Friday, September 13, 2013

the biggest mistake you will never regret

for some reason Blogger's version of pacific standard time is ahead of reality so it's kind of like i'm talking to you from the FUTURE....

so. one of my brother's friends got a tubal ligation when she was 20. she was that certain she didn't want to have kids, ever. she recently spent some time with me and my kids which may have served to reaffirm the decision in her mind. still. i'm extremely curious about what kind of doctor would perform this sort of irreversible medical procedure on a 20 year old who, no offense, doesn't know shit. [i know this comes off as paternalistic and patronizing, but i'm only speaking from experience, as a person who once thought she knew all of the things, but recently discovered she does not know any of the things.... and i think this is a pretty common path to (dis)enlightenment.] anyway, that's a different issue altogether.

then, a single (or rather, serially dating) male friend of mine asked me whether i thought he would someday regret not having kids. i got to thinking about the decision whether or not to have kids in the context of this blog post/article/open letter that has been floating around online for years and keeps resurfacing. (it has been reposted eleventy billion times all over the interwebs as early as 2008 but i can't seem to find who actually wrote it.) a girlfriend of mine just posted it again. it's basically a mom and her grown daughter, and the daughter "half-jokingly" says she's taking a survey on whether she and her husband should have a baby. the mom says "it will change your life" and the daughter replies, "i know, no more sleeping in, no more spontaneous vacations..." but the mom is like, gurrrrrrl, that will be the LEAST of your concerns! just kidding :) she goes on to talk about all the ways that motherhood will change you - ways that you wouldn't have believed in a million years and ways that you won't understand until you realize that those changes have already occurred. the way it's written, the mom appears to keep the inner dialogue to herself - because, to be honest - it's not something you could ever adequately explain, even if you tried. so instead, she simply says, "you will never regret it."

and i think she's right. maybe my personal experience and sample pool are misleading, but i know a lot of people with kids. people who had "oops" babies at 18. people who had "oops" babies at 45. people who tried for years before finally having a baby (or three!) people who always wanted babies and got pregnant every time they tried. people who couldn't have babies and adopted. people who could have babies and adopted. of all of the baby-makers, baby-bakers and baby-caretakers i know, i have never met anyone who regretted having children, whether it was a well-thought-out decision or a total surprise. as i've said before, i may have momentary regrets, for a minute, an hour, or the duration of a cross country flight, but all in all, my kids (and their co-creator ;)) are, hands-down, the best parts of my world. i was never one of those girls who always dreamed of being a mommy, but when i thought about my future, there were two kid-shaped spots in it. (until i had one. then that double-wide spot shrank down to a single. but we ultimately braved baby #2 and i could not be happier or more thankful that we did.) plus, when i was in 5th grade that game MASH told me i was going to have two kids, so obviously, my fate was sealed ;)

though baby boy was a wee bit of a surprise, i'm assuming the infamous "biological clock" would have started ticking eventually. in any event, we would have started trying sooner rather than later, because we knew someday we wanted to be parents, and also because both my Ob-Gyn and my former employer had recently told me i better get on it because my eggs were rotting. anyway, the point is, if i could do it all again, i wouldn't change a thing. (well, i might change one tiny part - to wait until after (or during!) the month-long belated honeymoon trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua - as opposed to finding out two days before we left! i'm still campaigning for a do-over. ;))

but the bottom line is, being a mom is the best thing, EVER. unfortunately, it is also the WORST thing ever. i read a quote once - "motherhood is the only way to experience heaven and hell at the same time." truer words were never spoken. it melts your heart and kicks your ever-lovin ass. anyone who says different is drunk, high, or LYING. but at the end of the day, you'll never regret it. i don't know if it's hormones or pheromones or Stockholm Syndrome or pregnancy-induced psychosis or all of the above, but once you drink that koolaid, there's just no turning back.

the question is.... what if you don't drink the koolaid? i've seen another quote (i love me some quotes) that says something along the lines of "people with kids and people without kids are always feeling sorry for the other.." but i think that's only half true. maybe child-free people don't know what they're missing, but i, for one, do know what i'm missing! lazy mornings. naps. a clean house. the luxury of deciding what i want to do today. spontaneity. rowdy sex during the daylight hours. vacations. (i'm talking about vacations, not a "family trips.") reading a book on the couch or having a cheesy movie marathon on a rainy day. peeing alone. self-indulgent sick days. deciding to have wine and popcorn for dinner (or breakfast! sub mimosas for wine, obv). sunbathing without being interrupted every 13 seconds to save one of my kids from drowning. i better stop before i go jump out my 18th floor window. oh wait. i don't have a window. phew, lol.

i saw an ad on TV recently - i think it was for expedia. they were walking up to strangers in a park and saying hey, i have this ticket to Fiji (or Australia or Japan or wherever it was), it leaves in 3 hours, wanna go? most people said no. but someone said yes (or at least, a paid actor made me believe he was "Joe 9-to-5" and he said "Hell yes!")... sigh.... that will never be me again. at least, not for the next 16 years, six months, and 5 days ;) i need at least 2 weeks' notice to schedule a happy hour. transcontinental vacation? fuhgeddaboutit. that's just not my life anymore. and while i wouldn't trade what i have for the world, i sure do miss parts of that old life! which is why, when friends ask me if i think they'll regret not having kids, i'm like, "Hell no!" now, i'm not necessarily advocating making that decision permanently at the age of 20. but if you're of "that age" and you're feeling the pressure from mom or grandma or your perfect happily married sister who's on her 4th angel baby and you're wondering whether you should have kids "before it's too late," then my answer to you is a resounding "NO!" one of my besto's has a rule = "No Shoulds." try it! it'll change your life! and of all the things in the entire universe, the decision whether or not to reproduce is probably the best possible place to employ this simple philosophy. if you want them, by all means, get busy! if not, or if you're just on the fence about it, or maybe you don't but feel like you "should," then don't do it! i think i can safely say that your life will be infused with plenty of passion, love and meaning, and hey, if for any reason you need a little kid fix, i will happily loan my tiny terrorists to you any day of the week. i also think i may have seen some for rent or sale in Tijuana. just kidding. sort of.

this same logic also applies to the "should we have a second child or just have the one and only?" decision, which, apparently, draws nearly as much BS as the decision to remain child-free. i don't really understand that at all. it's such a personal decision. i mean, i'm sorry, but, whose uterus are we talking about here?! you might as well be advising me which brand of tampons to use, for all the stake you have in the decision, only, in this case, the tampons cost at least $241,080 and are an 18+ year commitment.

seriously though. i can't even pretend to understand the stress and turmoil this societal/familial pressure causes, especially for a female of child-bearing age. i have some friends (men and women, single and couples) who have decided not to have kids. notably, nobody really gives the guys any flak. it's always the ones with the uteri that get it. you would not believe some of the shit people say! family members, and even complete strangers. it's appalling. i wish i could be there to give the speakers a violent shake and say, do you think that is helpful??? AT ALL??? but you can't let someone bully you into a decision like that. also, FYI, in case you can't tell by the rapid proliferation of wrinkles and gray hair and the mismatched flip flops and the magic marker cheek- and forehead-tattoos and the declining IQ and the eternal state of frazzle - this shit's freaking hard as f*ck. i would not recommend it if you're just looking for a new hobby. try pilates or get a gerbil instead.

or a hedgehog. omg. LOOK AT IT!
* i asked my brother to ask his friend if it was okay to write about some of our convos on the blog. he was like, "i'll ask her but i'm sure it's fine. you gotta use non-baby blog fodder where you can get it!" ha! don't be silly, brother. obviously i'll still find a way to make this about children ;)
[update: my brother just read this and informed me (out of some sense of obligation to his friend or to the maligned medical professional, i'm not sure ;)) that there was a pre-existing condition as well as psychological counsel that went into his friend's decision, she didn't just show up at a doc-in-the-box on tubes-tied-tuesday. sorry. i am not an investigative journalist ;)]
** update #2 - my "serially dating" (male) friend mentioned above just asked me "Can you get pregnant on birth control?" Me: "If you do not take it at the same time every day as directed, yes." Him: "Shit. I had unprotected sex with this girl I just started dating. But she showered afterwards so that helps, right?" ummmmmmmmm............ wait. what? it helps her SMELL BETTER. it does not WASH THE SPERM OUT OF HER VAGINA!!!!!
*** by the way, i hope no part of this post comes off as "oh people without kids just don't get it" (except this ^ guy. ya gotta love 'im, but he clearly does not get it, and by "it," i mean, basic anatomy, biology, and life). but, there are some wonderful and terrible things about parenthood that you can't know until you live through them, just as there are things i will never know again, e.g., what it is like to have expendable income, have uninterrupted conversations with grown-ups about grown-up things, get dressed without someone pointing out that my belly is "squishy," my butt "looks funny," or dumping the entire contents of my underwear drawer on the floor, and hey, maybe even use the bathroom without having to hear a play-by-play. in fact, i actually get some of my best parenting advice from people without kids. something about not being "in the shit" (literally and figuratively) gives them some useful perspective and insight. and/or the fact that they have access to 63% more brain cells than i do.

this is funny. from on the parents zone.
i like that it highlights my one major qualification for being a mom -
i <3 disneyland!!!

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