I’m a faithful reader of your blog. I don’t have kids but that doesn’t matter, your writing is awesome for anyone who isn’t into canned bullshit, and I SO appreciate it!
Soooo here’s my question, please don’t punch me in the throat – what the fuck is wrong with you people with all of these kids?! Seriously, I watched a friend’s daughter for 2 hours yesterday. TWO MEASLY FUCKING HOURS. And I wanted to curl up in a ball and die by the time she was leaving. They’re exhausting. Like to the core of my being exhausting. And that was only one 6-year old. For two hours. How the fuck does ANYTHING get done? When do you sleep? WHY DON’T THEY EVER JUST SIT DOWN AND CHILL THE FUCK OUT?
And she was really good, too. No misbehaving or anything. SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE UNRULY CHILDREN, like me when I was a little shit bird?! Or, for the love of God, more than one?! Um, I think I need to call my mother. Or buy her a BMW or some shit to make up for dealing with me from birth through at least 25. You parents are fucking super heroes, in case you didn’t realize that. THANK YOU for being willing to reproduce and repopulate the earth so I don’t have to. I think I’ll stick with my chickens!
Oh my god. I don’t know who you are, but I love you. And I’m going to answer your questions as best I can.
First of all, I don’t know why other people have kids. I barely know why I have kids. Sometimes I think about the fact that I have four of them and I’m shocked then confused then delighted and grateful, in that order, although sometimes I stop at the first one.
I had my first kid because I didn’t know what I was getting into and found myself pregnant and thought newborns were cute.
I had my second kid because my husband and I were worried our first kid would think she was the center of the universe and didn’t trust our parenting skills enough to teach her otherwise, so we created a built-in sharing requirement.
I had Georgia because we went to a bluegrass show in San Francisco and forgot birth control then figured what the hell.
I had Arlo because I REALLY NEEDED ANOTHER BABY FOR SOME REASON.
Two kids make sense, sort of. Three? Not really.
Four is what the fuck is wrong with you? Too many humans. You’re a weirdo. You have a problem. You do not fit in restaurant booths, hotel rooms, or normal cars.
Anything beyond four kids means you reside in a highly religious cult commune.
The best part is that having four kids makes little sense in the context of my life: We are not wealthy. We do not have a big house. We can’t afford two hotel rooms. Amusement parks other than Disneyland make me think only of urine and broken dreams. I enjoy personal space. Excessive motion irritates me, especially after 3pm. Large groups of mothers trying to accomplish things, like fundraisers for example, are my personal version of hell. I dislike being pregnant. I do not like being climbed on. I hate kid music. And most kid shows.
And yet, we would have babies forever if we could. I realize that’s a strange thing to say. I know that’s not everyone’s experience and I do not glamorize or glorify or elevate it beyond any other life choice. Frankly, I can’t even explain it, but I’ll try.
I never envisioned myself not having kids. Neither did my husband. By 18 or 19, I was thinking about babies. I loved them. I wanted one. I have no further explanation. This is not to say I was ready to have kids when I found myself pregnant at 22 (I was decidedly NOT), but I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I think part of this is that nobody talks about actual motherhood and we get some bullshit smocked-pastel version of it all, so maybe we think of babies like accessories, like these cute things we add to our lives like a new purse, or brooch. Nobody wears brooches. Not my point.
A lot of people see through this, have the capacity to look at parents and SEE how hard it is. Like you, for example. A lot of people don’t though. And we’re blindsided by how fucking hard and relentless it is. And wonderful, though.
You see? This is the problem my friend. It’s a big emotional clusterfuck.
There are innumerable aspects of parenting I find mundane and tiresome and generally irritating. But for me, the beauty has always outshone the negative in a profoundly real way, and here’s what I see:
I have children for the realization that a tiny life and being has been created through a connection between the person I love and me. I do it for the look in my husband’s eyes when he finds out we’re having a baby. I do it for the all-consuming love that hits me like a tidal wave in that very moment, the moment I realize a little one is coming, of me but so beyond me. Of us but eternally beyond us.
I do it for the fascination, the weirdness, the baffling reality that while the body begins from a cell, there is so much more than that: the soul, the spirit, the personality. We get to watch and love that and be part of a human crossing to join us, from where?
I do it for the mystery.
I do it for the moment I lock eyes with my newborn and he or she is placed on my chest and it’s ecstasy. I do it for newborn breath. I do it for baby rolls. I do it for smiles and laughter.
God damnit. I hate you. Now I want another baby.
And then, well, I guess I do it because I love our little tribe, our little crew. Our goofiness our joy our anger our traditions, the jokes we have, the way we are us, a unit, impenetrable and unbreakable. I do it for trips to our favorite beaches and camping and music and the friendship between siblings, watching older ones love the little ones and knowing forever they’ll have each other, long after we’re gone. I do it to learn. I do it to teach. I do it for holidays.
I hate the fucking holidays. They are the worst.
They are the best worst.
Here are my kids in matching pajamas. >>
In the end I think the only thing to say is we have fun and that outweighs the rest. And I really, really like having people.
But you have to understand something here: You can’t judge having kids by the feeling you get hanging out with other people’s kids. Other people’s kids are fucking annoying. I can count on two hands the number of kids I find engaging and tolerable, and most of them are related to me.
Oh, come on. I’m not that evil. I’m exaggerating. Sort of.
OR AM I?
The reason you can’t compare hanging out with other people’s kids to having your own is because your kids are YOUR kids in YOUR family and therefore will learn what works and what doesn’t and what’s tolerable and what isn’t in YOUR FAMILY, and this will be different from other families.
For example, whining. I fucking can’t handle whining. I don’t care how tired you are or what age you are or how badly you want the red cup. Normal voice. Figure it out. I hear other kids whine and their parents deal with it differently. No judgment on them, whatever people, but when my kids try whining – as they all do – I look at them and say “I do not understand whining” and walk away. Because I’d rather get a root canal than listen to tiny voices carry on about some bullshit they think they need.
And soon, the older kids are telling the younger ones, “Don’t baby talk. Don’t whine,” and soon nobody’s doing it because that shit is unacceptable in the house.
Also unacceptable: complaining about food, expecting special meals, not using manners, the inability to use sarcasm, watching Caillou, failing to recognize revisionist history, disliking the Grateful Dead.
THIS IS OUR HOUSE.
It’s ours. It works. My kids annoy the shit out of me but not in ways that make me question the meaning of life.
My point is that you get to raise your kids, and you’ll raise little humans that more or less fit into the culture of your family while also bringing that certain something that makes you want to scream WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU COME FROM?
I’m not saying you should have kids. By god almighty DO NOT DO THIS unless you’ve got some deep-seated overwhelming urge, because there are a thousand ways to connect with the mystery of life and enjoy cute things and have fun and have people. For example: Redwood trees, sea otters, any vacation anywhere without children because children ruin vacations, and friends.
Oh, and your other questions:
How the fuck does ANYTHING get done?
When do you sleep?
WHY DON’T THEY EVER JUST SIT DOWN AND CHILL THE FUCK OUT?
They do, when they’re older, and then you miss them being little.
This is the fucking mystery I tell you.
Also, don’t believe anything anyone says about kids. Nobody knows what they’re doing.
Have a nice day.