Greengranted left this comment on my contacts page:
Regarding your post “Don’t get married… Ever”, I’m 20 and I feel that I dicarded all arguments pro marriage (or long time cohabitation, for that matter), except one: having kids. I want to have a kid. I mean, this guy will really dominate the world, if there’s something left of it.
How do you feel about this? The enormous pleasure of not being tied up to a 40 year old woman when you approach 50, does it weigh up to not raising a kid?
Lots of thoughts pop into my head. Ultimately, the decision is yours. What I get or do not get out of having children and a family may or may not be what you experience.
That being said. Having children is about sacrifice. Of a whole lot of things. Things that you cannot be aware of without actually having the child in the first place.
Money is probably the biggest and most obvious sacrifice. Prior to my first one coming along I’d saved up $5K for a personal construction project. That went out the door real fast to pay for medical bills when the little tyke needed a ride in a special infant ambulance and a stay in the ICU. Luckily insurance paid the other $40K in bills.
Having children is expensive, and the mother of your children may be like my wife. There is always something that the kids need. Maybe it’s a swing set, or new bunk beds, or decorations for their room. How about those new super hero sheets and comforters? Don’t forget the clothing, those little buggers grow out of stuff fast. Heck half of their baby clothes they never even wore, either because it was already too small before we got them home from the hospital, or it was ‘out of season.’
The thing about having a child is you quickly realize just how vulnerable those little bodies and minds are to the slings and arrows of life. And through them, you are vulnerable too. Will you be a helicopter parent, or will you allow your child to bloody a lip once in a while? What about your wife? Are your parenting styles the same or similar? Are you willing to adjust your style to fit your wife’s? Will she be staying at home? My wife put her career on hold to stay at home. She sets the tone for raising our kids, I back her up. I am still more permissive than she is, but I’m also not home with them all day long.
On the other hand, they can be absolutely the funniest part of your day and the most frustrating. They’ll pick up on stuff and make connections and surprise you all the time. Dinosaurs, Volcanos, Art, Music. These things and more you will be learning anew. For someone like me that enjoys learning something new just for the heck of it, it’s pretty good.
The down sides are there too. Stepping away from the sacrifices for your kids, I’ll just talk about my own and my wife’s experiences. From about six in the morning until eight at night, we’re running at full speed. One or more of the kids come up to our room just about every morning between midnight and six. Most nights one of them is in bed with us before our day starts. Then it’s time to make breakfast for all of them. Meals can be like wrangling cats. They want to talk and play and fight and somewhere in there they might eat a meal.
After breakfast we’re rushing to get them cleaned up, dressed, and during the week ready for school or pre-school. For the one or two of our kids that don’t have school on that particular day, my wife is typically working on art projects, or educational games and activities with them until lunch time. Then lunch is often a repeat of breakfast, wrangling cats again. After lunch it’s cleanup and usually some unstructured play time (By two to two and a half years old the kids had all given up their naps).
Generally by 3:30-4:00 my wife will let them watch a show or video. Now cartoons and shows aren’t like when we were kids. Looney Toons and Tom and Jerry aren’t to be found. Kids shows now days all have an educational component (for the most part. My kids know what sponge bob is but they don’t get to watch it). 4:00 to 5:00 is also the bewitching hour. The kids tend to be the most needy in this hour, right when my wife’s trying to make dinner.
The dinner hour can be like a battle. The kids are very vocal about NOT liking whatever my wife’s made for dinner. At least one of them will complain about it. A meal that my wife and I used to spend 20 minutes eating and talking is now a protracted series of flanking maneuvers lasting an hour where maybe we’ll both get to sit down together for a brief five or ten minutes. We know it won’t always be this way. The eldest at five does pretty well, the second at four is learning, and the two year old is all over the place.
After dinner can be anything from play time to bath time. Bed time starts around seven in the evening and with getting ready, bathroom visits, teeth brushing, and story time, we generally have them all in bed by 7:45 and asleep by 8-8:30. But our day is not over at this point. While the kids have cleaned up their various messes from the day, we still have to put the house back together, make lunches for school, and get ready to start it all again the next day. By 9-9:30, we can finally relax a little. Maybe watch a little TV, catch up on reading a book (assuming I don’t fall asleep in 15 minutes), email some friends, catch up on FB (wife anyway), or if we’re really exhausted, just go to bed.
I find myself becoming more and more of a night owl and skimping on sleep. I’ll stay up to midnight most nights of the week and at least once or twice a week I’ll stay up to 2 am or so. I’m not saying that everyone’s experience is the same, and surely having 3 children in 3 years is probably not the wisest thing I’ve ever done. At some point, I tell myself, the wife and I will have more time to do more than just sprint all day long.
I have to believe that. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’ll want to continue.