Print Story We can never go back.
By technician (Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 04:05:31 PM EST) (all tags)
I mean, we're already travelling forward in time. Why no awards for that?

Hanging out with my brother's youngest, it occurs to me that 1) I totally could have had a kid years ago that would be this cool and 2) my sister-in-law's kids make me very, very sad. They could have been this good, see, had they been in a proper situation, or maybe had I and the wife been more involved when we found the situation lacking. Or is it genetics? They're on heavy psychotropics. Nature or nurture? It's such a messy question, and it's a little of everything in their case. They've been brought up in a chaos, literally (the house is hoarder-quality bad) and figuratively.

Thing is, the 13 year old that spent a week living with us was unlike anyone I'd ever spent any time with. Calm, cool, smart, analytic, intelligent but not pushy, didn't try to prove himself or his intelligence, content. Happy. Played video games like a mofo, exhibited zero interest in the things that his older brother liked at the same age (namely sports games, chicks, and punk rock). Likes Pink Floyd and playing TF2, big into Futurama. Not a huge fan of food or sugary things.

Smart, great sense of humor (very mature, great sense of the absurd), pliable to new ideas and new experiences. Precisely the sort of kid I'd want.

We did all sorts of stuff, but he demanded nothing; he was content to hang out, talk, play video games, share odd videos and info on the internet, drive around aimlessly, whatever. I ended up with more time off than I thought I'd have, and we ended up all over town despite the heat and a city designed for active 20-somethings with a cocktail fetish. It was good.

One night we're on the couch and he's showing me stupid Youtube videos, stuff people have made of TF2 characters and odd animated craziness. I show him the crazy stuff that I've collected, the really nutty King of the Hill video remixes, the odd music video. A very late night of crazy memetic enjoyment.

His whole visit, it was a very good thing, is what I'm saying.

When I dropped him off at the airport, I was able to escort him to the gate. Hanging out with him as the departure time drew near, we both got quiet.

"I'm not sure how to put this," I said to him, "but I think you've changed my mind about something, and it's something no one has ever been able to change my mind about."

He looked at me, puzzling it over. "Is it about kids?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said. "Yeah. I know folks who have kids. The younger ones are great. But some of those kids, as they have aged, they've all turned into problems wrapped in problems, absorbed in themselves. Except for maybe my co-worker's kids, but they're some superhuman experiment. You, though...we share genes. You should be a hell raising maniac" (to this he lifted his arms over his head and waved them back and forth saying "AAAAAAAARRRRRRR") "but instead you're this incredible human being."

He shrugged, unable to respond...he's uncomfortable with praise.

I told him I was going to miss him, and he said he'd miss us too, and that he had a lot of fun with us. When he boarded, I walked back out into the heat toward the car, actually tearing up. Not just because he's family, and not just because he's such a great kid and I was missing him terribly. No, it was also something else. Something very deep shifted in me. Some shelf of ice broke free.

That night, I tell the wife, hey, maybe we should have a kid.

I've spent the rest of the week since then in a very deep, very quiet space. I'm trying to answer a set of concerns I've had since I was old enough to procreate. I've got to sort out, do I want every decision to affect a biology that will extend far into the future? Is this world something I want to impose on another human? Am I egoless enough to properly focus on a child? Is my marriage stable? Is the future stable?

I'm thinking. I've literally never thought about it this much before; I'd made my mind up about this when I was 20, and all my confirmation bias supported that decision. But now?

Now what?

< surviving a roast | This world has only one sweet moment set aside for us >
We can never go back. | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
so yeah. by clock (4.00 / 2) #1 Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 04:33:24 PM EST
i still wake up some days and go, "whoa.  what did we do?!"  and then i talk to The Dude for a few minutes and think, "yeah.  we did that!  and it rocks!"

you've got it in you.  hell, we did it, right?

worth thinking about...ya know?

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

We waited 10 years by iGrrrl (4.00 / 2) #2 Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:05:45 PM EST
I'd made up my mind about it, too, but it changed. We'd been married 10 years before K came along, and now she's just turned 11. Like clock, my partner and I still look at each other and say, "We have kids?!" We weren't really planning on it for the first five years, and it took five more until we decided to stop preventing it. Even then, we had already had the discussion about whether we would go into the realm of fertility treatments, etc. if it wasn't easy (we would not have). We didn't feel like anything was missing from our lives.

And, now that we have them, life is bigger. (I also apologized to all my friends who had children much earlier for my cluelessness about kids' schedules, etc.) It's less convenient and more complicated, logistically and emotionally. It's joyful and irritating, and so many other things in between. It's heartbreaking and heartmending in ways I can't describe. Nothing was missing from our lives before; our lives just got bigger.

Earlier today we took the bike trail down to Woods Hole to go to Pie in the Sky. The kids were ahead of me, and I was musing around this very subject. I was happy. Content with a twist of amazed joy.
"I honestly pity the stupid motherfucker who tries to talk down to iGrrrl" - mrgoat

Kids by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #3 Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:31:55 PM EST
Lots of things to consider.  To say that kids take sacrifice is no joke.  They cost a crapload of money, a crapload of time and massively restrict your freedom. It's not a rationally self-interested choice.

But we're wired for it.  It is very rare to find a parent who regrets making that sacrifice, which is strange, because if I really understood the sacrifice, I'm not sure I would have done it.  But that's because before, the kid was just an abstraction while now he's something more important than anyone on the planet.

Or putting it another way: Spending a couple hours playing minecraft with the kid is awesome, but comes at a cost: sometimes you come home wanting to just jell and there's the kid, wanting to play minecraft.

One thing I can say is that all the assumptions about what my kid would be like have proved to be silly.  Yeah, the kid is definitely mine personality-wise.  We know where he got everything from.  But he's his own person.  He'll make his own mistakes, not the mistakes I made, or the mistakes of my parents.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

I'm right there with you. by toxicfur (4.00 / 2) #4 Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:56:10 PM EST
I'd decided not to have kids when I was in my mid-20s. It seemed like too much to give up, and my life was way too unstable. I made it definitively again when I was around 30. Then, a couple of years ago, I realized that it wasn't necessarily too late to rethink that decision. I still don't know what I want to do. Most days, I think my life is awesome. Some days, I think of what my life would be like in 10 years without a kid, and I wonder just how much regret I'll have (I'm sure I'll have some; whether that "some" is enough, I don't know).

And then I think: how selfish is it of me to want to have a kid? To raise this other person all by myself, which means that money would be tight, and all those things his/her peers would have or do wouldn't necessarily be available? To have a kid knowing that I might have a genetic ticking time bomb that would end my life in 15 or 20 years? To have a kid knowing that I need time to myself to be sane? To have a kid knowing that my biological family is 800 miles away and probably wouldn't be all that interested in helping me out anyway?

But there's no rational reason to have a kid, I think, and lots of rational reasons not to. Even so, I hear the clock ticking and I wonder.
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin

My $0.02 by lb008d (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:29:24 PM EST
What's the population estimate for 2050? 9 billion? 12 billion?

Unrestricted and unsustainable population growth will be the end of Homo Sapiens, one way or another, and I'm not interested in contributing. I would not say the future is stable, at all.

Going along with that, neither I nor my wife have felt the need to have children, so there's that as well.

That being said, I do like children, especially my two nieces.

Also, I wish more people put as much thought into the decision as you are and as have most people on this site.

nature finds a way. by dev trash (4.00 / 0) #7 Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 11:14:31 AM EST

[ Parent ]
It would be hard on the Doc's career, I think. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 2) #6 Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:26:13 PM EST
Then again, if she wanted to take the plunge, I think you both have the right demeanour for it.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Raising Good Kids by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 09:58:24 AM EST
I would wager that your brother is very involved with his kids.  That he shows them that he loves them and that he cares about them and what happens in their lives.  That he focuses on them and shows them they are important for no better reason than the fact that they are important.  I think that's what defines how a kid turns out well adjusted as a teen ager and an adult.  They need to have things put into perspective for them, but they also need to know that they are the single most important part of their parents lives.  

When I took ethics in college the professor, who has since passed away, had a profound impact on my thinking.  One class he asked the question, "what's the reason to have children?"  Since we were all between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three no one got the answer.  There certainly is one.

Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
I was thinking about this question yesterday by yankeehack (4.00 / 2) #9 Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 12:31:32 PM EST
-On the way back from picking up LO from camp, her and I were catching up asking each other questions. Her third question to me was "So, has anything happened in the world when I was gone, floods, more shootings, war with Kazakhstan?" That question right there, made me proud to be her Mom.

I should also mention her counselor just gushed about her and how she helped and how she was "a credit" to me. And she won two camp awards, one of them for taking the initiative with a girlfriend, hanging out with a younger kid camper group helping and having fun.

On the other hand, she put a load of clothes in our washing machine last night, didn't think to check it and flooded our basement with water. But that's living with a teenager.

-When I look back at my life, I have a few what ifs...but I've never ever ever questioned LO's presence. It's weird, I can see myself with other partners, in different scenarios but in my thoughts even if I had a daughter younger or older, she'd still be LO.

-I do have stresses and worries about LO, but they're related to logistics and the worry about giving LO the means and guidance to be a happy, healthy adult. I don't think my worries and stresses are outsize, per se, I do however, bear the brunt of them because of the situation.

-When LO was a toddler, I realized that she was different than me in temperament and personality. I was heartbroken that I didn't have a quiet little girly girl, but I realized that I needed to provide her with opportunities to grow and learn and that was my job, I did come to peace.

-Last, but not least, I think that the role of aunties and uncles are underrated in this modern world. It does take a village to raise a child. Maybe it's because we usually live so far away from our families or we don't have the neighborhoods of earlier times, where we might go to our uncle's house or hang out with the retired neighbor down the street or other parents would watch out for our kids. Instead, modern kids are shuttled from one adult directed activity to another. I think having caring adult presences from our families and the community - in our kids lives makes them richer and more nuanced.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB

Raising a kid is an awe inducing experience by lm (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 02:25:35 PM EST
There isn't much I've done in life that has taught me more about myself and the discrepancy between the person who I actually am and whom I like to think of myself as.

And, at least in my case, watching my girls grow up and turn into the people that they are has been one of the best experiences of my life. In many ways I feel like I won the lottery with the way my kids are turning out.

But at time it's also been difficult and trying and has stretched me to the end of my wits more than I had believed was possible.

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
My first thoughts by theboz (4.00 / 2) #11 Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 05:31:56 PM EST
I know this is your diary and everything, but what does your wife think about the idea?  I think that is far more important than anything else.  If she's not enthusiastically on board, then there's no sense thinking about anything else.  Just make sure she's on board, and not just to humor you, then start thinking about the logistics and everything.

Also, you're in the "cool uncle" zone.  The reality is that most kids are good, especially with people they look up to.  Parents are a different story.  Basically, the relationship with your nephew isn't what being a father is like.  Sure, it can be like that sometimes, but that's just a small piece of it.

The other factor is the process in general.  Pregnancy and childbirth can be tough.  We have a whole mini-library of books on what it's like being pregnant and what to do, if it's possible at all for you.  If it's not, adoption can be a stressful, difficult time as well.  Part of being a parent is being able to face tragedy and heartbreak in ways you don't expect.

That being said, I'm not trying to discourage you.  I think you'd do a great job as a father and the Doctor would be a great mother.  I have no idea what it's like to be a parent of a 13 year old, but small ones are nice.  I could write a lot to psych you up to wanting a kid, but I'll wait until you are sure about it before I do that.
- - - - -
That's what I always say about you, boz, you have a good memory for random facts about pussy. -- joh3n

My son is 13... by Phil the Canuck (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 08:19:07 AM EST
...and I think he's cool as hell.  Absolutely one of my favorite people all-time.  We have to stay on him about his grades and sometimes tell him not to be a jerk to his little sister, but that's about it.  Behavioral and certain other disorders aside, kids are what you make them.

Kids by Herring (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:51:12 AM EST
They have their moments

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Awesome. by technician (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 10:17:06 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Wow. by littlestar (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 02:52:58 PM EST
I'm surprised by this. Hahahaha... I guess you were too. That's neat. I love it when the world shows us a new way to look at something and makes us really think about it.

The world of kids is nutty to be sure, changes everything yata-yata-yata but you sure do get some really nice life moments out it, and you learn an awful lot you just could not unless you had them. Like any experience I suppose, but it's such a large one. You guys would be great parents, that's for sure. I'm so interested to hear about how your thinking about this goes. 

We can never go back. | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)