Wednesday, March 13, 2013

It Changes Everything

There's still no verdict on whether my friend I mentioned in the latest post is going to love being a mom or not. She tells me that she's tired, a lot, and that it's more work than she anticipated, but that he's a good baby and she did fall in love at first sight.

I think that's good news.

But she also said it changes everything, which I've no doubt about. It's the thing I fear the most when I consider parenthood.Even the healthiest, happiest, easiest baby changes everything. But still, I look at my friends with the active, happy kids, and I look at other friends whose baby is developmentally delayed enough that we're all exchanging looks and biting our tongues, and I don't see a life I want.

I'm 35. This is pretty much it, and I've made my choice. It's been my choice from the beginning, but the older I get the more gravity it holds. 
For me, it's becoming clear that there's going to be some mourning involved. I sort of wish I wanted kids, that I wanted to sacrifice so much for that experience, for that kind of love. It's not enough for me. I was so excited to spend a whole day babysitting my goddaughter last week, and it melted my brain after 4 hours.

I love watching her play, explore, learn. She's an amazing kid, and funny as hell. We cuddled, we played. I love her to pieces, but oh my god I wanted to crawl out of my skin after 4 hours. But I couldn't. I had to stay vigilant, making sure she didn't get into anything or hurt herself, even though there was relatively little trouble she could get into.

It was an easy day with her and I found it exhausting, and boring as hell. All I did was sit on the sofa watching Hotel Transylvania for the hundredth time because that's what the baby likes best, and occasionally fill up her bottle with more milk, feed her food she didn't want to eat anyway, and clean up her messes. The good stuff outweighs the bad/dull/exhausting when you're a parent, I get that. It changes your priorities; I get that too.

But I like my priorities. I like that I'm up at 3:00 am working on a project for a client. I enjoy working 60 hours a week because I love my job. I enjoy going to school on top of this all to finish my MBA. I love that Mondays are work/study nights, Tuesdays we go to our trivia league, Wednesday we're going to see my husband's cousin in a Broadway production, Thursday we're gaming with other friends, and Friday we've got date night. My life is amazing.

I'm not eager to bring something in that will fundamentally change my relationship with my husband, or my life, or my priorities. A life where I'm not creating — writing, designing, imagining — would weigh so heavily on me.

Some parents I know manage it. I've watched other couples grow bitterly resentful of one another because they feel disrespected. While some still put a high value on grown-up time, others dissolve into their new role as Mothers and lose the rest of their identity. They're not bad people, or stupid people, but that's how parenthood changed everything for them.

So when I say I wish I wanted it, I mean that I know I'm missing out on some pretty amazing stuff. Everybody wishes they could have it all. I just know that I can't, and I'm at peace with that.


Anonymous said...

Great post! I feel the same way, wanting to want kids and just not wanting it. I'm also 35.

Meg said...

I've frequented a lot of CF message boards and blogs, but yours is the first that really captures how I feel. I sometimes wish that I wanted children, wish that I could shrug off the necessary sacrifices/trade-offs and inevitable changes... but I know deep down that I'm just not that person. Sometimes it makes me feel incredibly relieved (and grateful for the freedom to make this choice), sometimes it makes me deeply sad, for a multitude of reasons. It's so complex and difficult to explain.

Anonymous said...

It is so nice to hear you mention wanting to want kids! I often find myself explaining my husband and I hope we change our minds about being child free...however the clock is ticking fast at 32 and it hasn't happened yet!

cosarusa said...

I am so glad I have discovered your blog!
If I make a pie chart of my female friends, the larger part of it would be those who got babies when they didn't plan it. I was looking at them and thinking: OMG, I would never want this to happen to me! And I still think so. I have spent 2.5 years in India and I really liked exploring such a weird, annoying, amazing and beautiful country. I am 26 now, but I don’t want to stop, settle down and live a secure life just because “this is what other people do”. I came back to my country and realized I almost do not have any friends left. Upon my arrival I called my college friend. She told me: you need to think carefully and stop roaming around, because you’ll be 40 and alone one day. I understood that it was the last time I called her. I do not think that people who live this kind of generally accepted domestic life can advise me; especially, when they lustly comment on my overseas pics on facebook with some scent of regret. There are plenty of “friends” like this one who harass me about “the biological clock is ticking” all the time. The more they do this, the more I think I will never change my mind regarding parenthood. Apart from this, I have seen how Indian women are. Sometimes I had a feeling they simply push out kids out of tradition not because they really want to be mothers. Frankly, I disrespected such individuals.
I agree to what you have written about 4 hour limit. Whenever I come to one of my friends and look at her son, I think what a pleasure I can play with him for a while and once he starts crying his mom is there to caress him and I can go for my yoga class.

Anonymous said...

Omg this is me totally. I love my nieces/nephews/godkids to death, but jeebus, after about an hour with any of them (where I am the only adult supervisor/entertainment center/food provider/bathroom companion), I just feel like, GET. ME. OUT. OF. HERE. I love them but I love them more when I am not their primary caretaker. Much, much, much, much, MUCH more.

Anonymous said...

It's very refreshing to see this thought voiced, thank you. I was raised to expect marriage and children. I did the first but cannot bear the thought of the second. However I do understand how much it saddens my friends, family and in-laws, so sometimes my husband and I say "it would be nice if we wanted kids". We help out a lot with nieces/nephews/godkids and look forward to it because we feel we should, but like you we find it tedious and tiresome and know it's not for us. We too understand what will miss out on, but the straight answer is we don't want kids and as we approach 40 nothing is going to change that. I'm very glad to know I'm not alone with these fleeting feelings :o)

BrooklynChick said...

I totally understand what you mean. I'm turning 33 next week, and although I'm more sure than ever that I don't want kids, I do sometimes think about what I'm missing out on. Because I know that there is stuff I'm missing. But I also know I'm willing to make that tradeoff for the life I have now.

Anonymous said...

I wish I wanted it too.

But if I don't get 9 hours of sleep every night, I'm pretty much guaranteed to be in a bad mood by 11am. And to be honest, when I'm in a bad mood, I lose my temper more easily... and I'm afraid I'd end up verbally abusing my child... or hitting him.

I am very sleep sensitive and I was verbally abused and neglected as a kid and these alone are reason enough for me to realize I'm not meant for the Great Sacrifice.

But yes, part of me wishes I wanted to make those sacrifices. And part of me wishes I could get by with 6 hours of sleep. And I wish my personality was more patient and nurturing.

But that's just not me. So, I mourn for the me I wish I was. I wish I could be like Kelly Ripa... do the mom thing... barely sleep... work out a lot and be very fit... look fabulous... and remain perky and lively and cheerful.

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog and I read blogs about childfreedom but for me Your blog helps the most for me. You speak about things that is way deep in me, emotions, problems in cf community and the last sentesce, was just great. The problem is childfree people want everything and parents want evrything, but it wont work. I'm just happy that you write about taboos, whicj no one really speaks about. You're doing a great job! :) And sorry for my grammar. :)

Anonymous said...

And I know it is an old post but it helped me a lot! :)