Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Baby, the Bathwater, or Both?


All of a sudden, we’ve been talking about kids a lot.  Maybe that happens after you hit the one year mark and can high five your husband for  successfully getting through the “paper” year (and also for the satisfaction of knowing how many of your friends must have lost some money on their bets).

Or maybe its because its just the next big life thing to do (before retire and die.)

There are so many buzz words associated with having kids.  Like: “ready” and “expensive” and “sleep (or lack thereof)” and “career.”  Mostly the word “ready” though. 

Almost every parent I talk to has said “you’re never really ready.”  Well, ok.  Do they mean that in the “nothing on earth can prepare you for kids and how much they will change your life” kind of way?  Or the “unless you have zero debt and $100,000 in the bank you aren’t ready” kind of way?

I mean, really.  What does it MEAN when they say that?

Because if being ready means that one day I will wake up and say, “hey, you know what? I don’t so much care for (or need) sleep anymore. Let’s have a baby!”  I’m pretty sure that I will, in fact, never be ready.

And if being ready means having no debt and $100,000 in savings and a college savings account already set up, then no, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be ready.

And I’m a planner.  The annoying kind.  The person who has everything mapped out days/weeks/months/years/decades in advance.  I plan everything from my meals to my vacations. But the thought of trying to plan for a baby? Even I am humbled (nearly rendered immobile) by such a daunting task.

Its not that I don’t WANT to plan.  Its just that it seems futile to try.  Sure, I will put money into savings and try harder to get up early.  But the idea of looking at a calendar and saying “I think we should plan to have a baby around this time” kind of ruins it for me. FOR ME!? The psycho planner extraordinaire? Yes.

Because I am the kind of person who does not take it well when my plans fail, or change or get postponed.  And I just do not want to relate to pregnancy and having kids the way I relate to the rest of the things in my life.  I want to be surprised,  elated, and a little unprepared.  Not panicky unprepared. Just “YAY! Now this is happening and I thought maybe it might and that’s okay because I have several months in which to prepare a bit more” prepared.

I want it to be a completely authentic and new experience for me. 


Can I be Frank? (you can be George.)  I really don’t LIKE being a planner.  I don’t know exactly why I am so inflexible sometimes and it bugs the shit out of me.   I drive MYSELF nuts. I never let myself relax. It is like the most obnoxiously large character flaw. EVER.

I know that having kids will turn my world upside down, and that it will literally force me to go with the flow and be more spontaneous. And I am SERIOUSLY looking forward to it.  I cannot wait to watch my stomach grow and stand on a scale and (for possibly the first time ever) know that the numbers are going up for a REALLY AWESOME reason.  I am so excited at the thought of having actual unavoidable  reasons for changing plans at the last minute and flying by the seat of my pants.

Would I like to be a millionaire and not have to worry about how much money kids will cost? Sure.  But that is not a reality for most of America the world.  Millions of people make it work ( and genuinely want to make it work) every day (welfare recipients with 45 children excluded because they usually want to do anything BUT work).

Every time we talk about having kids, I think of the movie Idiocracy.   We are those people at the beginning, rationalizing away the desire to have kids.  (If you haven’t seen the movie, you should watch it just to find out how horrifying it is when the intelligent people of sensible means stop procreating and the welfare recipients take over.)  Its kind of a crappy movie but the point I’m trying to make is that I spend so much time planning things, that I rarely have the time to genuinely enjoy them.  And I don’t want having kids to be like that.  Call it selfish (although I don’t see how getting huge, quitting drinking for 10+ months and committing your life to the health and well-being of another human is selfish), but I just want to enjoy it.

So if I get knocked up and I don’t have $100,000 in the bank and I haven’t woken up before 6am since I was a rower in college, it will be okay.  I will make it work. I have a great husband, a good job, a plethora of supportive friends and family, and a lot of sisters with hand-me-down baby clothes, and a lot of friends who can’t wait to babysit (right, guys?)


I don’t want having kids to be another one of my well-planned ideas gone awry. 

So I’d rather keep the expectation bar low not plan much at all.


Jill said...

This is a wonderful post. Of course no one can ever be fully ready for a baby. You're inventing something that never before existed! There is no way to plan for that, and it's pretty rad, if tremendously daunting.

I am not sure if my husband and I will ever take the plunge, and part of the reservation comes from knowing that *everything* will change. Any plans I might have right now -- all those plans that *don't* involve a baby -- those will go out the window. I'm not a compulsive planner, and I almost feel like having a kid requires a ton of planning in your daily life once you have it. That kind of overwhelming idea makes me shy away from it all.

But whenever it does happen for you, I think you'll have the feeling you're looking for. The "Yay, this happened, and now I will prepare!" And what a good feeling that will be. :)

Andrew said...

I'm sure kids will sit you down and feed you a slice of humble pie. Mmmmm... Pie.

Just remember--tough love is the key. Remind your kids constantly what you gave up to bring them into the world. That way, they appreciate it.

At least there's still the possibility of a few years to prepare. Start saving!

emily said...

It sounds like you're ready to me! Very wise words.

Sarah P said...

When the moment is just right, and the mood strikes you, and you're putting some money in the bank, start trying.
Then, when you get surprisingly pregnant right away, and then it turns out you're having twins, and then your husband gets laid off, you'll realize there's no stopping the crazy train. Just go with it.