Monday, June 3, 2013

How Life Changes After Having a Kid (or at least how I felt about it two years ago)

The following is from a conversation I had online 2 years ago or so. I found it saved as a blog draft in a folder on my computer, and I remembered how I had planned on posting this here as a post about children from the point of view of someone who did not want one and did not experience a life changing shift in my viewpoint after having done so. I thought it interesting to read my thoughts at the time and compare my situation then to my situation now and I thought I would post it here given the recent post I made here about having children (if you have not read that I suggest reading it before reading this). 

Online friend speaking to a group of us online: "You guys are in your late 20's? I feel so young :( I'm only 21."

Me: "I'll be 30 in November :(

However, as depressing as that fact may be to me (very much so), much of the time I feel about your age. "Young at heart," as they say. Speaking of which, let me make a suggestion to you (any of you, really): If you plan on getting married, and/or having a kid (or kids), delay as much as possible. Get your shit together (career, finances, etc) but, more importantly, enjoy the everloving FUCK out of your twenties.

See, I got married midway through them, and I had a kid at 27. Now, don't get me wrong, I love the hell out of my daughter. Hannah is a delight (much of the time.....she's also a huge pain in the ass, as they all are at two years old) and the love you feel for your offspring truly is unlike any love you have ever felt. I know it's just a biological trick of sorts, an insurance policy to maintain the survival of both my DNA and the species, but MAN does it manifest as a terribly strong, deep, and powerful feeling. Just her laugh is enough to make my heart both blossom and ache. It's really fucked up, actually. I love watching her develop, and grow, and the way she processes the world around her, and then displays new knowledge and understanding everyday, is really something to behold.

However, that all being said, I did NOT want a kid. Never did. My wife (note from the future (aka two years after this was originally written): she is now my ex-wife) fluctuated between wanting them and not. Well, it was decided for us when we stupidly stopped using all birth control, and continued doing this for a year. We felt fairly certain, for various reasons, that she was infertile.....and a year later we found out that she was not. Suddenly, I was going to be a father, and the idea terrified me. And man was that shit hard. Still is, but those first few months were absolutely awful. She had colic, which means months of screaming and crying, for hours a day, all hours of the day. It was so bad at times that I felt as though I was going to snap and do something terrible. I actually had to leave the house one night (went for a long walk) because I felt my sanity start to slip (slight exaggeration but the emotion/frustration was intense).

My life changed so suddenly, and all of a sudden my free time was gone. Everything was about the baby. Sleep, something I always took for granted, was diminished. Video games were relegated to a few measly hours a week. My wife and I were stressed out. Sex went bye bye. Our marriage took a backseat to the baby (as did our free time).

I'll never forget the time that the fact that my life had irrevocably changed set in: The first night in the hospital, after a looooooong day, during which my wife had to endure 18 or so hours of labour, we finally got to lie down. I got as comfortable as I could, given the fact that I was on a lumpy hospital recliner (they were short on beds), and literally seconds after finding an okay position and closing my eyes, ready to finally get to sleep after a terribly exhausting day, Hannah started to cry, and that's when it hit me: Holy Shit. You can't even fucking sleep when you want to. That baby is crying, and we have to get up to take care of it. And will continue to have to do so for the next several months (if not longer).

What. The. Fuck. Did. We. Do.?

Dude, that was the most depressing moment of my life. My heart sank into my feet, and I could have cried and screamed at the same time. I will never forget that feeling; even now, recollecting it over 2 years later I can feel the emotion. It's obviously greatly diminished but it is till there. (Second note from the future: It's now been over 4 years and I can still get a sense of what it felt like).

The next several months were absolutely brutal. I didn't even bond with Hannah until the 5th or 6th month. In all honesty, I resented the shit out of her. I mean, sleep, sex, video games, going for walks with my wife and our dogs, going out for dinner, going to the movies, quiet, relaxation, all of it....gone. Or greatly diminished. Bad for anyone, but downright terrible when you didn't even want it in the first place. Of course, I had no one to blame but myself.

Eventually, things did start to improve although life can still be incredibly challenging (and expensive, hello $500 a month daycare for 4 days a week while we're at work) at times (naps and meals can be really damn tough when the terrible twos start to manifest). Toddlers, while they don't need to be watched as closely as a newborn, still need constant attention, which means that while they are awake, you are still basically tethered to them. So, your free time is still laughably little. It's basically now when the kid is asleep or at her grandparents. The irony of course being that by then, you are often too tired to even attempt to do anything (and if you aren't, your wife likely is).

You know when you come home from work, or school, or wherever, and you can sit down in front of the Xbox and play that sweet new game for 8 hours straight, or go to the gym, or watch 2 movies in a row without interruption  Ya, well, if you have kids kiss that goodbye! You have to stick around your kid, keeping an eye on them as well as keeping them busy and entertained (and also fed and changed).

However, at 2 years old, this isn't all bad. There's actually a lot of fun to be had hanging out with your kid. You get to play games, teach them stuff, wrestle around, introduce them to kids shows, and movies, take them for walks, watch them play with the dogs, etc. Sometimes I absolutely LOVE hanging out with her. Total blast, and as I said earlier, watching her develop, and grow, and hearing her put new words together to form new's awesome. It's just that sometimes you really want a break and quite often there's not one in sight.

Now, mind you, everyone's experience is different. Some people will read this and be is wrong with that guy? My kid(s) is/are the most wonderful thing(s) in the world, and I could not imagine myself doing anything else. He just sounds selfish (which I am) and the fact that he didn't want kids is colouring his experience (likely to be true, obviously). Not everyone will have a kid with colic. Not all two year olds will go through the 'terrible twos (most do though, apparently). I recognize all of this, but that doesn't make my experience any less real, and yours, or anyone else's, could be the same, even if the parents in question wanted kids. Imagine how much harder it must be for them. I got what I expected. Those people must just get blindsided.

That's the kicker. Some people want kids, and they want to get married, and then when they have both the marriage and the kid(s) they wish they had stayed single and childless. Marriage really changes things, and then having a kid really changes them. And unlike the decision to marry, the kid one cannot be undone, so it's NOT a decision that should be made lightly. Unfortunately, all of the deliberation in the world will not guarantee that you'll be happy afterwards, and this is why I recommend delaying, even if you really, really want the whole family thing. You can never get your twenties back, so enjoy them as best you can. Really appreciate the possibilities man, because let me tell you, once you go domestic, it's like those possibilities disappear. Which they do, really.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy your twenties man, and if you want to do the whole marriage/kids thing, I hope it works out for you. Even not wanting a kid, it's still often amazingly rewarding, fun, and exciting, so I can imagine it being really amazing when you truly want it. As it stands, it was TERRIBLE at first, but is now a mixture of fantastic and very hard/stressful at times. My wife and I both agree that we're going to do the best we can, and try and make life for Hannah as great, rewarding, stimulating, educational and fun as we can make it, but we are absolutely never having another kid!

I love Hannah to death, and my wife and I are still pretty good, despite the changes brought on by a kid (luckily we've always gotten along well, and have great, open lines of communication) (third note from the future: we all know how THAT turned out hahaha, although we are still on great terms and still communicate very well) but man I envy you young, single, childless people.....I also envy married couples, or cohabitating couples, who don't have kids, either because they don't want them or just haven't done so yet. I think back to the days when Amanda and I could do whatever we wanted, go wherever we wanted.....I mean, fuck, we can't even leave the house after dinner and go for a nice walk together in the warm sunshine (if it's not the shitty winter of course) without having to consider the kid. Having a kid changes things so tremendously."

Last note from the future: At least I no longer need to envy the single people ;) And for those who may be wondering, my experiences with now being single and my daughter being four are quite different than my experiences relayed above. The challenges are in many ways lessened, and the joys more pronounced, but challenges are still a healthy part of the equation. I love my daughter tremendously and despite the challenges, it's genuinely awesome to be around her (most of the time) but I will never  be one to deny my feelings or sugarcoat things. I never wanted kids and if I could snap my fingers and change the past I can't say for certain I wouldn't rewrite history and grant myself a childless future (I'm not saying I would for certain change it but believe me when I say there would be some deep contemplation on my part). I know how that may sound to many/most but I am just being honest. And frankly, I guarantee a lot more people out there than I feel this way but are too embarrassed/ashamed to admit it to others, or even themselves. Societal pressure/reinforcement of the joyful life of a parent is constant and domineering. 


  1. And that's why I don't want kids. I'm great with kids. I enjoy being around them and could probably be a teacher. I babysit quite a bit. The key to all of that is that at the end of the day I can do whatever I like.

    And if you're wondering Danika doesn't want kids either so huge plus there

  2. They should rent kids to people so they can gauge their true propensity to be a parent. I'm only half kidding, btw.

  3. My sister having kids made me sure I didn't want them. When she has her first kid I called him Birth Control. I wanted no part of babies after him lol.


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