Friday, July 10, 2009

Kids, Love 'em or Leave 'em. LEAVE 'EM! Nono, Really... TRUST Me! DON'T GO THERE!!!!

It occurs to me that in all my 49 years, I have only met one woman who was genuinely happy to be a parent. Really, just one. Granted, she was also "born again" and perfectly willing to do the "lord and master" bit as well, so I'm not sure my lone example can even be considered to be in full control of her mental faculties less a good example of the opposing argument. That being said however, simply knowing her well and being intimately aware of her outlook on life makes me unable to honestly say "no" woman I ever met was happy to be a parent. The rest of 'em should have talked to me first.

I just don't understand the attraction. I suppose my first question is the most basic.

"Why?"

OK, mebbe my first question would actually be "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKIN'???" but I'm trying really hard to be diplomatic here.

When it comes right down to it, I gotta admit the reasoning behind the entire concept completely escapes me. My life and the ability to rule almost every aspect of it is indubitably the most treasured possession I own. I can't understand why giving up that ability would appeal to anyone. What is the attraction? There obviously is some kind of awfully powerful one of which I am blissfully ignorant, as plenty of women are practically desperate to have kids beforehand, it's only after the deed is done that they rethink the intelligence of the decision. And they always do. Other than the afore-mentioned questionably sane person, every woman I have known well enough to share such intimacies (and several I didn't) has regretted the decision, at least to some extent. Maybe it is nothing more than some deeply ingrained instinct to procreate. I don't know if I can buy into even that though, we've certainly evolved far enough along to be able to out-think most of our instincts. I for one have no desire to hoard nuts and berries to tide me over the winter months.

All that being said, can you imagine the pros and cons list if one were to make one before embarking on this tenuous journey? One based on the assumption that everything will go as well as can be expected, of course (and by that I mean everyone is physically and mentally healthy, and your kid doesn't grow up so maladjusted they end up putting out an all-points bulletin for your car and Phillip Jr. after they find your body parts strewn throughout your home).

Shall we? Oh yes, let's!

PRO
I get to enjoy the beauty and romance of pregnancy. I will absolutely glow!

CON
I will suffer extreme mood swings, gain 40lbs. (if I'm lucky), puke my guts up every morning for months, likely get hemorrhoids the size of Ohio, have unbearable back pain, stretch my skin so far it scars (what exactly do you think "stretch marks" are?), contemplate if murdering my husband is a viable option as my hormone levels fluctuate wildly, and have to buy an entirely new wardrobe I will wear for five months, tops. I will not make love to my sweetie/devil-incarnate, or even find a comfortable position in which to sleep for that matter, for several months. Then I will experience pain for hours on end far beyond any I have ever previously known, will be sliced open either through an episiotomy or caesarean, and spend several days in a hospital (if my health insurance, assuming I have health insurance, allows for such a luxury).

PRO
I have an adorable little bundle of joy to nurture and love.

CON
I will give up what would have been my study (guest room, gym, home theater, shoe closet for the Louboutin collection I will now never own, etc.) so it can become a nursery. I will spend many, many months getting little to no sleep, regardless if I have to get up at 6am when I return to work. If I do choose to work outside the home, I will abandon my career for several weeks at the very least, and will spend an even longer time playing catch-up when I return. Every minute spent at home will revolve entirely around my child's sleeping, eating and eliminating habits. I will either suffer intense breast pain or will live with the fact that I am sacrificing the ultimate in nutrition and antibodies I could give my child when I choose to feed it formula, which hopefully does not include any deadly ingredients manufactured in China. I will spend thousands of dollars a year on disposable diapers, which will end up in a landfill and will just begin to decompose in the next several decades, maybe. I will begin the many years of buying clothing, and soon shoes, that my child will outgrow long before it outwears. It will be months, if not years, before I can leave the house again in the evening for an adult outing, providing I can bring myself to leave my child and actually find a babysitter at all, much less one I can trust. I will add a minimum of $50 to the cost of said night out to pay for the sitter I settle on, whom is likely to come nowhere close to my expectations, and I will spend a good deal of the time during my outing worrying that I may have hired Aileen Wournous' reincarnation to care for my child.

PRO
My child will grow quickly and I will watch the miracle of those first important milestones with utmost pride.

CON
I will spend at least a year dealing with The Demon Seed through the toddler period. My child's first words will be "mama," "dada" and "NO!" I will become selectively deaf to my own child's screaming, much to the extreme annoyance and utter disdain of every other person in the immediate vicinity. I will become the bane of anyone trying to enjoy a meal in every restaurant I enter. I will have to live with cabinet locks, outlet guards, gates throughout my home, and a muzzle on all four dogs even though they wouldn't hurt a fly. OK, so maybe they eviscerate flies, but they don't have a taste for human flesh... yet. There's no saying how they'll feel about it after little Jimmy eats all the food in their bowl and then tries to remove a fuzzy ear from its rightful owner. I will not be able to let my child out of my sight for even mere seconds for fear it will either cause itself, my home or a bichon frise irreparable harm. My main focus in life will be reduced to teaching my child to use a toilet as intended, while at the same time teaching it not to use it to flush Mommy's engagement ring, Daddy's iPhone, or the cat. I will spend long periods of time, three times a day, trying to get food into my child, and then just as routinely spend long periods of time cleaning up the food I didn't get into my child, as well as the food that comes out the other end of my child that didn't manage to successfully follow the uninsured diamond, cell phone and feline.

PRO
I will watch my child blossom as it grows and begins to learn about the world.

CON
I will go to work every day with a mind to escape the madness, but then spend the day convinced my child is suffering at the hands of a pedophile with a daycare license. I will have quality time with my child in the evenings after I have traveled ten miles out of my way to pick them up from said daycare, for which I spend one third of my salary, and go home to watch the news with the hope I do not see anyone from Budding Genius Babycare being led from the building in handcuffs. I will then spend two hours with my child before they go to bed, which is a half hour later than it should be due to the delay caused by the incessant whining and screaming it took to get them *into* the bathtub and again when I tried to get them *out* of the bathtub. I will read "The Velveteen Rabbit" for the 174th time. I know how it ends.

PRO
My child will begin school and flourish with its newfound knowledge.

CON
I will get up two hours before I have to leave for work to prepare my child for school, make a nutritious breakfast even though the thought of food in the morning nauseates me, and pack a lunch (or search frantically for enough cash to pay for lunch). I will then send my child to what has become America's "killing fields" and hope they have enough sense to duck and hide when the bullets start flying. If my child is sick, is home for one of the 186 annual school holidays, or has a "snow day" I will either have to take off work or frantically find someone trustworthy enough to care for my child, since I understand locking them in a closet with a coloring book, a supply of crayons and a few cookies is not an acceptable option in the eyes of the law (as much as it *should* be). I will spend my few free hours attending PTA meetings and parent/teacher conferences, baking cupcakes for a classroom full of other people's brats, and trying to remember how to help mine do the "new math" I learned decades ago, which is no longer new enough to be the way it is done *now.*

PRO
My child will become an intelligent, independent free thinker as it enters its teen years.

CON
My child will no longer tell me it loves me, but instead will go into great detail about why it hates me while stomping dramatically up stairs and slamming bedroom doors. My mere presence in front of little Lizzie's friends will embarrass her to no end, no matter whether I have chosen the occasion to intentionally torture her mercilessly for my own amusement or not. I will feel guilt when I wrestle with deciding if I should call the police when my child runs away from home, while secretly hoping they stay away for at least a day or two. I will struggle with the choice of being the "cool, realistic parent" and buy him/her a steady supply of contraceptives, or the "protective, over-my-dead-body parent" and elect to lock them in their room until they are 21. I will begin to wonder if giving up foie gras and tenderloin over the course of almost two decades in exchange for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Hamburger Helper was worth the gamble that my kids would actually go to college, much less move out of my house before the age of 30. I will cringe at the idea that Mary doesn't know her mother well enough to actually think I will let her leave the house wearing a belly shirt emblazoned with the Playboy emblem and a pair of low-rise yoga pants that proudly declare "Juicy" across her butt. I will continually reassure myself that my son really does have a future as a space shuttle pilot, simply because the only skill Johnny has ever mastered is his outstanding ability to fly a starfighter on his PS3.

I will eventually find myself muttering aloud to my few childless friends with a wistful sigh that I "wonder what would my life have been like if I didn't have kids." And then I will do my best to ingore the sympathy-with-just-a-hint-of-smug-satisfaction look in the eyes of those who were actually smart enough to make a pros and cons list before taking the plunge.

And as terribly difficult as it is, I really do try to keep it to just a *hint.*

2 comments:

rschmidt said...

Now we know why Lions eat their young. My...nature still has so much to teach us.

Susan Maxwell Schmidt said...

Right about now I'm just counting on natural selection. And my selection, or lack thereof. You're welcome world, happy to do my part! You have no idea what you have escaped. Oh, the horror.