You’re married. You’re in love. You have your best friend by your side and the whole world is at your fingertips. So what comes next? It’s not long before everyone starts asking “so when are you guys going to have kids?”
In the beginning that question is freeing. You realize you are married now. You are probably at a decent age too. You realize you could have a kid any time you want…like on purpose. So in the beginning when that question comes it is almost a compliment. You don’t mind telling people “oh, not yet….we’re gonna wait a while and do some other things”. People seem to respect that too. They look at you like you have all of this will power and you really have thought this out and you know that you have to do certain things before children arrive because doing them after….well…if you listen to other parents…is impossible.
So in all of you marital bliss, you and your other look at each other lovingly and say “we have so much we want to do…let’s wait”. This conversation leaves you happy. You feel responsible, accomplished and maybe even a bit empowered. But there are things no one tells you…things I am now realizing. Things that are left unsaid behind the eyes of all those who asked you that “question of kindness” probably while they were holding the hand of a toddler and juggling a baby seat….things they hid well when they said “oh good for you guys…yea…you should do all the things you want to first”. So as the never ending question of “when do we really want to start a family?” is tossed back and forth between my husband and I…I thought that I would possibly enlighten the rest of you who may be thinking the same thing. Maybe you aren’t married yet but you think once you are you will wait years before your first child. Maybe you are married and just started debating a family now….or maybe you will be one of the “exceptions” to these “hidden truths” I’m about to list….no matter where you stand…I thought I would shed some light….
1. Not having kids does not equal exotic vacations.
We thought it might. I think many others do. A lot of people use this response when people ask about having kids. “Oh no…we’re not having kids any time soon….we’re going to travel”. No you’re not. If you are a newlywed you are most likely….poor. Poor means you can’t afford to travel. So you save and save…and then something goes wrong in the house that requires the same amount of money as a cruise to Alaska does. You probably also have a job that requires that you…I don’t know…be there. Most jobs only allow for about a weeks vacation per year. That means you have one shot…at one vacation….per year. So that list of seven places you wanted to get to before that baby came? Are you willing to wait seven years then? Now don’t get me wrong…there are people that can do this. Those are the exceptions my friends. They are the ones who make this statement sound fun and exciting and who make not having a baby look fun and exotic. We all know this couple. They’ve been to Europe three times…this year. They post the pictures on facebook for the world to see. You see them in Paris…having a romantic dinner…you see them someplace warm with an umbrella drink….someplace on top of some mountain hiking in all of their “baby free” glory. They are like a mirage. Something you desire to get to…but every time you get close…..your furnace breaks. So warning to those “wannabe survivor” friends of mine who think “no-baby freedom” will allow them to travel….it won’t. It also takes time, money and a job most of us newlyweds probably don’t have.
2. Not having kids does not equal having friends.
This is another one that people use in response to all the “you should be making a baby” glares they get. They tell people “we want to stay close to our friends and we know having a child will limit our free time”. Truth: Having a child WILL limit your free time….but you know what else does?…everything else in the world. Work gets busy…money needs to be made. That mortgage you were approved for isn’t as “affordable” as that realtor made it sound. And once you buy that house you are foolish not to fix it up…because let’s face it…it’s an investment…and you really are spending all of your time there. Aside from that you are most likely trying to get a higher position in that job of yours….need to support that non-existent family right?…or you need to save for that exotic vacation you said you were going to take….so wanting that raise…means covering when everyone else doesn’t want to…working longer hours…and doing more than everyone else… that makes you tired….tired makes you want to sleep….wanting to sleep means passing up on all those late-night meet-ups…or working a Saturday means missing that Friday night party. Either way…your time is still disappearing. And while you think you are the only one going through this, you are not. All of your friends are too. All those weddings you are now invited to? Yeah…those people are all dealing with the same thing as you…having less free time…becoming more of an adult…gaining more responsibility…or ::gasp::…they are having kids. Friends get harder the older you get. It is a fact of life. Everyone gets more responsibilities, more priorities, different schedules and less time for others. So if keeping your friends is the ONLY reason you are holding out on that family….I suggest you change your post…at least you’ll see people at “mommy-and-me”.
3. Not having kids excludes you.
All those friends that just took the leap? The ones that now are on baby number two or are starting to realize the pain of potty training? Those friends don’t want to talk to you anymore. It’s not a mean thing, or a personal thing. It’s a life thing. They didn’t wait to have kids…so they think your life is awesome. They look at you like the devil that was on their shoulder a year ago telling them “don’t do it” and they didn’t listen. They don’t want to see you. They don’t want to hear about how hard work is for you because they wish they could go to work. They don’t want to hear about your daily drama because they can’t get a two year old to use the potty and now their couch is forever ruined. Again…this isn’t personal…it’s just the way we as humans work. The grass is always greener…right? And one thing they really don’t want…is for you to give ANY advice…or to in any way try to relate to what they are going through….because after all…you don’t have kids. It doesn’t matter how many you’ve been around, or helped through the night, or even the amount of diapers you have changed…if you don’t have the hospital band and stretch marks to bare…they don’t want you to try. These friends have created a club. One where the entrance fee is a ::ehem:: “jay-jay” that will never be the same. And until you pay that fee….you aren’t invited to the park. So say good-bye to these friends until you’re ready to pay the piper.
4. Not having kids makes you the greatest baby-sitter of all time.
Even if you have never taken care of a child in your life….those friends I just mentioned above?…they will call when they need that one night out. That will most likely be your only communication and you will be expected to answer dutifully. After all…you don’t have kids right?…so you guys can go out any weekend…any time…any place….so how dare you deny a “friend” that opportunity when they call? A lot of times you may not mind playing house with your spouse and someone else’s baby. But word to the wise….word gets out that you actually have baby skills and return a healthy, fed, clean and happy baby back to their parents?!!….you will never again have a weekend to yourself. A good baby-sitter is like a hot michael kors bag on ebay with a starting bid of one dollar. Shit gets out of control fast.
5. Not having kids does not make you someone else’s favorite.
It doesn’t matter how much you watch that kid…it doesn’t matter how many baby-sitting jobs you pull. You tell yourself you are going to be the “fun” aunt and uncle and that these kids will worship the ground that you walk on. That will be fun right? All the glory without the pain? All the hugs and love without the late night cries and temper tantrums?…….Sorry. The children you care for will love you no doubt. They will like being with you and of course they will love being spoiled. But there is a bond all of us “child-free” people will never understand until we take that plunge. That bond is deeper than we think or give credit for. And one day you will be at a picnic loving life. You will have finally gotten that one day off of work, you have finally managed to connect with the friends you care about and haven’t seen in months, the weather cooperated and the sun is shining and the laughter is great and the children are playing. You will think to yourself that this day is worth it. You will play with that munchkin all day….you will play catch, hide-and-seek and you will be sore tomorrow from so much airplane…you beer will get warm and you won’t care because you are the “fun” one and you mean something to this child. You will watch their parents have a “kid-free” time and relax and enjoy the day together while you can’t find your spouse because they are being the “fun” one to some other kid….and then something happens…..the munchkin falls and hits their head, or scrapes their knee, or just gets over-tired…..and then they say it…”I want mommy”. And you will go take them to mommy who has been relaxing on the blanket and she will wrap that baby up and make whatever is wrong go away…because that’s what she’s good at. And that my friends…will sting. So if you’re holding off because you think you can get all the perks from being around so many other children…remember…some perks are just for parents.
6. Not having a baby is lonely.
I don’t mean because you don’t have someone to play with all day…I mean because of the last five truths I’ve listed…you are in a club all your own. You don’t fit with the “parents” group and the friends who are also “waiting” are as busy as you and probably have a different schedule too. Either that, or they are those exceptions…the ones that travel all the time or go to concerts and weekend get-aways that you can’t quite afford or take the time off work for. Now if you married your best friend then at least you have that. The two of you can have many nights where you stay up as late as you want and possibly sleep as long as you want. You can go to dinner and have conversation the whole time and not worry about paying a baby-sitter. You can turn the t.v. on loud and have a dance party at one in the morning and not worry about waking a sleeping baby. You can create memories of your own and build a marriage and friendship that will last the test of time. And if that’s what makes you happy…stick with it my friends because I know that in rebuttal to this list I’ve made…there are millions created that are “truths about having a kid” filled with many of the same down sides….loss of time and friends etc. So don’t take the plunge just because you will be invited to the park….no….more so just enjoy the season. There are ups and downs to everything that we do in this life. I have no doubt being a parent will be the most awesome things my hubby and I ever do. But until then…I am learning how to love being lonely. I started a blog :)….I am getting my house in order…I am working my butt off…and rescuing as many dogs as humanly possible. And when our schedules overlap…I am constantly dating my best friend. So with every season comes challenges…I have found a few in this one…but with every season there is also joy…like getting to work out with my hubby at the same time every day without a baby-sitter….and the one thing to always remember about seasons….they are always changing.