Why you should(n’t) be a parent

Of the many hats I wear, “Father” is the one that feels most comfortable. I must admit that I was (am?) scared shitless when I found out that I was going to be a dad a little over 2 years ago. How could I be a Dad? How could I afford it? Can I still party hard? Did I have to put away my Tool CDs in favor of Barney or whatever other monstrosity was being marketed to kids these days? Would my wife and I still be able to maintain our close relationship? So many thoughts, mostly worries, ran through my head those first few months. And I really had no idea what to expect. No one does. My wife is due again in September, and I’ve been able to finally reconcile with myself that I have no idea what to expect this time around, and that revelation is okay.

But for the 4 of you out there that read this blog and don’t have children, I thought I’d put together a little list of reasons as to why you shouldn’t have kids. People that have kids and those that don’t live in two completely different worlds, and I thought this might put into perspective just how different things can be. The responsibilities are endless and paramount, but there are lessons to be learned along the way.

So without further ado, here are some reasons as to why you shouldn’t have kids (and if you stick around, there might be a few reasons as to why you should).

1. You shouldn’t have kids if you value sleep. I seriously haven’t slept more than 4 or 5 hours straight in almost 2 years. Routinely I’m only getting about 5 hours of sleep a night. And with another child on the way, I can look forward to not sleeping through the night for another two years or so. Yippee! Though I have heard rumors that they now make kids that learn to fall asleep, and I’m considering trading mine in for one of those…

2. You shouldn’t have kids if you value your free time. Because, there is no free time. There is only parenting time, work, and sleep. Sure, after the kids go to bed you can sit around, watch some TV, read or whatever, but usually for us that means fall down on couch exhausted. Might be partially due to the fact that Corbin never, ever slows down. His thirst for knowledge and inquisitive nature lead him to be constantly discovering and running around. The kid is a sponge. He’s just under 18 months and can count to 10, read letters in succession, name 16+ species of dinosaurs and 20 Marvel super heros. That’s not me bragging (I have no idea what other kids his age are fixated on) that’s just examples of the things he soaks up. He didn’t settle with just learning Spider Man  and Allasaurus, he wanted to know about Hulk and Rouge (he has a Marvel super hero poster, he calls them “super guys”) and pteranodon and diplodocus (dinosaur book). He simply has to know these things. He needs constant stimulation or he gets frustrated. Also, he’s pretty young, and not quite to the “hey I’ll just play in my room for the next hour” phase yet. Also, he figured out how to dismantle the baby gate, so there is no more baby prison around my place.

3. You shouldn’t have kids if you enjoy having extra cash. This one is a given. Extra mouths require extra food which requires diapers and clothes and toys and co-pays and Iron Man plates and boxes of crayons and an endless supply of paper.

So, okay those are pretty ubiquitous when it comes to parenting, and most people know (at least in some part) that these things will happen going in. But then there are a ton of little things as well. Like heading to a friend’s house that isn’t baby-proofed. And I’m not even talking about locks on drawers, but just stuff lying around in arms reach of my toddler. You put your child’s safety and your friend’s CD/faberge egg/replica Tie Fighter collection at risk. So then rather than visiting, you spend most of your time corralling.

Or then there’s shopping. It used to be we could head to 5-6 different grocery/supply stores in one day to do all of our shopping, but that can’t happen anymore. Now we can hit a max of about 3 (maybe 4) stores because we have to take into consideration his nap time, snack time, bed time, diaper changes, and general fussiness about being locked in a car seat/shopping kart for a few hours. Having kids can be a pain in the ass! There, I said it.

The point is, having a child doesn’t just change your life, it becomes your life. It affects who you are and what you do in every way imaginable (and many that aren’t). It used to be that scary/sad movies didn’t affect me much. But now I start to well up anytime I see a child in danger, getting abused or when anything bad happens to a kid on TV (or in the news). I am no longer Adam. I am now Daddy. And it is through this filter that I now view life.

With this change comes an opportunity to examine our selves. Parenting, much like Buddhism, is a process of discovery. We can look at ourselves and ask, “okay, why is it that I feel that having kids can be a pain in the ass sometimes?” Usually it comes down to an inconvenience, laziness, apathy, not being able to be okay with the present moment, or some such thing. You’re then able to uncover the motivations behind those excuses and really dredge some shit up. Which can then lead to the revelation that you loathe the person looking back at you in the mirror, because the person you see is a reflection of a person you don’t want to be. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing because at that point, you’re able to actually do something about the “problems” and baggage we’re carrying around with us. You have to be a little disgusted by yourself to effect some change in your life. At this point you can then begin the process of striving for the change you are looking for. Those excuses you came up with about why it’s so damn hard to wake up in the middle of the night and why you’d rather be golfing with friends than feeding your kid dinner suddenly start to look ridiculous upon evaluation. They don’t go away overnight (or ever?), but you can begin to see them for what they are: hindrances. They hinder your ability to fully embrace this moment with kind-heartedness and acceptance. They hinder your ability to produce the end results you fantasize about (rather than put into action). And they hinder your ability to live with the love you usually feel about being a parent. Because even though the responsibilities of being a parent are enormous, a majority of the time we are able to embrace them with joy and a smile.

So if you can get over all the crap you have to deal with as a parent (which you may just fall in love with), that I talked about in the beginning of this post you might find there is a greater source of joy out there than you could ever imagine and discover quite a bit about yourself along the way.  For for me, that simple joy comes from moments like these, moments I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for:

 

 

 

Cheers.

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20 Comments

Filed under Buddhism, Parenting

20 responses to “Why you should(n’t) be a parent

  1. fantastic post Adam, and right on point!

  2. wait, other shane you have readers who don’t have kids? really? just kidding.

    Good post, Adam.

    It sounds like the makings of a great Rohatsu TV special… The Littlest Bodhisattva

    oh wait we live in the US… nevermind.

    again. awesome.

    I promsie to update the link on my blogroll to this blog isntead of the other now defunct blog, really I will…someday.

    😉

    • you’re right. probably only 1 or 2 that read this and don’t have kids!

      no sweat, that reminded me to put up your bayou buddhist blog on my roll. gotta go through and update my roll sometime soon.

  3. Dude, those pictures are just too cute! Good post bro.

  4. I am one of your non-kid friends. I knew that I wouldn’t be father material from early on, and thankfully my wife didn’t want children either.

    We both talked that one through thoroughly before getting married. I don’t think either way is right or wrong but just a word of advice…talk it over with your fiancee before getting married. I’ve seen happy couples break up over not being on the same page about kids before getting married.

    Anyway, I love my nieces and nephews though and spoil them when I can 😉 I know I made the right decision not to have kids and, Adam, it sounds like you made the right decision TO have kids. I will try and baby-proof my house a bit more the next time my friends with kiddos show up!! 🙂 Btw your kid is adorable and sounds like a budding genius!! Kuddos to you and your bride. 🙂

    • Absolutely James. Not everyone wants kids, and that’s perfectly fine! You’re right on target in that you’ve gotta discuss that beforehand. I’ve seen a few relationships break up because of that as well. That’s usually one of those things people thing they can eventually “fix” about their significant other. Never happens.

      Cheers.

  5. Yep, yep. I know some people think it’s selfish not to have kids but I don’t think they’ll be a shortage of children anytime soon. 🙂 And besides, who then would take up the monkhood?!! LOL. It’s great to have all kinds in this world. Those with kids, those with foster kids, those with no kids and single people as well. I just relish how diverse this beautiful world is.

  6. At age 29, I consciously decided to not have children precisely because children are so amazing, and so challenging, and so important. I had thought about getting my tubes tied beginning at age 15, first out of fear of a pregnancy I’d have to explain to my parents, and then simply because kids seemed like a huge responsibility. That decision has made my life my own.

    I love children. I love the way a trusting, exhausted toddler becomes a part of my body as they cling to my torso. I was a teacher because I wanted time with children who needed my attention (but that is another lifetime, another story entirely). My nieces and nephew amaze and delight me. However much I love kids, though, I just thought life sounded a whole lot easier if I could borrow them and give them back. A few pregnancy scares finally led to the decision to permanently disable the baby-making apparati. That, and the idea that it was cruel to foist on a helpless child my own anxiety problems, perfectionism, and other less-than-stellar traits.

    So here I am, watching my friends raise wonderful children, some successfully, some not. The challenges my friends face every day because of their decision to have children (or their decision to forego birth control) make me so happy I chose as I did. I can be the crazy Auntie, planning outings and giving my friends a break from the carousel of work-parent-sleep-repeat. I can have my grown-up time free of the need to clean up my language or for that matter wear clothing in my own home.

    I love kids. I love myself. I love that we have the choice to decide our parenting status, and that I made the right choice for me.

    • “The challenges my friends face every day because of their decision to have children (or their decision to forego birth control) make me so happy I chose as I did. ”

      Well, there ya go. 🙂

  7. m0ok

    ..and 5) you shouldn’t have kids if you don’t want to? 😉

  8. Really enjoyed this article! I have an 18 month old boy that sounds very much like your son… non-stop! My wife and I are expecting our second child (due in August) so I can appreciate your situation. It’s nice to read an article that reflects some of my own thoughts as we approach this new phase of our life.

    • Good luck with that! I was hoping for some sleep come this fall/winter, but looks like that plan is out the window…..

  9. Nice post, Adam. I hate to burst any bubbles but even at 27 and halfway around the world in NZ, our Kid has no concept of “I’ll go play in my room now.” Really. Detachment Theory much?

    Haven’t visited in a long time so love the “new” look.

    What happened to “Bodhi Father” btw?

    Genju

    • Ha! sounds like he’s on the same road as your son….

      I closed down Bodhi Father because… well…. it was too much to try and keep up with 2 blogs, both with specific themes and I didn’t feel the need to create that division. As it is, I’m considering closing this one down in favor of something more encompassing.

      Or not, because mostly I’m a spaz.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  10. My wife and I have been married for seven years and have not yet decided to have kids. We both agree that eventually we would like one or two but have not yet felt like we are ready to take on the responsibilities and make the necessary sacrifices. I feel like we approach the subject much more cautiously than many of our friends. We discussed and agreed on our opinions on children before we got married. When I was 22 I was sure I would be ready or wanting kids by the time I was 30. Now I’m 29, staring down 30 and my desire for kids isn’t much stronger than it was 7 years ago.

    Adam, looks like you are a great dad with a beautiful family.

  11. Fantastic post Adam! Your cited reasons for not becoming a parent are right on, but were not presented in a condescending manner. In an earlier life, the one I lived 30 years ago, I worked with “other people’s children.” And based upon that experience, I came up with three criteria one should meet before even thinking about becoming a parent.

    1. Can you keep a plant alive? If you don’t know how to care and nurture a houseplant, then what are you going to do with a kid?

    2. Can you keep a pet alive? Fish and reptiles don’t count. I mean a cat or a dog, even a bird. And does your pet have decent manners? Does it behave well around others? If your cat pees on your house guests, what do you think your kids are gonna do?

    3. Finally, can you keep your mouth shut when your spouse says or does something in front of others that you disagree with? Praise publicly, criticize privately.

    I loved the kids I used to work with. But alas, they were always someone else’s kids.

    Metta

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