Answers, Part II

(Image from here)

Today’s question comes from loyal reader Durdlin who asks:

“What do you think you’d be doing now if you hadn’t had children?”

My first thought, the one that popped into my head before I even processed the question?  “One hell of a lot less laundry, that’s for damn sure.”

I asked Owen what he thought I’d be doing.  “Watching this same TV show.  Only louder, because there wouldn’t be any kids sleeping upstairs.”

I think we’re both right.

When I was pregnant with The Boy, a co-worker of my husband’s was trying to tell us what it was “really” like to have kids.  He asked us what, in our childless at-the-time lives, we liked doing.  I opened my mouth to answer.  He cut me off with, “Yeah, you can’t do that anymore.”  No matter what the answer was, his point was that our lives were now, effectively, over.

I respectfully disagree.

Granted, if I had no kids, I would and could be more selfish.  I would still sleep late.  I would make rash decisions.  I would see my friends more often.  I would still have some of the friends I had back then.  I would still spend right up to my last dollar, and then spend that dollar on a used book.  I would have more clothes.  I would have seen more of the world.

I might have figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I might have moved far away.  I might have asked for a divorce.  I might have tried crazy, illegal things.

I wouldn’t have gotten my shit together.  I wouldn’t laugh so much.  I wouldn’t have the friends I have.  I wouldn’t be in this house.  I wouldn’t care about things like recycling and cell phone tower placement and community school closures.  I wouldn’t be working through my own demons in such a practical way.  I wouldn’t ever know if I’d done the right thing.

If I hadn’t had these kids, I think I’d be wondering if I’d made the right choice, to be childless.  And the flip side of that is that I have these kids.  And I don’t ever wonder if I made the right choice.

::Answers Part I::

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30 responses to “Answers, Part II

  1. When you’re in the middle of raising kids it feels like the years go on forever. now that mine are grown up I can’t believe how soon it was over.

    I’m glad I had them when I was so young though, none of that angst about will I or won’t I and when is the right time….

    Now I’m able to travel overseas or work long hours, lie in bed all day or not cook a meal for a week if that’s what I feel like. It’s wonderful…. plus I have two gorgeous sons to show for all that hard work!

    • I don’t think I got serious about considering kids until a guy I worked with (after his 4th kid) said, “I love them, but I wish we’d started earlier.” Lie in bed all day….oh god, I’d kill for a day like that.

  2. Wowsers… good answer.

  3. I know where i’d be if i didn’t have kids… dead most likely.

    Nothing helps curb bad habits like the responsibility of little babies and i thank my lucky stars every time i get up at 3am to feed Kid B and i did the same with Kid A and when i was sit in that room rocking them in the quiet of 3am i think that this is a helluvalot more peaceful than ramming blow up your nose and chain smoking cigarettes and guzzling beer with strippers who can barely put words together at 3am, who’ll be even more incoherent at 6am but will looking to cop more schnitzel for their honkers and looking at you like an ATM machine, oh yeah it can be amusing for awhile but then reality sets in and the sun rises and you wake up when it’s night feeling like you’ve run a marathon when all you did was sleep and you shower, get stoned, have some left over pizza and somehow wind up in some dive again telling yourself that you won’t do that again tonight and you pull your head up off the plate, sniff and say fuck is it really 6am already?

    of course that’s just my take on it.

  4. LOVE that answer! It’s perfect!

  5. Perfect response – you may seem to give up everything but you get ten million things back in return!

  6. Lynne Melcombe

    Apparently, none of you have had teenagers yet.

  7. I vaguely remember a line from Edward Burns movie the Groomsmen when two guys, one already a father and one about to be are talking about how life changes when you have kids and the already be-kidded one says, you miss freetime and what’s freetime, not like you were doing much with it before.

  8. ooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Best answer ever. I love this: “If I hadn’t had these kids, I think I’d be wondering if I’d made the right choice, to be childless. And the flip side of that is that I have these kids. And I don’t ever wonder if I made the right choice.”

  9. I just became an instant parent this past weekend – we took in a teenaged foster daughter. So far, pretty low impact on our lifestyle. We’ve had to change our night-owl ways and (gasp!) actually eat at the dinner table. We’re lucky that she’s such a good kid. I’m sure there will be problems at some point, but we can handle it. (I hope!)

    On the plus side, no dirty diapers! =)

  10. ChesneyCheetos

    Wow. I leave for what, a week? A week and a half? And all the good stuff happens!

    Dammit.

    Ah well. At least I can sit back and soak up all this wonderful advice.

  11. Jennifer Curtis

    oh I just love this post!! I almost fell out of the chair when I read the…”Apparently, none of you have had teenagers yet.t”post.

    I love my kids! 19 and 15, but Oh MY GOWD… I could have completely done without the teenage years.

    Good luck with that Ginny!!!! I would trade sleepless nights over bitchy attitudes and completely closed off personality.

    Enjoy them while they are young. I recently heard on NPR from a neurological specialist that they don’t develop their frontal lope ( the decision and rational thinking part of the brain) until they are 25. I completely agree! Well at least I am clinging to that hope.. that at 25 they will me normal rational adults again!

    here’s hoping.

  12. I don’t know anyone who regrets their kids. But I do know people who regret the timing of them. Here in Utah, people are pressured to get married and have kids really young. Same for old people who were on the 1930s-40s-50s schedule. My grandma got married right out of college and took care of kids for the next 3 decades. Then she had to care for aging parents. Then adult kids who had family/financial problems. Then a sick husband. Now she’s a widow in her 80s and doesn’t have the knees to keep up with every daydream. She’s not regretful, but she has said she’s jealous of people who were raised to treasure their single/childless years before settling down.

  13. I’m with Deb – that last line was excellent. It made me very, very sad.

  14. I love my kids (23, 21 and 14) too. But my oldest was hell on wheels when he was 15. I wanted to die every day. It was that bad.

    Then he grew out of it and we had to deal with the next one, who was not as bad. Partly different personality and partly that she’d experienced what it was like with her big bro, I think.

    And then just as she was growing out of it, we started having major troubles with our oldest again. We had to kick him out. He didn’t speak to us for 6 months. Truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through — right up there with the last year of my mother’s life.

    It’s good now, most of the time. He lives with his fiancee — wonderful young woman — visits often. But still, sometimes, we get into arguments and the old pain comes back.

    I remember receiving a baby congrats card when one of them was born. It said, basically, it’s a good thing that kids are born babies instead of teenagers, cuz otherwise the species would die out.

    I don’t regret having my children but, as I watch my sister go through absolute hell with her oldest, and brace myself for the day when my youngest forgets what a great kid she is and decides to be, well, a teenager, I do sometimes wonder what life would be like now if I’d decided to take that au pere job in Paris in 1980 and continue travelling the world.

    Instead, I came home and got a job, where I met my husband — and the rest is history. No doubt, if I hadn’t ever had kids, I would regret it. My life wouldn’t feel complete.

    But I love to fantasize, sometimes, about spending a whole life without ever having a child I poured myself into, tell me, in very graphic terms, over and over and over again, how much he hated me.

    Gave me a whole new level of respect for my own parents, and made me wish I could go back and apologize.

    Too late for me to do that now, but to those of you who aren’t orphans yet — do yourselves an enormous favour and tell your parents you are sorry for anything mean you ever said or did and that you think they are quite possibly the world’s greatest gift to parenting.

    After they’re gone, it will mean so much to you that you did.

  15. Unless, of course, they really were horribly abusive parents, in which case please disregard everything I just wrote!

  16. My diatribe got me thinking about parenting adult children and I wrote this on http://www.mommysknowbest.com/ (I’m motherofpearls and the post is called Parenting Adult Children — It Never Ends, Thank Goodness.)

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