Sunday, July 11, 2010

But, I like being a parent!

Back to Bloggin'

  I recently read an article in New York Magazine, All Work And No Fun, that thoroughly depressed me.
  The writer gives a detailed description of how parenthood will destroy your life and turn you into a miserable, resentful ogre.
It is laced with sad and depressing pictures of the author's home life with her husband and newborn twins.
  I looked at the photos and read the entire article hoping to find a light at the end of the tunnel. None to be found. They are tired, and argumentative, and have no time for themselves.

  OK, so newborns are a lot of work, and trying to maintain a relationship with your co-parent is a work in progress. But, these are parents who are employed, living in a nice home, with plenty of food in their kitchen. They have entered into a new world and it takes a long time to make that adjustment.
  To complain, and then back up with statistics, their misery and terrible lot in life because they decided to have children, is the saddest self portrait I have seen to date. I wonder if they thought about how this story is a permanent reflection that their children will have access to and undoubtedly read someday.

  How can someone be so out of touch with reality? New York is not Uganda. These children are healthy. The mother survived the birth. The mother and father are employed and are not starving to death. They do not have to carry water on their heads for miles each day just to boil their rice for their one meal of the day. Their children have access to free education.

  So, the parents are sleep deprived.... Yup, been there.
  Arguing? Been there.
  No time for yourself.... Doesn't exist.
Those are topics you get to discuss when you meet your girlfriends for drinks someday in the near future. It's universal and all parents have been through it. For thousands of years, parents have gone through these newborn side effects and survived.

  What this author did not mention is how quickly the time flies. Little by little you do get your life back. Your children are now an integral part of your life and you have the luxury of being front row, center, while watching these new humans develop into people. They are different from anyone else in the world, have unique personalities and can make you laugh and cry.
  My oldest daughter and I now take walks after work. We are very close. When she was little, I had no idea we would have the kind of relationship we have today. My youngest is one of the funniest kids I have ever seen. He makes all of us laugh so hard that we are in tears. Each child has his or her own interesting quirks that make our family so interesting and fun. One likes to write and tell stories. One plays music beautifully. One a very talented artist and another likes to imitate Michael Jackson. My husband does cartwheels with them on the lawn. Sometimes our home life is better than any vacation we could take.

  Maybe this author will know how blessed she is someday.


  1. You are entitled to your opinion, but I think you missed the author's point.
    This woman is in a completely different stage of life than you seem to be at based upon what you wrote. She is simply telling it how it is, having young twins who are 100% dependent on both parents and thus leaving them with no time to themselves sucks. A sick baby at 2 am sucks when they dont stop screaming for an hour and you realize in about 2 hours you have to be up for work. Those are all circumstances that Im sure 95% of parents dont enjoy, and reflect that by reporting lesser levels of happiness compared to their childless days but that does not mean the author is not or will not be satisfied.
    First, no where in the article (even with all the less than fun times she describes) does she ever say she hates her life or regrets the decision. She uses stats / history (imo) to show that what she and others are going through is not unique and that people should not be so hard on themselves. On average everyone is spending more and more time with their kids than they were during our grandparents generation.
    Second, the idea of what is important and the support for family structure versus making a dollar has changed drastically. Whether you are a man, woman, mother, father, single or married the business world does not seem to really care about familial well being. So you work long and hard for someone / some entity that could ultimately care less about your kids / spouse / family life and come home to a situation in which you think you aren't doing a good enough job (even if you are super mom and super dad). Its understandable why people get angry and depressed.
    What this author did not mention is how quickly the time flies. Little by little you do get your life back. Your children are now an integral part of your life and you have the luxury of being front row, center, while watching these new humans develop into people. They are different from anyone else in the world, have unique personalities and can make you laugh and cry.
    She kind of did toward the end of the paper. I think personally she cant relate to this, her kids are still very young. But the researchers she interviews and quotes even admit that they try as best they can to quantify the long term, overall happiness that can get drowned out by the screaming and arguing about homework.
    So again from my point of view (I have no kid, not married, male, but not opposed to either one) she didnt make a case for having children turns you into an ogre. She told it how it is from her perspective and showed that with statistics that she and others are not alone. Some of the reasons why it happens and that the so called light at the end of the tunnel is hard to measure on a spreadsheet and has to come from within.

    Ultimately we need stories like hers and yours along with studies here and there because while parenting should be simple, it no longer is. We live in a society where education is free, mothers survive more often than not and water comes from a tap, but we still have problems coming to terms with many aspects of our lives. At the very least all of this gets us thinking and talking about what is going on, so that hopefully we don't fall into some of the traps others have.

    Thank you for response to the article, it is good to see different perspectives on issues such as these.

  2. When you are ready, kids are FANTASTIC at every stage. Yes it is hard at times, but parents could make their lives easier by NOT LIVING IN NEW YORK. I love the city, but it is expensive and hard to take on a budget. There are thousands of great places to live and work and ENJOY your kids OTHER than New York. Also, they do grow up crazy fast. Every stage was fun in some way but they also all were hard. SO WHAT - that's life. Anything worthwhile is hard. Embrace the wonder and enjoy the ride, because it does not last very long. One day you wake up and you are old and your kids are gone. It is life and it is sad but wonderful. Enjoy every minute while you can. W.C.C.

  3. Thanks for your comments...

    I have 5 kids and love it. The shock of the change in your life with your first baby is huge. There is nothing to compare it to in your pre baby life. But you get used to all of it. The sick child in the middle of the night does not stop when your baby grows up. Sometimes all 7 of us are sick at the same time... And yes, that is a nightmare. You do get used to the chaos of it all and at a certain point you have to laugh. The scene in Parenthood when Steve Martin's daughter projectile vomits in his face pretty much says it all. That scene made me laugh so hard because we've all been there, usually in a sleep deprived stupor.
    I agree with you about choosing to raise a family in a cheaper/easier location than NY. We are raising a family of 5 kids in the LA area and it is very difficult. It is wonderful to be exposed to so much culture, but the financial cost is tremendous! Not the easiest road to take, but my husband and I do love our jobs. It works somehow.
    Thanks again for the comments!

  4. The main reason I have no kids to date is that my family was always tired, cranky, poor and miserable, and it was because my parents were in over their heads trying to support 5 kids on salaries that did not stretch enough, even in our small town, to make that existance sustainable. I always told myself that, unless I have a partner who is completely ready for the financial burdons of modern family life (wherein the kids are expensive non-earning entities, as opposed to the traditional model where the kids help bring money INTO the household), I cannot put a kid thru what I barely survived. I knew families like yours - happy mom, happy dad, clean kids, orderly home, not without challenges but supportive of one another, and I wondered what was different about them - I think money is a bigger part of it than anyone is willing to admit. If you are struggling financially, everything else in life suffers.

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  8. That does sound like a sad article. My husband and I are blessed with two amazing generous children, 16 and 20 years old. They have been a blessing since the day they were born, too bad there aren't more stories like your and mine! I think it's a matter of perspective too . . .
    great blog you have here,