Sunday, January 9, 2011

A great read (A Case for Kids)

Island Parent Magazine

Maclean’s Magazine published an article some time ago entitled “The Case Against Kids.” As anyone with or without kids is well aware, this is not a difficult case to make. The article opens with a warning that “they can hurt your career, your marriage, your social life and your bank book!” Of course, most everyone reads this and says WELL, DUH. So why bother, as the article asks?

First, let me back up a bit, and tell you about why we bothered to give it a try. See, unlike the people interviewed by Maclean’s, my husband and I never really thought that hard about parenting before we did it. We’d heard about how it sabotaged your sex life and caused you unending stress and grief and naturally, we thought NOT US! NUH UH! We just assumed that it would be fun to have a kid, and all those naysayers were a bunch of Debbie Downers. I mean, we’re fun! We would just carry on like we always had, but bring the kid along. Kind of like a dog, butone who doesn’t shed. Again, fun!

So we went ahead and had a kid and you know, it was a long while before we used the word FUN in conjunction with parenthood again. We used lots of other descriptive words, but I’m not here to terrify the expectant. You see, it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t think about it too hard, because we might not have done it. The naysayers are right: parenthood does wreak havoc on your personal, professional, and financial life.

But here’s the catch. Perhaps I’m just speaking for myself here, but when it’s your own kid, you don’t really care. For the most part, of course. I admit that when I first became a parent, I cared. I cared a lot. I went through a period of mourning for my old life. Sure, I loved my kid, but man, did I remember the good times wistfully. A hot sunny day at the beach, without worrying about anyone else getting burnt or eating sand. Leaving the house without a diaper bag twice as big as what got you through six months in Thailand. Sleeping in on a Sunday.

But then, slowly but surely, I just didn’t care any more (well, OK, except for the sleeping in on Sunday part). Once I got over the shock of becoming a mother, things started looking up. I took more pleasure from watching my baby explore the sensation of grass in his toes than I would from a night on the town, any time. And right now, I may not have bought one new pair of shoes for myself since my son was born, but we are squirreling away some cash to buy him a trike for his second birthday. And I’m not saying that to be a martyr. I would rather he have the trike any day. Honest.

So yeah, parenthood is a gradual but definite slippery slope into the kind of existence Macleans warns you about. Humming the Sesame Street theme and calling your partner “Daddy” are only the beginning. You try to fight it but suddenly you’re writing things like “SOMEONE PEE-PEED IN THE POTTY!” for your Facebook status, inciting Olympiceye-rolling from your childless friends. As the months go by, your bedtime slowly creeps into the single digits, until one day you receive a dinner party invitation for eight o’clock on a Friday, and you and your partner look at each other in alarm. “Are they European or something?” you ask in disbelief.

So there you have it: one day the childless you becomes that person. That person, covered in spit-up, with bags under their eyes, discussing strollers instead of politics, who embodies the antithesis of the childfree movement. Don’t become that person! they tell you. You don’t want that!

Well, let me sell you a different perspective. This morning I was spying on my son. He was in his room playing quietly with my pajamas. He buried his face in them and sighed, with all the satisfaction of a sommelier sampling a ’97 Amarone, “Mmmmmmama.”

They say no kids, no grief, but no kids also means none of that. I’ll take my chances.

The Case for Kids
Carly Sutherland
January Article for Island Parent Magazine

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