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It will be different when you have kids

December 15, 2008

or so they say. I’m not fully convinced this is true, or will ever be true.

B&D came to visit this past weekend, with their 18month old, V. V is just starting to talk, and can say words like “cat,” “dog,” “bird.” She understands pretty much everything, though.

This is going to be incredibly un-PC, but for some reason, when little kids can’t talk or don’t talk (and yes, i realize that I am talking about an 18month old), it makes me think they are stupid. Obviously, V is not stupid, and in fact, if I am to believe her parents, she is, in fact, a baby genius, but it has occurred to me that my low tolerance for “stupidity” has now filtered in and affected my view of innocent children.

Some other things that prove I will be a bad mother:

–I am constantly annoyed by kids touching things, moving them, and then eventually losing them. Again, I know this is a child’s nature, and its my fault for leaving stuff out that can be touched/moved/lost, but still…

–18 month olds cry. A lot. Luckily, my room is more or less insulated from any noise, except for that of the garbage truck that comes every Monday morning, so I didn’t hear a thing. But if I were a light sleeper, which I guess I’m not, Id be screwed.

–18 month olds also throw a lot of temper tantrums. This was most fascinating for me to watch, because if I should ever have kids, I am paranoid that I will be blessed with the most hot-headed, stubborn, temper-tantrum-y kids, that will take after an adult me. (I was a pouty, serious, kid, but not loud or temper tantrum-y–that’s more me, now). Anyway, I was curious to see how my friends would handle the temper tantrums, because I am always annoyed by parents on a plane who can’t seem to control their kids. I learned that kids at this age are just whiny regardless of what parents do. It is interesting tho to see what the child can get from the parents, and what she cannot. B&D are pretty good about not giving in to a crying baby. V would usually cry and cry and cry and then we would all laugh at her, and then she’d cry louder, and then she’d stop, and then it would be over. I’m not sure that comforting the kid would have made her stop crying or even been better for her, as she was usually crying about being disciplined–like, no, V, you cannot take things out of the garbage can.

–I don’t enjoy runny noses

–I don’t enjoy following kids around with a dust buster. I’m a messy person, so people may find this odd, but I always say theres a difference between pack-rat clutter (me) and leaving a trail of cheerios in every single room (kid).

–kids require that you pack way too much crap. This would make me crazy. First off, I hate packing. But packing for a kid, then going through the airport, and doing all that stuff that comes with traveling would drive me berserk.

–I wonder if you have a certain affinity towards/against certain kids in the same way that you have towards adults. Like what makes a person friends with another could make you like or dislike a child. What if you had 4 kids, and you only really like 2? I’m not talking love, but liked or connected with. If you can like or dislike adults, can’t the same be said about children? I know that they are innocent and all, but there are some kids I really do not like, just like there are some kids I really really love. I wonder, however, if this is directly related to his/her parents, than the child him/herself. I have pretty strong opinions about who I like/don’t like. What if I have kids, and don’t like them? P says that she tends to only like children that like her. What if my kids don’t like me? Will I automatically hate them? Is it really true that everything you learned up to this point will immediately change when the kid is your own?

At 18months, kids still have a strange, vacant stare, that I find hard to accept. Plus, they have started to learn to filter information, so you’ll be playing with them or talking to them, but really they are just interested in the shiny red ball sitting in the dusty corner in the kitchen.

Another thing I noticed, and have noticed, is what I mentioned before: having a kid is directly related to social interactions with other similarly aged people. In high school and college, you make friends easily. Then those friends drop off, and in your 20s, you are linked to people by alcohol. Then, when people stop drinking, and start staying in, you basically are distant friends with people you once-knew or once had conversations with many many years ago. Perhaps you have nothing in common with these people anymore, and quite possibly you rarely talk, but you hold on to the ever thin thread, hoping that one day the friendship will return to what it was. It won’t. People turn inward, myself included, and people no longer put a lot of effort into seeking new friends. I think its very rare to meet new people/lifelong friends at this stage in life.

And then comes baby, and all of a sudden, the world has opened up to a whole new group of people. You don’t have to be their friends in the way you once were–people with kids are understanding of other people with kids: they don’t have time for much else than sharing baby tips with one another, and having dinner together while watching children play.  Which brings me to my theory: people have children to gain access into this club, because without kids, you have to face one of two things: a lifetime with just you and another person (significant other), or a lifetime of being on the outside looking in–where you are interacting with people with children, but only at the convenience of the friends due to their priority of family, children, etc.

An example: at the local diner that we frequent every weekend, people with babies were naturally drawn to B&D, and vice versa. Where there would be no reason to talk before, now they had plenty of commonalities to share. Also, people love babies, and are constantly talking to you/them regardless of if they know you or not. Babies are the new social drug.

As for me, when B,D,& V left, I felt sad to see them go, but also relieved to have my life, my house, and my stuff, back. I think I am too selfish and too self-centered for children, and I’m not sure I will ever be ready to give my life up to raise a kid who will end up hating me 15 years down the line.

My friend, Giselle, one of the many friends who is expecting a child this year, told me that she still doesn’t feel ready to have a child/be a mom. She got pregnant unexpectedly, after being told she most likely would not be able to have kids. When she got pregnant, she said she was the most unexcited parent-to-be ever. I think her reaction was, “shit, now my life is over.” At 35, her clock was ticking, and given the higher risk of a multitude of things when you give birth past age 35, she felt pressured to have a kid. She was happy with her life the way it was, but contemplated children because people around her told her that she would regret it if she didn’t have kids. Giselle is 5 yrs older than me, and therefore a good litmus test for how I think I will be if I ever decide to have kids. I’m curious to know things really do change and/or if it will really be different, beyond the obvious addition of people to the family, when you have kids.

People always say how they never knew love until they have a kid. Or that they were always meant to be a mom, and didn’t realize until they had kids. But I tend to believe that a lot of this stuff that people say about children is a load of crap, stolen from television soundbites and over-romanticized movies that tell us how life *should* be: knights in shining armor, soul-mates, perfect lives, perfect love, fulfilling job, chasing your dreams, and losing weight by doing pilates. I have a tiny inkling that everything they say about motherhood being the greatest thing on the planet, is in actuality, a lot different.

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