There’s a reason why you say to your significant other “Let’s have a baby!” It’s because you’re wanting cute and cuddly babies. You don’t say “Let’s have preteens!”, “Let’s have teenagers!” You don’t think the babies you raise will grow up to be little shits or assholes. No, you’re going to be a better parent than the couple down the street. Your kids will listen. Your kids will behave.
It’s 8:00 PM, you’re driving through the drive thru for a McDinner after a soccer practice, you’re kids are in the backseat fighting over who gets in the shower first when they get home and you think of how blissful the baby years were. How fast the grew up and how the last few years have been a whirlwind of emotions for both you and them. Then you ask yourself “What was I thinking wanting to do this?” and “Would I do it again?”
You think of them as cute babies but then you think of doctor’s visits, feedings, sleepless nights. Why do we think that we’ll do parenting differently? Why do we insist on spending a near quarter of our lives raising offspring that delight us maybe 50% of the time and yet piss us off 60% of the time. Yes, I can I do math. I said 60% because although you’re happy with them you will find yourself being pissed AND happy with them 10% of the time. Like when they learn to feed themselves but they begin to feed the dog too. They’re talking but telling the lady in the checkout line behind you in the grocery store that mommy farts. They’re potty-trained but peeing all over the bathroom floor. They’re doing their homework but asking you for help with their geometry at 10:00 PM. They’re moving out, but leaving you. You get the idea.
They’re not babies for long. They grow into their “terrible two’s” which no one tells you really stretches 2-3 years. They’re gaining independence and their personalities are developing. They’re trying to figure the world out. It’s not an easy period.
Then they turn 5-13ish and they’re trying to figure themselves out. This includes a lot of personal activities like nose-picking to masturbation. They start realizing you’re not in control of them and they discover they actually think for themselves.
Then from 13 on they’re trying to figure the world out. And while I don’t have kids of teenage years and I may be wrong in my assumptions, I remember what I was like as a teen. I was a bitch to my mother, I adored my father and I had a love-hate relationship with myself.
I remember being 10 and wanting to play baseball with the boys but wanting to wear dresses out to dinner. I remember turning 15 and just wanting a boyfriend to adore me because I wasn’t adoring myself. My body was changing, my hormones were raging, my personalities merging. That last one is kind of a joke but it’s really not because the mood swings are real!
I’m just trying to convince myself it was all worth it. Having children with a man I tolerated and loved for a couple of years. Divorcing him after no longer tolerating and then dispising him. If he hadn’t died I’d be putting up with him now and for several more years. I won’t get into how awful it was when he was alive with his drinking, pill use, paranoia and anger issues. His inability to pay for a phone or beds for the boys but he was legally allowed to keep the boys 40% of the time. No, I’m just wondering if it was all worth it.
Yes, I’d have a lot of money and would have been traveling all over the world, but it’s rewarding. I’ll be honest, I can’t say everyday I’d do it again. My first pregnancy was full of worry and specialist appointments. My first born with a syndrome and is disabled. My second child is a hot head and a handful. They’re father dying and me raising them alone. It’s a struggle. It can be difficult. It can be great and wonderful too but it’s not easy. I think of the time Jackson was in the NICU and I watched a teenage couple peer into the isolette at their tiny baby. They had to drive over an hour to visit the baby so they didn’t visit him everyday. I wondered if they even loved each other. I wondered how long they had been together. I wonder how many young couples get themselves into this situation. I wonder if more people would abstain or use protection if they truly understood that not every baby is born healthy and “typically-developed”.
And I wonder again if I’d do it all over again. But I guess that’s best left unsaid. As most of us will do.