Saturday, November 8, 2014
"Oh, I know that," you say.
Do you? Do you really know that?
Imagine being woken up at 6:20am by a fully energized kid ready to start the day off with a wrestling match, or a walk to the park when all you want to do is sleep (but you cannot) so you get up and you start the day. By 1pm you've already made breakfast for two, wrestled, done artwork, watched a kids tv show or two, played outside, cleaned 3 messes, made lunch for two, been asked 1000 questions and pulled in 1000 different directions and have had zero time to yourself. By 1pm you're already halfway to being wiped out but she's not going to be in bed until 8pm and her energy is endless.....btw, if you want to go to the grocery store, good luck. It will take 4 times as long as it would without a kid, unless you make them ride in the cart (and even then they will still find ways to annoy-try to escape, try to grab things off the shelf, ask for everything they see, etc.).
And this is when they are a bit more self sufficient. Take this and add crying/screaming/tantrums for toddlers. Now does doing that over and over sound like something you would want to subject yourself to? It's really not all that fun, at least quite often. It's mostly just tiring, draining work and internally you're just wishing for some time alone. I can see why a lot of parents retreat into their phones, although I HATE that they do it, because it hurts the kids.
Parenting makes you an entertainer, a cleaner, a cook, a boss, a role model, etc.
Those moments that everyone talks about, those "OMG AMAZING MOMENTS" like the "I love you's" and the kisses on the cheek, they are just that-moments. Moments surrounded by hours of work. Everyone points to these moments but neglects to mention the day to day drudgery.
A drug analogy really holds well here. In fact (and this is where I lose people) I believe the 'love' we feel for our children is, as is romantic love, just a chemically induced state (oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin) which we evolved to feel in order to keep us from either abandoning or killing the little buggers. Just think about it: How successful would we have been as a species if we DIDN'T feel that love feeling for the screaming little buggers? And so if this is true, the "love" that we all speak of to justify being a parent (seriously, other dads I talk to agree about what it's like but then invariably go to the "ya, but I love him/her/them and when they give you that random hug it's all worth it!") is actually the 'trick' if you will, that nature plays on us to keep us committed to the kids. We romanticize the shit out of what I believe to simply be an evolved trick of sorts.
Now, that all being said, as they age things change and it can become less one sided and more of a real friendship/relationship rather than just a worker/recipient situation. My daughter is now 5 and she is truly a kindhearted, intelligent, funny and fun kid and the feeling of things being "work" is much less frequent (and intense) as it used to be. Chunks of the day really have become less like work and more just hanging out and having an honestly good time. For example, we'll go on nature walks along the water or in a nearby forest and during times like that it's all exploration, inquisitiveness, appreciation and bonding between the two of us. She is getting much better behaved and so even going to the store has become less stressful (some days, some days I still want to kill her) and as long as you mediate your feelings, have an open heart, treat them well, etc you can have a good time.
But even then it's still a LOT of work and a total drain on your once free time, so potential parents should THINK HARD about the day to day realities rather than just the "aawww moments." Those "aww moments" are a high and the rest of the day is spent doing the drudgery no one really talks about when you mention wanting kids.