Kids - can't live with 'em and don't want to without 'em
I forget how lucky I am to have my kids. When I am angry at them, frustrated with the seemingly endless driving, and feeling sorry for myself for the lack of any viable career, I need to remember that. I can't give in to resentment! When I hurl verbal abuse at the kids, I have to take a ten second break! It's not their faults that I can't have it all (career and kids) at the same time. Some moms do.
I was reminded of the lengths people will go to today when I saw this video on Madeleine Brand's website, "Parenting on the Edge". If you are an NPR junkie like me you will recognize Madeleine as the former host of the recently canceled show :-( "Day to Day". If not, you can explore her site, blog, video and podcast, and get to know what she is doing now. (You might want to check out the video before reading the rest of my blog...)
How many friends of mine have admitted that they are "trying to get pregnant", or going/have been through the painful, long, and sometimes unsuccessful process of adopting a child? Too many. I feel guilty that I was just fertile enough.
So it is important for me to remember that having my beautiful children is a privilege.
Getting them was pretty easy. Pregnancy wasn't bad. Birth was painful but not the near-death nightmare some friends have experienced. My babies were yummy but never slept well enough, darling as little kids... and somehow they have grown into these two independent-minded beings. But kids are a lot of work! I don't go out much with my husband or my friends. Every decision I make, big or small, takes them into consideration. They have become the focus of my entire world.
Very funny: as I am editing the blog tonight, my friend just sent this from the motherlode. Why are these two guys so desperate to have kids that they are spending a fortune to go to India?
Let's juxtapose these two sites. One is a video of people desperate to have a baby. The other is a column looking into research claiming that people who don't have children are happier than those who do. All these years I've felt sorry for people who never have kids... guess who is having the last laugh? Answer: My friends who have the great jobs, or all those famous women who have done great things sans strollers!
So, motherlode's questions: Why did you decide to have children? Are you happier than before they were born? And was “happiness” even one of the reasons on your decision tree?
Why did I decide to have kids: because I couldn't imagine life without them.
Am I happier than before they were born: yes. I am. Possibly because I am more confident now. I don't know if that is because I am a mom or just because of my age.
Was happiness part of the reasons? Probably, but I think I was afraid I wouldn't have them. The truth is that two of my Mom's closest friends (they are both well over 80 now) didn't have kids. They both had typical careers - one was a teacher, the other, a nurse. My Mom felt bad for them, but I think one of them feels regret, the other one doesn't. My Mom had a heavy influence in my thinking - which is ironic because I don't think she thought kids were the be all and end all of a happy life.
Yes, I have a college degree (actually two). Yes, I have traveled. Yes, I have had lots of cool experiences, had at least one somewhat cool job and I've met many interesting people. I've even had my 15 minutes of fame twice. I've been in love and married a wonderful man. I was fortunate to have the parents I do. But if I died tomorrow I would be especially grateful that I had kids.
And they're great!
Good luck Kevin and Richard. Kids don't guarantee happiness. But I am happy I have mine.