2.17.2011

well said, mama.

"all joy and no fun. why parents hate parenting"

i posted this article from the new york magazine on my facebook last week and loved the response i received from the mothers in my life. mine included...

i won't try and summarize the article for you, because i really want you to read it and tell me what you thought of it.
while i found the article very interesting, the part that stood out to me was this:
"A few generations ago, people weren’t stopping to contemplate whether having a child would make them happy. Having children was simply what you did. And we are lucky, today, to have choices about these matters. But the abundance of choices—whether to have kids, when, how many—may be one of the reasons parents are less happy."
this speaks strongly to me and has been the topic of many conversations with friends recently.
most of my best friends are single (READ:not married), in their late twenties or early thirties, without kids.
as we all reach the magic number 30, the decision to and timing of having children starts to be a subject on many of our minds.
in a conversation with a friend of mine the other day we talked about how sometimes we wished we would have just gotten married young and started having kids. 
before we had the chance to weigh the option of having them or not.
before we had a taste of total freedom in our adult lives.
before it seemed like we were giving something up to have kids.

i do not look at having a child as a burden. 
but i know that my world will change drastically. 
and, to be totally honest, it is intimidating. sometimes terrifying.
i am currently in (almost) complete and total control of my life.i make decisions based on what i think is best for me. and i (for the most part) am the only person that is effected by those decisions.

when i did a google search to find the link to the article i also found several responses to it, which i found equally interesting. 
don't forget to read the comments.
my two favorites out of the few i sifted through are "why parents hate parenting--or do they?" and this blog post.

"why parents hate parenting-or do they?"  is authored by Elisha Goldstien, a Pd.D who seems to do a lot of work in the area of mindfulness, a concept tied to Buddhism that stresses the importance of being present in the moment. his article suggests that when you are experiencing the struggles of parenting you should be aware of the memories that will be looked back on fondly later in life. 
i really think he says it best:

"Cornell Psychologist Tom Gilovich "recalls watching TV with his children at three in the morning when they were sick. "I wouldn't have said it was too fun at the time," he says. "But now I look back on it and say, 'Ah, remember the time we used to wake up and watch cartoons?' " The very things that in the moment dampen our moods can later be sources of intense gratification, nostalgia, delight.
Is there a way we can become more aware in those moments where our moods are dampened that these may actually be precious or even sacred moments in life. In other words, can we create what I call a present nostalgia? This is the ability to bring that feeling for reminiscence or longing to the moment that it is actually happening. One way of doing this is to imagine yourself many years from now laying down toward the end of life looking back to this moment. What is here now that you're not seeing?"

i love this idea of present nostalgia and often find it sneaking into my life now.
i have moments where i stop and think about what a wonderful memory i am making.
i stop and let it sink in a little deeper and enjoy the moment even more.
i think that bringing this idea to parenting is key.
dr. goldstien also uses mindfulness to relieve stress and anxiety in many other situations.
i will be trying to keep up with this guy via his blog

the blog post from the last psychiatrist is awesome. i love the language. i love the way the article is broken down. i love the way the article is called out.
if you don't like cussing, sarcasm or bluntness this one isn't for you (and to that point, why the hell are you reading my blog?)
i can't find any credentials or anything about this guy.
and that might make me love him a little more.

i think his caption under the magazine cover sums it up pretty well.


some other favorite quotes:

"When a person sees their life as a movie, that means they're the main character and everyone else is merely supporting cast.  And when one of the extras-- in this case, the kid-- goes off script, she doesn't just get upset, she has a full blown existential crisis"

" Maybe it's the rum talking, but am I the only one who read that description of the clip and thought "the mom sounds hot?"   That's the issue.   The issue is that she is a trim brunette with a bun, with glasses, with a look, whose relative perfection is being marred by the time burglar in the den.  The issue isn't the homework, the issue is her. "

"The real form of the question, the one that generates the correct answer simply in its asking,  is, "why doesn't having kids-- or getting married or getting a better job or getting laid or anything else I try to do-- make me happy?   Oh. I get it.  I'll shut up now.""

"The guy was in a relationship without any kids, and he felt neglected.  What the hell did he think was going to happen when he had kids?  Daily oral? "

in his article he touches on the concept of the mom who has it all together. this is something that i have never been disillusioned by.
i will never be the trifecta of perfection.
the perfect wife, mother, career woman.
and i promise that i will never try to be.
(the trifecta of perfection is a whole other post)

another topic the new york magazine article brings up is how much time people pour into their kids now. how people used to have children for economic reasons- to help man the farm or run the family business. and now people see their children as the ultimate project. something to be groomed, sculpted, cultivated into whatever the parent sees as the icon of success. i actually overheard four women having a conversation about how one of them should not have any other children because somestupid% of CEOs were only children.
really? awesome america.
clearly some people's priorities are effed.
(again, a whole other post.)

so where does all of this leave me?
well, besides having two new blogs to follow, it leaves me feeling good.
hopeful even.
confident in my decision to have children.
to enjoy having children.
to be present in the moment. to enjoy them for what they are.
they are not a job. they are not a career.  they are not something that i can completely control the outcome of. they are not a direct reflection of my person.
they will be their own people. they will have their own successes and their own failures.
and i will be lucky to get to be a part of it all.


 where does it leave you?




as a side note....it feels great to not just be reading, but comprehending, researching and thinking.




5 comments:

jill said...

Exactly... Well put to you as well. I think this might be one of your best Blogs. Or I just really appreciated it...as I am someone who is 31 and childless :)

Bryan Meadows said...

This article leaves me firm in my decision not to have kids. This is a subject that I have thought about quite a bit including the points brought up in the articles and I can see where the idea that people are more unhappy with kids comes from. From what I've seen, part of the problem is the people who do just jump into having kids and getting married straight out of high school or in their early 20's. Many of these people haven't taken the time to figure out who they are as people and what they want out of life and only realize that after they have kids and don't have time/energy to work on themselves. It's like the articles said, they make their kids or their spouses their entire life and when when the shit hits the fan and things don't go according to plan they freak out and get depressed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who don't like kids, I do and people tell me I'm great with kids. I know that I might be as happy with kids as without, but that isn't a chance I'm willing to take for my sake or the child's. I like my freedom too much. I like the fact that, like you said, my decisions pretty much only impact me. I fully respect people who have kids and put in all of the work it takes, but I just don't want kids for myself.

Dahnks said...

Beautiful post. Love.. and thank you.. I needed that.

Kat Curtis said...

It leaves me with three kids! HAHA!! I think you're great Terra. I'm glad I got married and started having kids young because that is my reality and I am happy with it - I didn't have to decide in my 30s whether I wanted to really have kids or not. I hadn't thought of that before.

Kids are a lot of fun. And a lot of work. And it took me some time to get used to having my focus be on them, but I wouldn't change it at all. I can't imagine not having any of them, and I think it would be so lonely in 30 years with no kids, no grandkids, whatever. It's a sacrifice of some "freedom", but the return is so much greater - at least for me. It's nice to have people to laugh at (and with).

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...it left me wanting to move to New York so that I can be surrounded by people who are childless by choice and won't constantly make me justify/question my lack of desire to have kids!

Unfortunately, I do worry that I might regret my decision, but I have tried and tried and just can't think of anything about kids that I like. Every once in a while, I think "oh, it would be fun to read to a kid, teach them this or that..." and then I do those things with a kid and realize that reading to a kid for some reason makes me want to go slam my head against a wall after 5 minutes. I just cannot make myself enjoy them or, frankly, have any positive feelings about them, and the only times I start thinking that I might want to have kids, I realize that it's for a very selfish reason - i.e., to prove to myself that surely, if everyone else can do it, I can have a demanding career and kids too.

Unfortunately, I don't think I could. If I don't get sleep or "me time" to paint, read, etc. (without even my husband, whom I dearly love, bothering me), I turn into a cranky monster after a week or so. I adore animals, but I don't even want a dog because it's too expensive and annoying. I even kind of wish that we hadn't adopted a second cat, and I can't really make myself love him like I love the first (quieter, less needy) one.

And what if it turns out that you don't like your kids? You're totally stuck until they leave, they may suck at being independent and still rely on you (emotionally or financially) for even longer, and then they might expect you to help take care of THEIR kids. Frankly, being a grandparent sounds to me almost as bad as being a parent - when the hell do you actually get to have some peace and quiet? Maybe once you're on your deathbed?

Sorry for the long comment. I just keep going around and around in my head worrying that I'll regret not having kids, but every fiber of my being instinctively reacts to the idea as a horrible experience of drudgery, resentment, exhaustion, and, ironically, regret. I'm glad you've discovered that you can resolve your own conflict and be at peace with your decision.