Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I'm glad we don't have kids.

Except when I'm not.

I'm not when I read the escapades of friends' kids on Facebook and think to myself my life could do with some of that entertainment.  There are two kids in particular, an old schoolmate's five and seven year olds, whose endless antics bring a smile to my face. These two children are precocious beyond words Their minds range far and wide, their tongues labouring mightily to keep up, and their Mom is diligent about recording the craziness that is her house. Then there's my stepsister's daughter...from birth to teen the quintessential "good kid". Yeah, I'd have liked one or two of those.

There's no doubt kids enrich your life the same way, for instance, our dogs do, only about a hundredfold. Unless they turn out bad. No doubt some of them do, despite parents' best efforts. That scares me: the thought that no matter what I do, my kid could grow up to be a thief or a killer is very frightening.

Never mind that: children of a certain age scare me. I'm afraid to even look at babies wrong, let alone pick them up, because as adorable as they are, wriggle wriggle splat.  I try to solve problems with words, and I'm lost just trying to imagine how to cope with a toddler to whom those words are nothing more than noise.

I'm well past caring about the money that children cost--it's an investment that obviously repays several times over. But I have to admit the life upheaval is disturbing to even contemplate. How do you young parents survive on no sleep at all? I get less than eight hours three nights running and my body just shuts down. Where do you find spouse time? How do you cope with every task involving young children taking three times longer than it would without them?

And the unpredictability. Some of you parents seem to relish it and no doubt the pleasant surprises are numerous and memorable. The unpleasant ones, though...nobody talks about the flushed rolls of TP that flooded the house, or the broken arm, or that party your teenager threw that resulted in several thousand dollars worth of damage and some priceless heirlooms destroyed.

Hell, if I clean up dog shit, I vomit. Baby shit, I'm told, is worse. (We have a deal in this house: on the rare occasions our dogs break housetraining or the B.B-cat barfs up a kitten...I clean the puke, Eva cleans the shit. This is because if Eva cleans puke, she'll puke herself, and that's just cruel; if I clean shit, I gotta clean puke, too. Not fair.)

To be honest, these are all concerns I raised prior to going through the failed adoption process. Ten years on, some things haven't changed. I still like my life relatively predictable. Some would say boring, and that's okay. I still get my pleasant surprises, only I get them from my wife and my friends and I like it that way. Any insomnia I suffer is self-imposed, not kid-imposed.

All this is so...selfish of me. I've tried to work past it, but it doesn't want to go away.

 I love a remove. I think the social worker that rejected us grasped that and couldn't articulate it. That rejection still stings, because I think I would have made a good dad and I know Eva would have made a great mom. But in order for me to be that great dad, I would have had to reinvent myself almost from the ground up...something I wasn't quite ready to do at the time, even if I convinced myself otherwise.

I still feel selfish about all this. Guilty. In my low moments, it's the biggest thing that makes me think I've failed at life. (I don't feel that way at all...except when I do.)

We're childless by choice at this point and (mostly) glad to be. But there are times when I wish things had turned out differently...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're not selfish. Or rather no more selfish than anyone else. My wife and I were dedicated childless by choice. Pretty ardent about it too. Then her career was going nowhere and we (after talking about it) decided that we wanted kids.

(As I type this, my eldest is spraying water all over the kitchen while helping my wife with the dishes.....)

Similarity about both? It was our decision and both outcomes (no kids/having kids) were what we wanted. I.e. Selfish decisions. We made those decisions for us. No one else.

(OK.. 30 minute break while we put the kids to bed)

How you want to run your life is always a selfish decision... And there is nothing wrong with that.

As to raising kids, it's like riding a bike. Scarey as hell at first and then it's as natural as can be.