gleefully because the lines are shorter then, I despair for adulthood in general. It's like choosing between red and blue pills that both lead to sleep pods.

P.S. For those childless folks just waking up now and feeling tempted to crow, just know that we're producing our own little Fagin's army of tiny desperate ruffians and that the streets are no longer safe except during nap shifts.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:04 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


I will add, that while I do sleep well, I do not do hip things of any sort.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:04 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Yesterday my wife was working and I was home with our 4 year old and 1.5 year old. Glorious day. I was thinking...if I were by myself today I could go for a run early, drink coffee and read for a bit, have lunch and then a short nap, and then head down to the water, fish the rising tide and then pick up Thai on the way home, watch a movie and drink the rest of the beer in the fridge. This was while one of them was screaming that the other one had pulled off the doll's dress, while I was trying to use the toilet.

...and then I felt guilty about wanting to be alone for a bit.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:11 AM on June 22 [13 favorites]


OK...so...if our lives are filled with hip activities instead of children, we suck. And if our lives are just like yours but with slightly differing grocery purchases...we suck, and also the world. Just making sure I have that right.
posted by like_a_friend at 9:11 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


Dylan Moran is a treasure. If you are unfamiliar with Black Books, check it out as soon as you can. Bernard's rejection of his rejection letter reduced me to a lump the first time I saw it.

His interview with Marc Maron is quite good as well. He tours the US every once in a while, got to see him last year and it was great.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:14 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


The thing that I rarely see is how amazingly satisfying having a kid is. Yes, it's tough and work and so what. The rewards are immense, though clearly not for everyone. All good.
posted by emmet at 9:25 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Had a kid at 25 so we were empty nesters when I was 43.

I'm 32 and if I'd had a kid at 25 it would have been the worst decision I've ever made. And I love kids. YMMV.
posted by crayz at 9:37 AM on June 22 [13 favorites]


I'm always vaguely surprised that comedians are allowed to have children. I'm always like, "Wait, YOU are a person's father?" I'm not sure if it's because comedy is sort of hip, or if it just seems like the kind of job that is unlikely to allow for that sort of thing, or what.
posted by Sara C. at 9:39 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


I was thinking...if I were by myself today I could go for a run early, drink coffee and read for a bit, have lunch and then a short nap, and then head down to the water, fish the rising tide and then pick up Thai on the way home, watch a movie and drink the rest of the beer in the fridge.

My parents did shit like this all the time when I was a kid. Not so much in the all toddlers all the time phase of childrearing that you seem to be in, but, like, yeah, when I was about 10 (and my youngest sibling barely potty trained), a typical Saturday morning in our family went like:

"Stop bothering me, I'm trying to finish my coffee."

"Where's Dad?"

"Dad's out for a run."

"What are we doing today?"

"We're going to New Orleans to look at some art galleries and then we might get Thai for dinner if you kids can behave yourself."

Usually there wasn't room for a nap in there, but there were other days when we didn't drive into the city to do a big organized activity, and naps happened on those days.

I don't entirely understand why people with kids get all weepy about never doing anything anymore. When I was a kid my parents totally did stuff, generally brought us kids along if possible, and everyone was better for it. Unless you're wistful for your days snorting coke off hookers' asses, which is entirely possible in Dylan Moran's case but unlikely for the average suburbanite.
posted by Sara C. at 9:48 AM on June 22 [41 favorites]


My life is a lot like his except I don't have kids so I feel like I'm missing out on something. Well actually I am that naive friend except I'm like "Do you watch %%TV SHOW%%" and my friends are like "My little joys don't let us watch grown up TV, they shriek." And we have this conversation every Monday because I can't wrap my head around this idea. Actually I'm jealous of their kids for it not occurring to me to just shriek whenever I don't get my way.
posted by bleep at 9:49 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Here's the big secret to having kids. Are you ready? Here it comes.

Give each other days off for a little solo time and develop a network of sitters (or couples in a similar situation) so the two parents can see a movie, or sit in a library or a coffee shop or whatever together. It's honestly not that complicated.

Hard Mode can be training them to behave in restaurants and long airline flights. It takes effort but it's not brain surgery.
posted by codswallop at 10:03 AM on June 22 [7 favorites]


crayz: "Had a kid at 25 so we were empty nesters when I was 43.

I'm 32 and if I'd had a kid at 25 it would have been the worst decision I've ever made. And I love kids. YMMV.
"

Well, it wasn't exactly a decision.
posted by octothorpe at 10:13 AM on June 22 [13 favorites]


My mom had me when she was 23. It worked out all right. (Especially when you realize as an adult that your mom is really young compared to friends' moms and even your own husband's parents.)
posted by Kitteh at 10:16 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


While "having kids," I never experienced any conflicted feelings internally or externally regarding being "child free," so the constant Internet debate between the "two camps" always seemed a little strange. You don't have to pick sides, y'know.

And what age to have kids? Well, I think I heard that 40% of pregnancies are unplanned. So, yeah, there are arguments on both sides, but sometimes you just take the hand that's dealt you. Having a child at 40 worked for us, and for our smart happy laughing 22-year old. I have great memories of a couple decades of decadence and a couple decades of child-rearing. No complaints here. Oh, and, yeah, funny guy: I appreciate the introduction to a new comedian.

Our daughter has a Darwin's finch tattoo. She has talked us into getting three matching tattoos this summer (there's Japanese blood in our family, and my wife and I were both born in the Year of the Dragon, so you can guess what the tattoo will look like).
posted by kozad at 10:28 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Mind you, my kid is now 25 and really I'd rather he and his girlfriend wait a bit until they have their own. Things are a lot more expensive now.
posted by octothorpe at 10:33 AM on June 22


To be fair, us childless people lose both ways. If we say we went out and had a great time, we're being jerks chasing hipness. If we say all we did was stay in, sleep, and not have our homes covered with cereal and juices and human waste, then we're even worse. ;)
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:35 AM on June 22 [28 favorites]


THANK YOU GOOD SIRS FOR LIFESTYLE ADVICE WHAT THINK YOU OF CIRCUMCISION AND DECLAWING?
posted by benzenedream at 10:36 AM on June 22 [24 favorites]


I don't entirely understand why people with kids get all weepy about never doing anything anymore.

It's not that I get all weepy, it's just that I've been working hard at work for two weeks, last weekend my wife worked 8:30-6 Sat and Sun and I haven't really had time to myself for a good while.

Yes it's possible to do stuff with your children, but it's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have them that once in a while you need a break, and you need to not feel bad about that, and that it's really not very wonderful to have others chide you for not wanting to be with your your kids 24/7.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:37 AM on June 22 [7 favorites]


Give each other days off for a little solo time and develop a network of sitters (or couples in a similar situation) so the two parents can see a movie, or sit in a library or a coffee shop or whatever together. It's honestly not that complicated.

Thanks, I'd never thought of that.
posted by jimmythefish at 10:38 AM on June 22 [19 favorites]


Funny thing, though. If your parents were childless, chances are you will be too.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:41 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I like it when people tell me I should have had my baby 10-15 years ago. There's not much I can do about that now. Until I was 33, I was pretty sure I didn't want any kids, and even when I did decide to have one it was less a sense that something was missing from my life and more a decision to commit to the experiment. If it hadn't worked out in the baby-making dept, I doubt it would have affected me much. But I'm glad the little dude is here even if I suspect my stamina is less than it would have been decades ago. Financially and from a relationship perspective, it's much easier over 30.

I don't begrudge the childfree their sleep and late night awesome activities. I did lots of that until I was 35, so, cool, keep it up. I am glad there are people out there who choose not to have kids. It shows a level of thoughtfulness and care about reproduction that can only be a good thing. Also, maybe it will spare my boy from having to eat Soylent Green in a nightmarish Malthusian future.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 10:41 AM on June 22 [11 favorites]


it's really not very wonderful to have others chide you for not wanting to be with your your kids 24/7.

Who's doing this?

My general reaction to the weird cloistered suburban kidcentric life is that it's a lose-lose proposition which is bad for both the parents and the children.

Is it judgment from other parents? Some weird voice in your own head? Is this like the parental version of "you're fat and nobody will ever want to fuck you"?
posted by Sara C. at 10:44 AM on June 22 [4 favorites]


I was thinking...if I were by myself today I could go for a run early, drink coffee and read for a bit, have lunch and then a short nap, and then head down to the water, fish the rising tide and then pick up Thai on the way home, watch a movie and drink the rest of the beer in the fridge.

I call this sort of day "Sunday."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:45 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


My Little Creatures are turning 4 and 6 in a few months and I can confirm that quality of life improves as they age. It's still frustrating as all hell sometimes but the frequency reduces over time.

Now if I can figure out how to get the older one to feed himself in the morning* then I can get an hour or two of sleep back




*actually he can feed himself fine...he just wants Daaaady to make him some toast because I am the best toast-butterer
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:46 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


For a really awesome, judgement-free, honest take on parenting, listen to One Bad Mother. It's a MaxFun podcast that I have listened to all of in the past few weeks (while I'm cleaning and my toddler is napping, or while I drive to the store, or while I drive to work, etc.)
posted by Night_owl at 10:49 AM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Who's doing this?

I could try to explain, but it's just as easy for you to stop at 'I don't understand...'
posted by jimmythefish at 10:54 AM on June 22 [5 favorites]


it's really not very wonderful to have others chide you for not wanting to be with your your kids 24/7.

I thought we were chiding you for insisting on being with your kids 24/7.
posted by bleep at 10:55 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


THANK YOU GOOD SIRS FOR LIFESTYLE ADVICE WHAT THINK YOU OF CIRCUMCISION AND DECLAWING?

Thank you for asking. I think that if circumcision's resulted, declawing might be pretty tempting.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 11:00 AM on June 22 [6 favorites]


More specifically:

My parents did shit like this all the time when I was a kid. Not so much in the all toddlers all the time phase of childrearing that you seem to be in, but, like, yeah, when I was about 10

That's like 10 years glossed over as not doing all this glorious stuff. Minor point I guess. A decade.

Recalling parenting techniques of your parents as your experience with kids is the equivalent of recalling how the arrest went from the perspective of the guy high on meth dangling from a clock tower with no pants on. Maybe not that accurate. Definitely of no use to me.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:00 AM on June 22 [51 favorites]


it's really not very wonderful to have others chide you for not wanting to be with your your kids 24/7.

I thought we were chiding you for insisting on being with your kids 24/7.


The neat thing about parenting is that you get the chiding no matter what you do.
posted by Daily Alice at 11:04 AM on June 22 [21 favorites]


The neat thing about parenting is that you get the chiding no matter what you do.

I think this is why I just feel like, you know, do whatever the hell you want. If your kids are eating and going to school and not covered in human feces, you're fine.

It really is the parental version of "nobody will ever want you" or "you're fat" or "why do you ruin everything". We're always going to feel like shit for every choice we make. That's part of the deal. So you just recognize those feelings of judgment for what they are and do whatever works. Any other way of living is madness.
posted by Sara C. at 11:13 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


The neat thing about parenting is that you get the chiding no matter what you do.

I think everyone and no one is getting chided in this thread and no one likes it.
posted by bleep at 11:18 AM on June 22


I'm chidefree, myself.
posted by interrobang at 11:20 AM on June 22 [31 favorites]


The thing that I rarely see is how amazingly satisfying having a kid is. Yes, it's tough and work and so what. The rewards are immense, though clearly not for everyone. All good.
posted by emmet at 9:25 AM on June 22 [1 favorite +] [!]

"The thing no-one tells you is how funny they are," a friend with two small kids once told me. I still don't want any of my own, but hers was one of the more convincing arguments I've come across.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:28 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I was visiting my nieces today and the 2 year old was doing her song and dance to "Let It Go", and for no reason that I could explain to anyone who wasn't there all the adults had actual tears of laughter running down our faces. Those are the moments I think I could live with.

(then later she sneezed and I swear to fuck half her brains came out through her face and as I ran to get tissue she smeared it with the back of her hand from ear to ear and I was once again at peace with being child free)
posted by billiebee at 11:37 AM on June 22 [16 favorites]


The thing that I rarely see is how amazingly satisfying having a kid is

Well that's the thing, and it's often the bit that gets glossed over by parents as a given - you love your kids with an emotion you didn't know existed before you had them. It's a new feeling. It's like there's a piece of you removed, running around and able to get hurt. The spectre of that hangs over everything. Life becomes delicate and impermanent.

They're so wonderful in so many ways, and I would die for them, and yet I can perfectly rationalize a decision on whether or not I would have had them. I'm perhaps more sympathetic than most at the decision for people to not have kids, because it was a hard decision either way for me.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:37 AM on June 22 [10 favorites]


On the one hand my kid and I fight constantly because he needs to not moon people but won't pull up his goddamn pants or let me do it. On the other hand he tells me to call him "sensei" when he teaches me Minecraft. In conclusion, parenting is a land of contrasts.
posted by emjaybee at 11:46 AM on June 22 [40 favorites]


My mom back east acts as sort of a clan baby-sitter for the cousins. This way once in a while the kids can get dropped of at Aunt Gerry's and their parents can have a few hours (or even a night) off. How people pull this parent thing off without some sort of extended family built-in babysitting is beyond me.

I'm sure mom would have liked to have had some of her OWN grandchildren to look after, but that's not happening. MAYBE if we lived where we could take advantage of the clan baby-sitting action, things might be different. But not on our own out in California.

I have LITERALLY had the recurring conversation w/ myself along the lines of "I'm 45 w/out kids and loving it, but that means I have to be ready to run into the street try to save a random toddler even if that means I get run over accomplishing it."

I try to condition my mind to the idea that I would risk my life to save your random child, just as long as there's no "And now I have to take it home and keep it and I get graded on how well that turns out" codicil.

That makes absolute sense to me as a background to my life and my part as a member of society.

Fuck, I'm a bartender. I can't IMAGINE what it must be like to be a COMEDIAN w kids. I commute on BART & bus, not a 747.

Also per Dylan, don't leave the city for the Countryside.

Because getting hit by a MUNI bus running to save a wandering urchin seems less horrible than getting caught in a big mechanical farming.... thing.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:58 AM on June 22 [1 favorite]


For my part, the "Thank god I don't have kids" declaration is not about snark or any sort of superiority--it's a completely serious expression of relief. I admire all of the parents I know, because I have always known that I am not built for that sort of thing. These posts (FPPs and comments!) just reinforce that feeling. Meanwhile: go parents, you're doing very tough work.

I'm a parent of two kids, and I harbor not the slightest ill will towards those who've chosen not to have kids. It is a constant effort to keep another person (or several) alive. Literally. There's plenty of reasons not to choose that path. For my part, being a parent, even though it's insanely hard, is a very rewarding experience that I've only just now started. But man, those brief respites are so delicious. Recently I was traveling solo for work. I realized when I was driving back to my hotel room that I had no actual reason to go to sleep, so went to an Italian restaurant, drank half a bottle of wine, had dessert, went to another place and ate more dessert, saw two movies, then went to bed.

It was delightful, and in no way compared to being hugged by my daughter when I got home.
posted by odinsdream at 12:01 PM on June 22 [9 favorites]


If the only alternative to having children is the Sisyphean pursuit of hipness, I imagine there's more than a few parents that are content with their decision.

I think you're missing the part where it is entirely possible to interpret the hot air balloon and the French movies and the .. and the pizza on stilts as genuinely (or at least potentially) fun, not simply hip.
posted by maryr at 12:12 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


I think you're missing the part where it is entirely possible to interpret the hot air balloon and the French movies and the .. and the pizza on stilts as genuinely (or at least potentially) fun, not simply hip.

And OMG, srsly, like, nobody hot air balloons anymore. That is totes soooo 2009.
posted by thivaia at 12:21 PM on June 22


Well, you don't want to get back in line for the hot air balloon, it's like two hours long. It's worth spending the money to just hire it for the night.
posted by maryr at 12:25 PM on June 22


(Which is what everybody does which is why the waits are so long.)
posted by maryr at 12:26 PM on June 22


(...I may have had a dinner experience a bit like that this past week.)
posted by maryr at 12:27 PM on June 22


Just got back from the lake where we went wake boarding this weekend with the kid, and friends and their kids, but that's cool, we can all be caricatures and you can tell me, smugly, how my life obviously sucks.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:42 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


This topic was always going to evolve/derail into a kids vs no kids discussion, but really....Dylan Moran IS great, Black Books was great, and the best line in that is "what did you do? well, I scrapped hardened Weetabix off a table for 2 and a half hours and then tried to take a shit".

Because hardened into concrete breakfast cereal is no joke, people, its for real, and 2 and a half hours is underestimating the job.

The rest of the joke is obvious hyperbole for effect.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:46 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Now I have a dog that wakes me up at 5 am, insists on walking before the sun is up, barks at me for food, has expensive medical bills, needs to have her teeth cleaned, fights with her siblings (cats), and insists on my attention when I have something else to do.......

I was commiserating with a fellow dog-owning coworker the other day about how having a dog can kinda take over your life in a way most people don't realize. Then I remembered that she has a toddler, and was sort of like "oh, of course it's nothing compared to having a kid." Because I don't want to be one of THOSE asshole child-free people who insinuate that she Understands because she has a dog.

But she was like "meh, it was pretty good preparation. People ask me if I miss the freedom now that I have a kid, and I'm like 'what are you talking about? I had two dogs before I had a kid. At least I can take the kid to the supermarket.'"
posted by lunasol at 12:47 PM on June 22 [15 favorites]


We married young (22) but did not have our daughter until we were 38, so we got all those carefree (ha!) child-free years in and by the time the kid came along we were tied down to busy jobs and a house and other adult obligations, so staying home every night and collapsing in exhaustion at 9:30 was pretty much what we were up for anyway. We definitely felt the yoke of oppression a bit at the beginning, when childcare is at its neediest/dirtiest, but a)we adapted and 2)the kid got older and things lightened up. Of course, we limited ourselves to just one sprog, and I think that probably makes a big difference.
posted by briank at 12:49 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


I would like to see a Dylan Moran segment on people who have dogs talking to people who don't have dogs.
posted by bluesky43 at 1:14 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


billiebee: "(then later she sneezed and I swear to fuck half her brains came out through her face and as I ran to get tissue she smeared it with the back of her hand from ear to ear and I was once again at peace with being child free)"

A couple weeks ago we were at a family party, where my five-year-old sneakily convinced every single one of his aunts and uncles (of whom there are many), individually and separately, to give him a piece of cake and a soda, and then ran around for several hours. We were all hanging out and he was playing with trucks or something, while my as-yet childless sister and sister-in-law were talking about how adorable my children are and how fun it must be to have kids and how, sure, parenting is hard but it's super-rewarding --

My five-year-old chose that moment to throw up all that cake and soda all over their strappy-sandaled feet.

I laughed until I cried, I couldn't help it.

A couple Christmasses ago all my siblings and inlaws were totally freaked out when my toddler bit his tongue, came over and demanded "MOMMY KISS IT" and stuck out his tongue and I did. I was like, "Guys, this is not even the grossest thing I've done in the past hour."

My kids might not be getting cousins.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:21 PM on June 22 [46 favorites]


Give each other days off for a little solo time and develop a network of sitters (or couples in a similar situation) so the two parents can see a movie, or sit in a library or a coffee shop or whatever together.

After our daughter was born our friends assumed that they would never see us again, but we did the "one stays home, one goes out thing," so that each of us would still have adult human contact. Our friends were honestly amazed that parents could actually do that. On the other hand both me and my wife always had our "alone time," i.e., we didn't have to always do things as a couple, so that was an extension of that.
posted by jscalzi at 1:40 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


briank: " Of course, we limited ourselves to just one sprog, and I think that probably makes a big difference."

Absolutely. Having a second child was way more than twice as hard as one. I assume a third is basically infinity harder than two.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:56 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


My sister has an actual scar from scraping her arm on hardened instant oatmeal that had been slowly sharpened on the kitchen table over an indeterminate period of time.
posted by maryr at 2:10 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Sometimes, I think I hit the jackpot. I don't really want kids, although I get to be around my friends' kids a lot, and I think they like me because as long as no one's getting hurt, I really don't give a shit. Want to chase me in the park? Cool. Cover my other arm with stickers to match my tattooed arm? Okay. We're going to do a puzzle now? Rock on.
My whatever he happens to be this week has two. And they are adults! As in, in college. Smart, mostly level-headed, and ambitious - all the things I wasn't and he wasn't when WE were in college. So, yeah, he likes to hang out with his kids, and they like to hang out with him. And then he has time to do stuff he wants to do and do stuff with me and I have time to do stuff I want to do. There's an age gap, and he doesn't want any more kids - score. His kids want to be parents. Wins all around!
The only difficulty is when he tries to explain "parent thing" to me and I attempt to explain "childfree thing" to him, but we try to meet on common ground.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 2:13 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


I spend a lot of time wondering if a lot of the stock complaints of parents don't have a lot to do with the fact that the age people typically have kids is the age people tend to stop partying all night and chasing the latest trendiest thing, period. Like, I'm 33 but don't have kids, and half my "so what did you do this weekend" conversations with 24 year old coworkers sound a lot like that to me, too.
posted by Sara C. at 2:16 PM on June 22 [12 favorites]


Absolutely. Having a second child was way more than twice as hard as one. I assume a third is basically infinity harder than two.

There's a curve where they start entertaining each other, so it levels off. But I'm happy with just one, she's an engaging little dude.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:21 PM on June 22


I assume a third is basically infinity harder than two.

I don't have kids, but somebody once told me, "With three, you can't do a man defense anymore, you gotta start playing zone."
posted by jcreigh at 2:23 PM on June 22 [21 favorites]


Sebmojo: "Having a second child was way more than twice as hard as one. I assume a third is basically infinity harder than two."
"There's a curve where they start entertaining each other, so it levels off.
"

There's also a level of chaos beyond which you can no longer tell when it increases, people with three and four and more tell me.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:24 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I have a kid (just the one) and my boss has 11. I sometimes forget this and we'll be having a conversation about something and all of a sudden I'll realize that the "family vacation" he's talking about involved himself, his wife and 11 other people and I'll be paralyzed by this knowledge. BUT HOW? I think to myself.

His family owns 18 bicycles. I found this out when I was jokily complaining about my wife complaining about the 3 I keep around the house.
posted by RustyBrooks at 2:34 PM on June 22 [17 favorites]


This. Had a kid at 25 so we were empty nesters when I was 43. Life is good.

Well look at that, it really is possible to be more insufferable than the childless.
posted by dry white toast at 2:34 PM on June 22 [16 favorites]


"... I have to be ready to run into the street try to save a random toddler even if that means I get run over accomplishing it."

Yeah, no, that sounds dangerous.
posted by um at 2:35 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


People who are happy with their life choices are not doing anything impolite by saying so, nor are they necessarily implying by default that the different choices you made are bad.

Honest.
posted by kyrademon at 2:44 PM on June 22 [25 favorites]


If you grow up in a big (8 kids) household (catholic farmers, double whammy), I believe parenthood is just an extension of being a big brother (sister). I changed diapers on all 7 of my younger siblings (primdehuit, eh?), and when we had our 2 sons (she is also of a double whammy family of 8 kids), it didn't seem like that much a chore at all, just something we did and was expected of us. We had our times with our 2 sons of "Power Ranger Poisoning" (jumping off the couch to cream your little brother) and such, but I've got two words for you folks not fortunate enough to grow up in Giant Families (I knew many families growing up with more kids than we had in our family).


"Joyful Burden"


It has its pleasures, too, as you may find out when you're older....
posted by primdehuit at 2:56 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I don't entirely understand why people with kids get all weepy about never doing anything anymore. When I was a kid my parents totally did stuff, generally brought us kids along if possible, and everyone was better for it. Unless you're wistful for your days snorting coke off hookers' asses, which is entirely possible in Dylan Moran's case but unlikely for the average suburbanite.

I love having kids, but I can answer this question, I think, in a way that is true for many people. You have to have the right kind of kids, and perhaps be the right kind of adventurous parent, to make it feel like it's worth it at times (you sounded like awesome kids with awesome parents!). Else it can feel like more of the same, plus some extra hassle for adding something different to the routine and throwing someone off. It sort of sours a good cultural experience. So, basically it's adding the effort of actually getting somewhere to what you normally slog through anyway, plus some extra hassle thrown in there as well. You get home more tired and way less socialized that you expected, and it sort of makes you think twice the next time you'd do it.

It's not always like that, of course, and not for everyone. For those who it is, once in awhile you have an awesome time with all of the kids with their myriad emotional needs because the stars aligned right, and you entertain the thought that maybe things could be like this all the time. Then some time again soon you realize you'll have to find joy in other simpler things for awhile until the kids get a bit older if you don't want to feel wasted all the time.

But then (I'm starting to realize this is true now as the kids get older), as the kids get older, you can really start to enjoy all of the things that you always used to enjoy, but now you have awesome new people to enjoy it with (who used to need everything and now have some semblance of independence), because you've put time in with them and developed a depth of love and appreciation that you haven't gotten from any of your relationships up until this point (except perhaps your SO).

For some, it's the long game you play, and like most things that are worth having, there's an direct relationship between the initial effort involved and the eventual payoff. Sometimes that means conserving your energy and just staying home for awhile.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:04 PM on June 22 [11 favorites]


I don't entirely understand why people with kids get all weepy about never doing anything anymore. When I was a kid my parents totally did stuff, generally brought us kids along if possible, and everyone was better for it. Unless you're wistful for your days snorting coke off hookers' asses, which is entirely possible in Dylan Moran's case but unlikely for the average suburbanite.

Every time I try to do something awesome with my kid there are childless people complaining that he's there and that children exist.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:05 PM on June 22 [21 favorites]


The basic rule about kids is that the first takes up 50 percent of your time, so you have to put your entire rest-of-life through 2:1 compression. Which is painful, but doable without going insane.

The second takes up another 50 percent of your time. At which point, you're screwed with respect to what else you thought you were doing. Subsequent kids, well, you're already out beyond Pluto.

I had my one and only offspring at 20, which is clearly not how most people do it. However, given that at 20 you haven't built up any sort of inertial chunk of life-stuff you expect to be permanent and needing significant tending, I found it worked out rather well. It also means you get to defer certain aspects of 20-hood until you're 40, with more money and experience to spend, and there are quite a lot of significant points of contact with Devonian Jr that come from us having grown up together.

I do, however, have a strong desire to see all children from hereon in taken from their parents at birth and deposited in vats in some far-off island, to be matured through virtual reality and only released back into the world once they've proven themselves civilised human beings. But that may be due to my lifestyle involving long periods in buses, trains and aeroplanes where feral families roam.
posted by Devonian at 3:07 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


Every time I try to do something awesome with my kid there are childless people complaining that he's there and that children exist.

If I were honest, that does play into my social calculus in trying to figure out if certain outings that require a herculean effort and our new minivan (it's cool though) is worth it. My wife would rightly say that this is my social anxiety that I need to deal with, and she is a lot more adventurous than I am. But I'm also the guy who doesn't want to deal with other people's attitudes about children on top of everything else that is going on just to make it happen. I do wonder if attitudes about children and where they should be has changed in recent years, which contributes to a pressure to stay home more often, or simply develop a tougher psyche (yeah, I really feel like working on that right now in my free time). I suspect that our social move towards "self-actualization" in careers and activities (which includes a right to a noise free environment or something) has smothered a bit the efforts of people who want to include kids in cultural activities.

I do, however, have a strong desire to see all children from hereon in taken from their parents at birth and deposited in vats in some far-off island, to be matured through virtual reality and only released back into the world once they've proven themselves civilized human beings. But that may be due to my lifestyle involving long periods in buses, trains and aeroplanes where feral families roam.

See! I knew it!
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:15 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I spend a lot of time wondering if a lot of the stock complaints of parents don't have a lot to do with the fact that the age people typically have kids is the age people tend to stop partying all night and chasing the latest trendiest thing, period.

It was something like midnight on Saturday at a little music festival out in the desert last year, and I was on my way back toward the music after refilling my water bottle. I passed by a camp where a bunch of my friends were hanging out. One of them had brought his toddler, who had just gotten up after a few hours' nap; after finishing his juice, the kiddo grabbed his dad's pants leg and started pulling in the direction of the dance floor. After getting no immediate response, he started bouncing up and down in a rough approximation of the beat, as though to remind his dad what he was missing. Everyone cracked up. So we all went down to the bonfire together, my friend clapped a big pair of hearing protectors on the kid, and we all danced like it was the best thing ever. Which it basically was. And I thought: there is hope for humanity yet.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:01 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Subsequent kids, well, you're already out beyond Pluto.

Thinking more about it, this may have been why my parents just gave up and were like, "welp, guess we're taking the kids" and decided to give nary a fuck and just have lives and hobbies and drag us along. Because when you have four kids, it's going to suck no matter what. Better to corral everyone into pants and shoes and the minivan and end up at something they had some vague interest in, than to do the same thing for some kiddie-centric activity, or just sit around the house and deal with us.

Also just generally I think they figured out early on that they needed to carve out space for themselves to drink coffee and read the paper and go for runs and the like, because the four of us were going to continue to exist either way.
posted by Sara C. at 4:04 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


As a parent, I am going to begin abstaining from any kind of parenting thread on Metafilter because they just end up making me really, really sad.
posted by zardoz at 4:22 PM on June 22 [7 favorites]


It's really easy for both sides on the childed/childfree debate to be smug.

I don't have kids. In my case that decision is linked to a genetic disorder in my partner's family which we have chosen not to pass on. We’ve been together since I was 18; I’m 44 now. I have never felt the biological clock, or held someone else’s baby and gone all clucky. I honestly don’t know if I’m just lucky because I’m not inclined to have children by nature, or whether my body and mind have just synced up because I’ve always known that if I stay with my partner I will not have children.

I don’t like to play the “genetic disorder” card but I do pull it out when faced with having my choices examined, dissected or questioned by people whose business it is not. (I know parents face a lifetime of criticism as well, but it seems to be more about how they parent; few people will question why people have kids or whether they should).

I resent being called “smug” by people who don’t even know why I don’t have kids, or haven’t heard me speak about being childfree. I can see why some people find the childfree smug when they talk about the advantages of a childfree life. Some parents can seem smug too; some imply that having children moves people onto an entirely new moral and emotional plane of existence. I think that can be a defensive position too; when you’re swapping war stories with other parents, of course you want to remind yourselves of the good parts. It’s implied that the challenges are difficult but the joys are the absolute pinnacle of joys. That may be the case, I’m almost certain it is the case, at least for some; but I’ll never know. I have accepted that I will never know and I'm OK with that. I do have nurturing instincts, and I do have fears about lonely old age; but regret and fear are part of life.

It’s easy to turn smug, on either side, as a defensive response to either having your choices constantly criticised. This one-upmanship is tiring and pointless, and entirely avoidable. I have many, many friends with kids, as well as many friends without kids, and I don’t believe any of us ever see the others as “smug”. Compromise is part of life, and accepting other peoples’ choices should also be part of that.
posted by andraste at 4:33 PM on June 22 [48 favorites]


Nice, andraste. Said well.


If you have them young you won't have any "monied years."

Oh God, thivaia, don't I know it! There's never going to be any "monied years" for us, but dang, there's four more people in this world I really like being with.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:54 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I am childfree by choice but am at that age where everyone believes I will change my mind in in five years time. My family have completely written me off as crazy and don't even ask me anymore as they literally don't believe there is such a thing as being "childfree as choice" in the same way that they believe that no brown person can be gay. It's an interesting form of denial.

Anyway. I never get the smug on either side of the fence. I'm sure there are a few people who regret having kids and a few that regret not. I love my sleep-ins and free weekends but I can fully accept that there are those that much prefer to have that time with children that they are raising and love and adore and turning them into really cool tiny humans. Not everyone wants to watch Star Trek all the time (although I watched 12 episodes of DS9 yesterday) and that's okay. Different priorities and all that.
posted by liquorice at 5:26 PM on June 22 [11 favorites]


I can see I'm in the minority here, coming from a Big Family ( I honestly don't remember my Mom when she wasn't pregnant (8 kids, 3-4 miscarriages), but it's like a small boarding school where everyone is related, only with benevolent pat(mat)riarchs. We all felt very safe, (even thought I have 2 bros missing parts 'cause of farm accidents), and felt special when we were the one who got to go to the city with either one of our parents. I think this sense of mutual shared camaraderie is harder to achieve with <2 kids. That being said, there's a lot to be said for good Uncles/Aunts.

Think of it: Uncle/Aunthood All of the fun, almost no responsibility. I still like some of my Uncles and Aunts in a better an different way than my Own Folks.

The other thing is when you teach 'em (your own kids, nieces, nephews) something and eventually they run with it and surpass you. Best complement ever, and it don't even have to be said.

You just never know what you're gonna get; that time you (or your bros/sisses) roll the (genetic) dice, but it's a hella fun ride either way, (Uncle or parent).

I know I'm not supposed to do this, but this topic is very dear to my heart, so I'm signing off as




UncleLouis
posted by primdehuit at 5:51 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


What works for one family will not work for all, and big prescriptive statements in threads like these rarely help anything.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:57 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


ChuraChura,

I wasn't sure if this was directed at (us) me, but choose your battles YYMV. Worked for Us.
Ignore us at will. I'm sure there are Evil Uncles/Aunts, too. I was just trying to put in an Attaboy for those folks who may have not had the benefit of our (my families) experiences. I only comment at the bottom of threads, and even then, seldom. You're why.
posted by primdehuit at 6:05 PM on June 22


Nope, not directed at you!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:19 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Primdehuit, I enjoyed reading your comment and hearing your perspective, FWIW.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:25 PM on June 22


while I'm in the camp that finds having children enormously fulfilling, there's a bittersweet side to it that I hadn't anticipated. I've got one who's 18 and one who's 16 and lately I find myself quite sad that it's all gone by so fast. Not that I won't enjoy them as adults too but I didn't get enough time with them at all the preceding stages. I wouldn't disagree with the suggestion that having children has a large selfish component but I find in life there is the potential for regrets or at least wonder with any decision. I could be happy with or without kids but they're different kinds of happiness and not really comparable. My son recently said "kids are mistakes that you don't regret" which sums it up quite nicely.
posted by sineater at 7:13 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I assume a third is basically infinity harder than two.

Yes, but after three it doesn't get any harder, because the older ones start to pitch in and the younger ones get a certain portion of their love and affection needs met by their older sibs. I had 7. It's been a whirlwind, but now with teenagers to cut grass and bake cookies, and no diapers, bottles or babies in bed for the first time in 16 years, home affairs are finally showing signs of calm.
posted by BinGregory at 7:33 PM on June 22


andraste put it very well. But I would just add that there is a difference with parents, in that they know both the childless life as well as the child-full life. Non parents can't claim this. Don't attack, I come in peace! Not saying that parents are better people because of this, but parents do, generally speaking have dual perspective on the matter. I spent my twenties and half of my thirties child-free. I know what that is, namely because I don't have that lifestyle anymore, and honestly it's a double edged sword: somethings I miss but other things I don't. So on a value basis, I call it a draw, not that these kinds of things can really be quantified on some sort of life quality scoreboard. But I can understand both not wanting kids (in my twenties) as well as really wanting kids (in my thirties), wheres a lot of folks on both "sides" are very polarized on the matter.

(See, I said I wasn't gonna chime in on these threads but look what happened...)
posted by zardoz at 7:41 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


But that's sort of the thing though, zardoz. I also didn't want kids in my twenties… but I still didn't want my own kids in my thirties. That isn't to say that I'm doing the same things or have the exact same values I did in my twenties. It's just that now I don't want to have kids for different reasons. I've grown, my life has changed and I've simply come to the same conclusion by different means. I mention this only because when some people criticize this choice (not you- no offense taken!), they imply that I'm somehow arrested in development. When I'm in my forties and still childless, I won't be the same person you were in your twenties when you were childless. I think this conversation is too frequently centered on a binary choice: kids vs. no kids, but there are an infinite number of ways to relate to, enjoy, and help raise children.
posted by Thin Lizzy at 8:29 PM on June 22 [8 favorites]


There are also lots of people who just don't have kids, for like whatever reason or no reason, and it has nothing at all to do with wanting a certain "lifestyle".
posted by Sara C. at 8:33 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


Wait, wait, people have conversations with other people? With other adult people?
posted by newdaddy at 9:03 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


On the one hand my kid and I fight constantly because he needs to not moon people but won't pull up his goddamn pants or let me do it. On the other hand he tells me to call him "sensei" when he teaches me Minecraft.
Wait, how is it possible to have a kid who is both into Minecraft and not perfectly behaved? I'm sure that a century from now people will look at my "finish your writing quickly or we won't have time for a half hour of Minecraft" parenting style as a more modern equivalent of "if you don't churn all that butter there will be no opium for you!", but for some reason in 2014 I can still expose my kid to one form of addiction without being a social pariah, and I'm totally taking advantage of it.
A couple Christmasses ago all my siblings and inlaws were totally freaked out when my toddler bit his tongue, came over and demanded "MOMMY KISS IT" and stuck out his tongue and I did.
Now I'm feeling bad for not giving in when my 1 year old fell on his ass. In my defense, I had a toddler demanding "Daddy, kiss butt!" and I did manage to comfort him rather than break down laughing.
posted by roystgnr at 9:03 PM on June 22 [4 favorites]


We're taking our 8 1/2-year-old daughter with us to see the Replacements in Forest Hills in September. That is all.
posted by AJaffe at 9:04 PM on June 22 [6 favorites]


A weekend with or without kids is not the same as a life with or without kids.
posted by vapidave at 9:30 PM on June 22


If you have them young you won't have any "monied years."

What ? No.

I had a kid at 23 and, he moved out when I was 40. He's largely independent now, which means I don't have to spend much on him. But it also means I don't have to waste days off on his sick days, or doctor appointments, or chaperoning field trips, or what have you.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed being a parent and having little people around. But you know - Achievement Unlocked - and now my wife and I are yuppie DINKs. I'm making far more now than I ever dreamed when he was born, and I still have a good 10-15 years of income ahead of me and I am well young enough to really enjoy it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:10 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


But I would just add that there is a difference with parents, in that they know both the childless life as well as the child-full life. Non parents can't claim this.

Yyyeah, but - I also come in peace - I'm not sure how much of that knowing is knowing true things versus having new sets of cognitive biases thrown onto you by biology.

I mean, by the same token (almost) all parents have had the experience of being teenagers, but something in the process of raising kids or just aging seems to render many parents incapable of really understanding that experience. Similarly, just because parents were once childless doesn't necessarily imply that they (still) understand the state of being childless.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:20 PM on June 22 [9 favorites]


If you have them young you won't have any "monied years."

Oh God, thivaia, don't I know it! There's never going to be any "monied years" for us, but dang, there's four more people in this world I really like being with.


I didn't actually say the thing about monied years. And as such, I think your four people are awesome. PS--I love monied people. They have the kind of parties that justify my buying a new dress.
posted by thivaia at 10:25 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


I love not having kids.

I did too. I also love having kids.

But this post is crap. Insufferable whiners, all of you. (Now me too!)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:27 PM on June 22 [2 favorites]


As someone on the fence about having a kid in the next few years, this thread has basically glued my ass to the fence.
posted by jklaiho at 11:04 PM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I will never have children. I made this decision when I was 18, acknowledging that I am genetically defective. I don't regret it. My parents (Catholic) had four kids and did as little as they could do to raise us.

My cousin (once removed) is staying with me for awhile. He's 17 and a real asshole and I love him to death. And he knows I love him. I will never have kids, but this one boy will be okay, I think.
posted by SPrintF at 11:18 PM on June 22 [1 favorite]


Thinking more about it, this may have been why my parents just gave up and were like, "welp, guess we're taking the kids" and decided to give nary a fuck and just have lives and hobbies and drag us along. Because when you have four kids, it's going to suck no matter what. Better to corral everyone into pants and shoes and the minivan and end up at something they had some vague interest in, than to do the same thing for some kiddie-centric activity, or just sit around the house and deal with us.

It also may be that societal pressures about how you raise kids have been raised enormously since when you were children and now which makes that sort of thing less easy to do now.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:53 PM on June 22 [5 favorites]


Yes, but after three it doesn't get any harder, because the older ones start to pitch in and the younger ones get a certain portion of their love and affection needs met by their older sibs.

This is a really shitty deal for the older kids, who didn't ask to be unpaid child laborers.
posted by winna at 2:08 AM on June 23 [7 favorites]


"This is a really shitty deal for the older kids, who didn't ask to be unpaid child laborers."

Buh? There is a difference between love and affection amongst siblings and kids in general and unpaid child labor. A vast difference. There is shared fun, love and affection. I was the oldest of four and there were twenty six kids in my neighborhood and of couse the older kids looked after the younger kids. They were older and they know better and were proud for that. They were growing up.

We ran a day care and I can state with absolute certainty that the more kids there are the happier they are and that the older kids mature when younger kids are present.

Child laborers? No one was mining coal or working in a sweatshop. We were playing in the sprinkler in the summer or playing hide-and-seek or tag or freeze-tag or hopscotch [which I never got] or going to the local wading pool or playing kickball or riding bicycles or playing checkers or dress-up or dolls.

What foul hell is this unpaid child labor you were subjected to? I had a fucking blast.
posted by vapidave at 3:05 AM on June 23 [12 favorites]


This is a really shitty deal for the older kids, who didn't ask to be unpaid child laborers.

There's payment at my house (of various sorts). But one of the sweetest things I've ever seen is how this kind of thing naturally develops in the context of loving and healthy relationships.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:33 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


unpaid child laborers.

I suppose you could categorize cutting the grass this way, but it'll go on his college application as a "landscape architectural internship".
posted by BinGregory at 3:52 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


Primates are social animals; helping with your siblings is what we are prone to do.

My basketball team had it's end of season family bash at the weekend, and the guys range from 20 to 55 with a variety of family members tagging along. Loads of food, booze and a bouncy castle. Great times. My son is 2 and there was a 9 year old boy that took him under his wing and was making sure he was having a good time. All ths was totally his own initiative. he must have spent close to two hours entertaining my kid. there were other boys and girls of all ages, so it wasn't like it was his only option. Just a really nice, helpful boy. As I understand it, he is one of eight siblings. I'd hate to think that what he did was child labour.
posted by trif at 4:45 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I was the oldest if five, and there's definitely a fine line. Helping with dinner and family chores? Teaching responsibility. Doing your parents' taxes and expecting that kids completely forgo extracurriculars or a social life to babysit so the parents can work? Child labor.

It's fine and good to teach your kids that everyone has a role to play and a job to do in a community. However, kids should not be made to feel as if their family's happiness/survival depends on their efforts. It's too much responsibility and power for a kid to have.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:02 AM on June 23 [10 favorites]


Yeah, there is a difference between, "Can you help your brother with his homework while I'm making dinner?" and something like the Duggars.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:05 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


Yesterday, I woke up at 6:30.

That is a significant phrase in contrast with other days.

For example, a week ago I was woken up at 5:30. See the difference yet? 'Yesterday, under my own volition, I woke up at 6:30', compared to 'a week ago, I was woken up at 5:30.'

One sentence needs more background. A week ago, I was woken up at 5:30 by the doorbell. I struggled out of bed, staggered downstairs and found that my 11 year-old daughter who has cognitive delays had gotten up significantly earlier and, not finding anything to do to sufficiently amuse herself, put on her fuzzy black-spotted bathrobe and fuzzy pink slippers and went to explore the construction site across the street. Consequently, for the following 6 nights, I woke up at every creak and got up at least a few times to have a look around and make sure everyone was properly in bed. One time, my vigilance had merit.

Yesterday, I woke up at 6:30. It was a triumph.

Many years before having kids, I did some experimentation to figure out what the minimum amount of sleep that I needed in order to function effectively at my job. In retrospect, that was an overestimation.
posted by plinth at 6:40 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Having a baby will simplify your life.

Today's 5:30am wakeup was a poosplosion wakeup. At least it meant that today was definitely a showering day.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:58 AM on June 23 [3 favorites]


Every time I try to do something awesome with my kid there are childless people complaining that he's there and that children exist.

I try really hard not to be that childless person but yesterday a completely unsupervised child threw a FORK at my FACE while we were at a COCKTAIL BAR (at 10 pm!) and I'm sorry, it did tip me over the edge.

What foul hell is this unpaid child labor you were subjected to? I had a fucking blast.

In my case it was never being allowed to participate in a single after-school sport, play, or activity, because I had to babysit my younger siblings every single day of every single week, once I turned 10, until I moved out for college. I had no money or vehicle to take them anywhere, and where is an 11 year old going to take a herd of small children anyway?? So they hated me because I was so boring and strict, and I hated them because my friends all got to do fun things like soccer or piano, but not me.

The siblings are great and all, but the level of resentment that cropped up among us during those years didn't fade until we were firmly into independent adulthood.

I figure since I already spent 8 years caring for small children I should get off the hook for actual parenting, but people seem to think not.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:45 AM on June 23 [15 favorites]


"Why isn't this coffee shop open yet? My kids have been awake for two hours!"

Having kids gives you insight into a whole new part of the world- the morning part. I always wondered, why does Target bother opening at 8 am? Why do churches bother with 8:30 or 9:00 am services? Now I'm the one who's been up for 2.5 hours, killing time before church.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:15 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I just got back from spending a week solo with my 7 year old in the mountains.
He learned to have a shit in the woods and loved it.
Yeah, I had to keep him company and the the second or third shit a day might have gotten a bit tedious if he didn't just absolutely love pooping in the woods, so . . . parenting!

(Oh yeah, since Mom wasn't there, I also taught him how to throw tomahawks and whittle. And we drank.)

Moran is talking about babies. They get older and turn into people, luckily.
posted by Seamus at 9:29 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


Hard Mode can be training them to behave in restaurants and long airline flights. It takes effort but it's not brain surgery.

Not that it hasn't been contemplated.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:51 AM on June 23 [1 favorite]


> The thing that I rarely see is how amazingly satisfying having a kid is.

That's odd. Because as a woman between 20 and 40, who was not planning on reproducing, I was told that kind of thing all. The. Freaking. Time.
I'm so glad to be past childbearing age, people are finally not expecting me to change my mind and get pregnant anymore. Of course, these days, every now and then I get the 'don't you regret it? No? Oh but you will' thing.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:00 PM on June 23 [9 favorites]


What foul hell is this unpaid child labor you were subjected to? I had a fucking blast.

I think there may also be a gender skew in some cases. My mum was the second oldest of seven and to this day she resents like hell having had to 'parent' her siblings due to my Grandma being either pregnant, recovering or breastfeeding, whilst her older brother was only obliged to play with them. This is why I am an only child.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:09 PM on June 23 [3 favorites]


I love it when any mention of the benefits of being childless--even in a neutral, or "to each his/her own" way--get the firehose of condemnation turned towards you by overly defensive parents who react as if it's always some sort of child-hating, misanthropic smugness or judgement.

I mean, the "childless" over the age 30 (specifically, women) constantly deal with pity and condescension (or at best, unsolicited encouragement) from those who have children--even absolute strangers asking if you have kids, as small talk--regardless of the reason (choice, finances, genetics, etc.). The predominant cultural template is still HAVING KIDS = GOOD, NOT HAVING KIDS = SELFISH OR SAD. Depending on the culture, it can get even more extreme than that--again, especially for women.

In the face of that, it's really not OK to state the obvious, that there can be some advantages (and meaning, and enjoyment) in the life of the childless as well, and they may find pleasure in that? I'm sometimes reminded of the folks who have to be told to calm down, White History Month is the other 11 months of the year.

(Disclaimer: I don't hate kids, or your kids. In fact, I've probably smiled or made funny faces back at them out in public, I actually think your fourth grader has interesting things to say, and I've been called the Best Babysitter Ever more than once.)
posted by blue suede stockings at 1:05 PM on June 23 [5 favorites]


Today's 5:30am wakeup was a poosplosion wakeup. At least it meant that today was definitely a showering day.

Snickerdoodle: A mutual shower is one of the best ways to deal with the poosplosions, then you hit the cold water together and make a lot of noises together when it hits you. My sons girlfriends still won't take showers with them.
posted by primdehuit at 1:13 PM on June 23


I mean, the "childless" over the age 30 (specifically, women) constantly deal with pity and condescension...

I'm starting to believe that all women constantly deal with judgement over their life choices from unhappy people, regardless of what they do. Get married young? Focus on your career? Stay at home with your kid? Work? No matter what you do it's judging judging judging. People doing this are generally projecting their fears onto you, and I've learned to just smile and ignore.

Raising kids is the most important thing I'm doing, but that's a reflection of my life and choices. I'm sorry that people judge you for yours.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:29 PM on June 23 [6 favorites]


In the face of that, it's really not OK to state the obvious, that there can be some advantages (and meaning, and enjoyment) in the life of the childless as well, and they may find pleasure in that?

Given that pretty much every parent already knows the life of the childless, and is painfully, exhaustedly, aware of the trade-off they've made?

"Stating the obvious" isn't going to be telling them anything they don't already know; it's going to have to be well phrased to not be as just as smugly irritating as the former smoker preaching to all those still smoking about how much money they save and all the fun activities they can partake in.

I'm sometimes reminded of the folks who have to be told to calm down, White History Month is the other 11 months of the year.

Yeah, this doesn't work so much either. Not while breastfeeding mothers are still being thrown out of cafes and ostracised in public. Parents aren't quite an oppressed minority, but they're not really the privileged majority either.

disclaimer: am parent, also went out to buy cake and ice cream at 11pm last night. Then watched Star Trek. Really!
posted by bonaldi at 3:01 PM on June 23


I had a good laugh at the video. But let's not frame all potential life outside of having kids as "hipster nightlife thrills" or whatever. And my friends with kids don't live miserable nunnery lives either. As someone who doesn't have kids (but might someday!) I spend a great deal of my life: working hard at surviving in my career; working hard at art, which is just as difficult; trying to carve some meaning and joy out of the things around me, and trying to add some of my own meaning and joy to the world as well. There's never remotely enough time to satisfyingly focus both on my career and doing everything I want with music and writing - even without children. Life is entirely about compromise, and I don't know a single person for whom that isn't true. We're all out here struggling. Some of us have big goals and ambitions we want to accomplish, when all the "Japanese pizza on stilts" stuff is done.

Some of the people I know who have kids have found that their time is imbued with a new sense of urgency. They have to spend what free time they have very wisely, and in some cases end up accomplishing more with art than before they were parents. It's interesting.
posted by naju at 3:16 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted kids, but sometimes I see stuff like this and it scares me a bit. Then I remember I never go out anyway. Then I got a dog and now I'm definitely home early, up early, and generally not much of a participant in nightlife thrills.

Besides, some of you MeFite parents make it sound pretty ok.
posted by chatongriffes at 4:00 PM on June 23


Am MeFite parent. Used to have no kids. A second is on the way. I would not go back.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:50 PM on June 23


Happiness is when your kids want to sleep later than you do. (mother of a 27and 18 year old)
posted by JujuB at 9:17 PM on June 23


> Parents aren't quite an oppressed minority, but they're not really the privileged majority either.

Having children is seen as the default. So much so that no one ever gets asked why they have or want kids, but it's perfectly normal to ask someone why they don't have or want any.

This is funny to me, because in my mind, one needs a reason to do something, not to keep things as they are.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:54 PM on June 23 [4 favorites]


Having children is seen as the default. So much so that no one ever gets asked why they have or want kids, but it's perfectly normal to ask someone why they don't have or want any.

This is funny to me, because in my mind, one needs a reason to do something, not to keep things as they are.


I wouldn't dream of asking anyone why they were or were not having, or wanting, kids. My goodness.

OTOH, what you point to isn't an inconsistency at all. People are curious about behavior they regard, rightly or wrongly, as unusual, and so they ask questions then -- it's all the reason they need for that decision. They can still maintain, as you do, a bias toward inaction in this and all their personal decisions.

Of course, some people who have children do so without having any "reason" for doing so -- it can be accidental, or biological. The more transcendent problem is that there are reasons to have kids, and reasons not to have kids, and no one who makes a reasoned decision has any great way of resolving that balance beforehand.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 2:58 PM on June 24


All posts are © their original authors.

So did the NZ Herald contact the authors of comments in this thread they reused in their paper and website or did they just republish copyright material without permission? The part where they didn't bother to include usernames or a link back to the actual thread where it came from makes me think the latter, but years of reading the NZ media may be making me too cynical.
posted by shelleycat at 11:24 PM on June 24 [1 favorite]


> OTOH, what you point to isn't an inconsistency at all.

I know. After all, having children is the default (isn't that what I said?). But it still strikes me as funny.
Why DON'T we ask people why they want children? It's a life-changing decision after all, one that deserves plenty of thought. People should have reasons.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:11 AM on June 25


Wait, how is it possible to have a kid who is both into Minecraft and not perfectly behaved? I'm sure that a century from now people will look at my "finish your writing quickly or we won't have time for a half hour of Minecraft" parenting style as a more modern equivalent of "if you don't churn all that butter there will be no opium for you!", but for some reason in 2014 I can still expose my kid to one form of addiction without being a social pariah, and I'm totally taking advantage of it.

I hope i'm not going too far afield here, but i'm really fascinated to see what it's like when this generation of kids hits their mid 20s and beyond. Every single time i hear discussion of current elementary(or even pre) to middle school aged kids, minecraft comes up. The age reach and popularity goes beyond even what something like pokemon experienced in the 90s. It's freaking huge.

In my early teens, i smarted off about how myspace was going to create a large portion of my generation who had a good handle on how to use photoshop since people were so obsessed with editing their photos. What was formerly a mystic, and somewhat inaccessible "pro" level tool was being peer-taught en masse between tweens, teens, and college kids. The people who hit the very beginning to early middle of that curve being in college when it was popular got out of school and made... instagram. And hipstamatic, and VSCOcam, and all those other apps. It was a really obvious timeline you can draw on the whiteboard.

So all these kids are obsessed with what it essentially a combination of super legos, CAD, and more since all the elements react with eachother and it's full interactive. It's like the ultimate building toy, something that in the 90s would have been in a corny holodeck type scene on some scifi tv show or movie.

These kids are going to make ikea into a bunch of 3d screens with a scan of your house, something like kinect, and then you'll just build the interior and get a price quote for the various building blocks you've used. Or you know, something way more imaginative than that.

The point is there's going to be a large cultural knowledge of that sort of 3d building towards the youngest tail of millennials/generation Y/whatever. It's going to go somewhere interesting.
posted by emptythought at 1:46 AM on June 25 [1 favorite]


shelleycat: "So did the NZ Herald contact the authors of comments in this thread they reused in their paper and website or did they just republish copyright material without permission?"

No permission, and they just got a very irate letter from me about the republishing issue and about printing stories about minor children without parental notification or permission. Their response had better be prompt and resolve this issue to my satisfaction. Because I will escalate like WHOA.

(My law school roommate is an attorney in New Zealand and on maternity leave and bored and OH I WILL ESCALATE.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:51 AM on June 25 [2 favorites]


FFS. I had a kid when I was eighteen, raised her on my own, I'm close to fifty, there will never be any "monied years" for me, my daughter says she wants no kids, and I think that's just fine. It would have been nicer had I done this in a country that valued my unpaid work, where I might have gotten a tiny bit of support, where my daughter didn't need to move back in with me after getting her golden ticket of a college degree. But whatever. I really like Dylan Moran.

Have kids or don't have kids. It's not like it matters to me, or really anyone.
posted by salix at 1:02 AM on June 26


What foul hell is this unpaid child labor you were subjected to? I had a fucking blast.
posted by vapidave at 3:05 AM on June 23


Yeah, as another poster mentioned, there's definitely a gender component to the question of child labor(often). My mom was the second oldest daughter in a family with ten kids, and I believe she and my oldest aunt did the bulk of the laundry, diapering, cooking, and caring for the younger siblings. This was in the fifties and sixties, granted, and an extreme case, but still.

I think some amount of household chores for all kids regardless of gender is important and appropriate, but for some girls the burdens placed on them are unfair and detrimental to them.
posted by JenMarie at 10:55 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]


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