A Baby? Am I Insane?!

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Wow, so apparently RSS feeds pick up on password-protected posts! I’ve had a few alarmed, curious and amused emails and comments from people who have me set up on RSS and saw the title of this post, but no text. Betrayed by WordPress! The title, however, basically says it all.

I hadn’t planned to make this public just yet, but it’s one of the Items of Import I mentioned a couple of posts ago. It’s still all just me freaking out and being crazy and worrying about OMG EVERYTHING and deep psychological stuffs – and most of you just want the fabric porn and quilting stories. Thus, be warned ahead of time; this is a glimpse into dark areas of my psyche and is whiny and awful. It is also LOOOOOONG. Over 6000 words.

I will not be crushed if you don’t read it. I promise, especially if you’re just linking in from Judy’s Design Wall Monday group, and were after the sewing bee post (two below) or the toothpaste story (one down – you just have to spend 35 years scrolling past this one.)

This post has a lot of italics, because when I think of this subject, my mind is very emphatic about a lot of things. Having a child, or children, is perhaps the biggest decision one can make. The post is in the order I thought of things, largely unedited and unretouched.  Disjointed and somewhat crazy, much like the girl who wrote it.

Apart from a very brief spate in my teens, I’ve never been a woman who wanted children. I haven’t even liked children much. This has astonished many, many people over the years, some of whom regarded me with great criticism, as if I were not only a failure as a woman, but a failure as a human. Who doesn’t want to procreate? Who doesn’t want to pass on her genetic material and life experiences and values to another person? Well, me.

As I’m coming to realize more and more, my aversion to having children is probably centered largely around resentment toward my own mother and how she raised me. I wouldn’t want to pass on these behaviors and patterns to anyone else. Not liking babies or children may just have been the way I naturally was, or it could have been one of the many deep, psychological issues my mother engendered so well. As I sort through and untangle my thoughts and feelings about my mom, the thought of having my own child or children becomes less insane-feeling.

Another good portion of my “child-free by choice” personal lifestyle is due to overpopulation; there are simply too many of us, and I didn’t want to contribute to that problem. This could be mitigated by adoption, and that’s something I’m certainly willing to consider. There’s a little bit of a selfish me emerging though, that’s resentful – “why should I have to make sacrifices because other people refuse to?” Well, because that’s how we start getting things back on track – by some of us making sacrifices, like being vegetarian, like not having children, like riding bikes to work instead of driving, like buying organic from local sources instead of stuff from WalMart. Some people must do the right thing, and I feel the weight of that burden.

Even with overpopulation aside, though, the other core reasons, those I have clung to, still lurk.

I wanted to live my life, however selfish that is. One can’t run off to India on a moment’s notice with a child. Not that I ever have, mind you, but the possibility was there. Had I the money, I would’ve traveled the world by now – but I haven’t, and that’s ok. Maybe someday our family can travel the world together. Instead of doing things by myself, I can share them with (gasp) other people.

Speaking of financials, there’s another aspect that’s truly daunting; having a child is expensive. It’s signing up for a lifetime of expenses – medical care, clothing, food, entertainment, incidentals, college, concerts, movies, toys, gaming consoles…omg. Some of this, mind you, would be cut down by what I feel would be more my parenting style – more natural toys, less plastic ones; more quality, less excess; more experiences, less stuff. I don’t want my child (or myself) to be subjected to roomsful of bright, flashing, noisy, mass-manufactured objects. I think the level of commercialism is overwhelming and unnecessary. Toys made out of natural materials as much as possible are more appealing – fabric, wood, metal, et cetera – and I think help to provide a child with a more grounded view of the world, puts him or her more in touch with nature and the world.

Having more toys than one knows what to do with doesn’t help anyone, and so much money gets poured into them. I know this from experience – Christmas at our house was absolutely insane. I loved it at the time, naturally – how could a young girl not love getting pretty much everything she asked for? It did not help prepare me for the world, though, and it left a lot of toys unplayed with. Sometimes, I felt stress about the toys that didn’t get played with, like it was unfair to them.

Usually, I played with my favorites and the rest often sat unused. My stuffed animals were the one exception. Every night, I slept under a mountain of stuffed animals, and I loved every one of the 52 of them. They all had names and stories and relationships with each other and I played with them a lot. Playing with the stuffed animals was so rewarding and fostered a lot of creativity.

Too, there is the figuring out of the child’s learning style, play preferences and what he or she naturally loves to do. My parents bought me a series of books called The Anti-Coloring Book, or something along those lines. It’s a great idea, designed to let childrens’ minds think literally outside the lines, but I am not an artistic person, and I got stressed out by how terrible my drawings were.  Those books really, really didn’t work for me, but they’re still a fabulous idea.

My parents provided me with endless books – that was something they did really well. I went through those books with a will, even read the dictionary from time to time. They bought me science books that were tailored to kids and those were great. I spent hours and hours poring over  Jacques Cousteau photo books and nature books and story books and holy cow, why did I ever stop reading? Oh, right – the internet was invented.

But back to the thought process a few paragraphs back – cutting down on artificial, basically useless plastic crap.  I understand very much the urge to give one’s child everything he or she wants – this is how crazed parents end up at Toys-R-Us at all hours of the day and night, frantically running up and down aisles looking for That Year’s Tickle Me Elmo toy, desperate and wild-eyed. I don’t want anything to do with that – it’s absurd.

Mike and I can control what we buy; how, though, to cut down on grandparents, family and friends buying the stuff I wouldn’t necessarily want, though? So many questions. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t allow any plastic or trendy stuffs, but we would ideally keep it to a minimum. I believe there is such a thing as too many toys, and that it can overstimulate a child.

There would be no mountains of antibacterial ANYTHING. I played in the dirt and ate gravel as a toddler, and my immune system is pretty stinking good. I want my children to know what it’s like to climb a tree, run through underbrush, have pets, muck out a stall, ride a horse, fly in a small airplane, jump on a trampoline and any manner of other things that could be potentially dangerous. Maybe I’ll feel different when I’m actually watching a child of mine balancing tenuously on a tree limb 30 feet off the ground, but I hope not. I don’t want to be the overly-protective mother, never letting her children get even slightly in harm’s way without having a complete fit.

I don’t want to be the mom who tries to control every single aspect of her child’s life, even when that child can begin making some decisions on his or her own. I don’t want to be my mother, who continued to pick out my clothes and dress me in ridiculous outfits all the way through high school.

I want to be the mom that helps my child’s own personality grow and flourish, who encourages exploration and adventure. I think Mike would be great with this – letting kids be their own people, guiding as needed, still being protective when it was warranted. I think he’d really enjoy many aspects of fatherhood. Sharing those experiences with him would be pretty outstanding. We’d have to hammer out a lot of stuff… where each of us stands on things, how we want to plan things out, what we expect of each other… and then watch some of those plans come crumbling down as things change unexpectedly.

Mike is awesome at letting things roll off his back without getting to him too much, whereas I’m more prone to stress. I am much more impulsive, he is much more circumspect. We balance each other out well, and I think that would benefit our kids.

But the sheer volume of Insanely Important Decisions is staggering.

Vaccinations – where do I stand? I have no idea. The idea of a perfectly normal child suddenly becoming autistic with the administration of a vaccine is terrifying, but so is losing a child to something that could possibly be avoided quite simply. There’s a lot of research to read up on here.

And what about being older with an increased chance of genetic abnormalities and miscarriages and health complications and diabetes and placental abruptions?

And what about my restless leg syndrome and its associated drugs?

And what if I decide to become a Buddhist nun?

And what about EVERYTHING!?

What about the sacrifices?

Maybe I want a motorcycle, or a new car. Maybe I get orthodontics for my kid, instead. I think, as I grow older, these things become more ok. There would have to be a lot of cutting back on excesses, and reorganizing our priorities. We can do that. However, our income would probably be reduced for reasons we’ll discuss later on.

What are some advantages of more maturity?

As difficult as it may be to believe, I actually have become significantly more compassionate, patient and mature in the last 10 years. Having seen and done as much as I have, I think this has prepared me for raising another human being in a more balanced, less crazed, manner. I have more lessons to teach, more balance to respond with. We have our own house, we have a solid foundation. I’m more prepared to deal with the world myself, and guide a little person through it, far more than I was 10 years ago.

What about adoption?

I like the idea of adoption very much, but I also recognize some of its disadvantages. Going through the pregnancy and nursing, if possible, would help form such a strong bond to the baby. Adoption would bypass all of that (all of the misery, too, but still,) and while I know adoptive parents fall every bit in love with their children as birth parents, I can’t help but wonder what it would be like to look at my baby and see Mike and myself. If having our own isn’t an option, this is something I would readily consider.

What about my shitty genes?

My Grandma Darling had Restless Leg Syndrome, my dad has it, and I have it. Chances are, any offspring of mine would have it, too, and it’s not something I would ever, ever wish on anyone. It’s also not something I may be able to endure during a pregnancy, as I suspect the meds I take to keep it at bay are probably not compatible with healthy unborn babies. So, nine months of some very unpleasant symptoms, the kind which are hard to endure for nine hours. There would be a lot of sleepless, walking around the house moaning, nights. Nine months, plus nursing. That’s intimidating and makes my skin crawl a bit.

My dad’s side of the family also has a history of ridiculous cholesterol and triglycerides, but I don’t think there was any major heart disease there. My mom’s mom died of a massive, sudden heart attack, but she was a smoker most of her life and she was in her seventies when she passed.

Apart from those issues, my genes are actually pretty good. The Darling side of the family is very long-lived, Mom’s side a bit less so. The cancer in both sides was from heavy smoking. My dad has very nasty arthritis, but I haven’t started developing it yet myself.

My main, main concern is the RLS – that a bitch to think about passing on.

What about food?

I wouldn’t raise a vegetarian child; there’s too much growth and development going on in the brain to try and make sure I’m getting the right sequence of complete nutrients. The food one ingests to sustain one’s body should be a personal choice, made by an informed mind. A young child can’t speak for him- or herself. I would, however, make sure to get the locally-grown, artificial-hormone-free stuff that was pastured and had a decent life. I’d make sure vegetables had a prominent place. “Healthy” would not be a bad word, “Twinkie” might be. Until I went to school, I would choose fruit over candy and juice over pop. That changed so fast after I got into public schools.

During the pregnancy, I understand it’s possible (through careful food choices) to get enough nutrients for the baby to develop – but I’m not sure that’s something I’d want to risk. I may become a temporary carnivore (which is unrelated to my previous post about having A Vegetarian Crisis currently. Writing that post actually put the issue mostly to bed, thankfully,) but a responsible one.

Would it be cruel and unusual punishment to keep a child from eating McDonald’s? I don’t think so, although I suspect there would be whining, and then, when the critter is old enough, sneaking. But one can only do so much.

And, holy shit, what about food allergies?! So many people are developing food allergies or intolerances, it seems out of control. Why is it happening? What can I do to prevent them?

What’s changed?

Why am I suddenly pretty open to this idea in the last few months? A lot of it is feeling secure and stable in my relationship with Mike, having a house, having some financial stability. Some of it is being exposed to more positive role models, even if it’s just through blogs and friends of friends or family. Some of it is now being a little beyond the selfishness of wanting to experience everything I possibly could without any fetters. Some of it is wanting to pass on the values I hold dear, trying to make the world, in my view, a better place. Some of it is wanting to be close to Mike in that new, exciting way. Some of it is knowing we’d make a great parenting team, if I can get myself out of my mom’s head.

My view of parenting was soured by my mother, and given how I sometimes revert back to her patterns (even when I really don’t want to,) I do not want to engender another generation of Crazy Marshall Women. I could easily see myself turning into Mom in Very Bad Ways. On the one hand, Mike would be there to help even my keel out, but on the other… man, there is often no taming that crazy streak in my mom. She used shame and disapproval as her go-to weapons, with Playing the Histrionic Victim a close runner-up. Would I be the same? That would be a fate just about worse than death, watching myself to that to another person and being unable to control it.

I would also have the opportunity to do the things my mom didn’t do, and also to repeat the good things she did do. Mom was great at teaching me how to read and write when I was ridiculously young, she taught me the Greek alphabet at the age of three (which I have since mostly forgotten,) she made sure I knew I was loved and treasured and precious. Mom loved having a baby and a little girl. But I don’t think she was equipped to handle a teenager or an adult daughter. I might be able to get around that. I could also make sure to teach my child how to deal with adversity, rather than sheltering him or her from it obsessively. I could teach my child how to do really nifty things, how to do good in the world, how to volunteer and help others.

How many?

Being an only child has its benefits during childhood, but it has detriments, as well, that last beyond childhood and into Real Life. I believe having a sibling is an important aspect of learning how to interact with people. As an only child, I had the benefits of being the sole focal point of my parents’ attention; I also had the disadvantage of being the sole focal point of my parents’ attention. I always wanted an older brother.

I am much fussier about being around other people, I believe as a result of having everything to myself until I went to college. Interacting with other people can be stressful and exhausting; I like to keep to myself. I have an overly-developed sense of OMG I MUST SAVE THE WORLD ALL BY MYSELF BECAUSE I HAVE NO TEAM. Siblings so often seem to have a team.

Twins run in my mom’s family, and it would theoretically be “my turn.” That would be kind of cool, really, but also very much a double-whammy.

But then, I’d be contributing more to the overpopulation problem. I was previously very comfortable letting the Marshall family tree die off with me. Having one child would still leave one space unfilled when Mike and I die – having two wouldn’t. Having one and then adopting another might lead to resentments from the adoptive child.

How Much Time Do I Have to Decide?

That’s difficult to tell, without expensive fertility tests. I could have dozens of healthy eggs left, or I could have 2. Also, regardless of age, there is always adoption. Either way, it’s nothing to rush into. I can keep thinking and start planning now, without doing anything undoable. I can start getting into better shape, eating the right foods, making sure this isn’t some Crazy Phase. It’s been lurking around the edges for a couple of months, and it’s getting stronger as time passes. I’ve always been a late bloomer, in terms of Doing the Things Normal People Do, because I’ve always been busy Doing the Things Normal People Don’t Do.

There’s a deep and abiding feeling that Mike and I will last, because he’s so good at putting up with my crazy. Stuff that might drive a lesser man out the door doesn’t seem to get to him – or at least he doesn’t let on. Note to Mike – LET ON IF IT’S DRIVING YOU CRAZY! :P

What’s involved in the planning?

First and foremost, make sure Mike and I are both in a stable place, where a child or children are wanted. Nothing is ever guaranteed, of course, but if we can start from a good foundation, with plans and goals and a basic idea of what we want to do, that can only be a good thing.

Stop taking my birth control pills. Apparently, it can take awhile to get pregnant after having been on them. Since having been on them, I haven’t been wild about the person I am, so stopping these was likely on the agenda anyhow. Easy-peasy. [And as of Sunday night, I've stopped them. I feel relieved already. I'm not wild about the idea of having periods again, but maybe I'll drop some of the 10-15 pounds I've gained in the last 5 months whilst on them, and regain my emotional balance.]

I need to get into better physical shape. Lose some of this ridiculous weight, get my cardiovascular system back on track. Do some yoga for flexibility. Get my musculature ready for the strain of the next ten or so years. Pregnancy is hard enough on a body without all of the associated issues of being overweight and under-conditioned. Next to smoking, being obese is the worst thing one can do to one’s body – no kidding.

Stop drinking diet soda. Opt for water (ugh) tea (oh, alright) or juice (yay, but pricey and full of sugar.)

The plus side is, all of the stuff I would need to do to get ready for this is stuff I need to do anyhow. Win-win.

It’s not like having a dog.

I’ve had many a flip response to queries about not wanting children. “Well, you can’t give a child a bone and put them in the backyard for a few hours.” I can get the devoted love and adoration from my dogs, right? Sort of.

Dogs aren’t around for the rest of my life, either. Dogs are with us for all-too-brief periods, and they’re less demanding than children. This would be My Life for the rest of it. I don’t know how wild I am about that idea. I know my perspective would shift, radically, once I held said baby in my arms, and, being 39, I don’t have the “what ifs” that might plague younger parents; “What if I’d traveled Europe instead,” “what if I would have been a brilliant physicist?” and so forth. I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll amount to in this world.

The Terrors of the Public School System

Two words I am developing a very strong passion for: Home. Schooling. It would be a lot of work, a lot of constant work, but I am aghast at our public schools. I think the only thing home schooling would deprive children of is the social interaction of their peers, and that can be addressed in other ways. Between abuse from teachers and peers, epically awful exam scores, truly appalling grasps of spelling, history and science, our students are not coming out of basic schools with much more than contagious diseases and too much appreciation for TV shows and fashion trends.

The responsibility of the home-schooling parent is huge, and it would require vast resources of time, energy and creativity. Fortunately, there are a lot of guides out there now for home schooling, so there’s plenty of reading for me to do.

Day care? Forget about it. Seriously. Unless some miracle strikes, the heavens open and proffer up The World’s Best Daycare, I hear too much nasty stuff about group care facilities.

I think there are plenty of things we could do with a child that would allow him or her a lot of social interaction – hobbies, play dates, parks, classes we’d all take together, meeting up with other home-schooling kids and so forth. For sports there are things like 4H and community leagues, if the child were interested in them.

The Ideal Life

Ideally? A big house in the country with barns and field and big, big trees and land. Room to run forever and build snow forts and hide in the brush. A big room for home-schooling. If I could raise our kids on a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment. So much of my anxiety revolves around what happens to children in the grips of American society.

Practically? Our house will do just fine. We have trees and a big yard  and a garden. We have plenty of room in the house itself, and room to expand, should we need to.

Growing up in the country is a fabulous thing, though… I ran through the corn, explored the woods, climbed trees, made an elaborate fort in the brush with Lisa, my best friend next door. Life in the country is good. While one can’t easily walk downtown, there are bike rides and nature walks.

What if I’m just having pangs and they pass?

Yeah. What about that, indeed…
What if reading about these amazing moms and dads has skewed my perspective? Bluebirdbaby, Ree the Pioneer Woman, Soule Mama… they almost make it look easy. I know it isn’t. My friend Kevin and his wife Jen are raising an astonishingly cute and awesome daughter, and if I could do half as well as they seem to be, I think that would be pretty groovy. Kevin is a grad school language geek, something that gives some of his posts a unique character, as he watches his little field experiment grow up:

“Nora and I were at the park watching a man play frisbee with his two border collies on a hill. He was taking turns throwing to each dog, though, so we could only ever see one at a time. Nora was terribly, terribly excited and kept calling out “doggie! doggie!” and making the sign for ‘more’ and saying “more doggie!”. Until they got out of phase and both dogs came bounding up the hill together and Nora called out, in an amazed little voice, TWO DOGGIES!”

“I nearly fainted. “two doggies”. She got the number right, she differentiated 2 from 1, she used the English plural inflection properly, she did the voicing assimilation on that morpheme properly… I’m still kind of amazed. It was a glorious moment to be alive; I’m still kind of buzzing.”

Other examples from Kevin of the parent (and writer) I’d like to be:

“I inadvertently created a monster this afternoon at lunch. Nora got mushed-up peas on her pants
and was kind of freaking out about it, “OH NO! OH NO! Dada, peas! oh NO!”. So, wishing to show her that a little mess on one’s pants is nothing to get worked up about, I scooped a puddle of peas off the table with my finger and smeared them all over her other leg. This did, indeed, get her to calm down because she thought it was hilarious.

She immediately started spooning peas directly onto her pants legs so she could rub them in. Then she grabbed a glob of peanut butter and rubbed that in really well too. I eventually got her to stop (gently & playfully so as not to undo the intended message) and she helped me hose off her clothes in the sink (picture tiny, shivering Nora standing on her stool in a diaper and helping Dada wash her clothes — like a little chihuahua being asked to pull a dogsled).

Was someone out there hoping for hand-me-down clothes from this person? :)”

What about my mother?

My mother has always wanted grandchildren, but she’s always known she wouldn’t have any. She says she’s come to accept that, and I believe her. I mean, it’s late in the game.

I think she’d be a wonderful grandma in some regards, because she wouldn’t have the chance to get bored with a child not in her house. But I know with 100% certainty she would not respect my wishes in regards to toys, food or anything else, for that matter. Now I understand, part of being a grandparent is being able to let the grandkids run a little wild and spoil them without having the deal with the consequences. But I wouldn’t trust her not to actively try to turn my children against me. Seriously. Her disapproval of me would rain down upon them in sheets and torrents. She would undermine me at every possible opportunity.

So what do I do with that? Only have supervised interaction between her and the kids? That just seems impractical. It’s difficult to even try to think about her having a relationship with any children of ours at this point – I haven’t even let her come to our new house yet!

My dad and Janet would be great with grandkids. They volunteer at the daycare for their church and they seem to love it. Janet’s three daughters don’t have any children of their own, although they’re all young enough to have kids in their futures yet. They’d probably have fun with grandkids. Mike’s parents are all about the grandchildren, and I’m sure they’d have a ball, too.

How it changes a relationship

I’m certain my relationship with Mike would change, and it could be for the better or for the worse. It wouldn’t just be the two of us anymore, able to do pretty much whatever we please, whenever we please. We’d probably be closer, we’d probably argue and get frustrated with each other.

Mike would be a great dad. I have no qualms about his ability to live up to his end of the bargain, should we make one – I have several about my own, of course.

Most people my age have children in high school

I remember one of my good friends’ parents were quite a bit older than the usual parent in our age group. Andrea’s parents were in their fifties, possibly their sixties, when she was in high school. They were a fantastic family, though – her dad was an artist, her mom was … something else. She did a lot of baking. Their house was so much fun to go to – big old country house in the middle of nowhere, fresh vegetables and breads in the kitchen, flowers outside, a big barn her dad used for a studio… that’s the kind of house I was talking about in the ideal blurb. Their parenting approach seemed pretty laid-back, and their kids were well-adjusted – at least, as well-adjusted as one can be in high school.

My mumble-year-old friend Rick accidentally got his 40-year-old wife pregnant on her birthday several years back (“I just wanted to go shopping!” she later joked.) Their kid is turning out to be pretty spectacular, even if there were jokes about Rick and his son being in diapers at the same time.

I’m not concerned about people judging me for having a child later in life, but I do wonder, a little bit, if it’s fair not to be around for a longer period of time in the child’s life. I figure if I die in my seventies, any of our kids would probably be in their thirties – well on their own ways, perhaps even with children of their own. If i were to die in my eighties, there’s a whole nother decade – plus, Mike is 9 years younger than I am. He will likely be around after I’m gone, if he stays healthy. Although, given womens’ tendencies to outlive men, maybe we’ll both be shuffling off this mortal coil around the same time. Fun stuff to think about, huh?

What about the elevated risks for preganancies at my age?

The literature varies wildly on this. “OH MY GOD, over 35 and the risk of Down’s Syndrome and everything horrible goes up exponentially!” to “it does go up, but by a fraction of a percent – no worries, lady.” The list of potential complications does seem bigger than pre-35 (the magical cut-off date,) and I suspect overall physical health and activity contribute to the statistics. Hence, I need to get myself in gear – which I’d planned to do anyhow, but now I have a possible actual tangible goal and reason for doing so that might help motivate me to keep at it, instead of baking and eating a pecan pie almost entirely by myself. When I have something in mind I really want – there’s little stopping me.

There are increased risks for endometriosis, placental abruption and any number of other anomalies, but the statistics aren’t hugely alarming. I’d be willing to give it a shot.

My body would never be the same again, but heck, I’ve let it go completely to crap, anyhow.

As I’ve reconnected with high school classmates on Facebook, I see quite a few of them currently pregnant or recently having had children. This is encouraging.

In front of the camera

I don’t want to be there. I suspect I would have to be. Boo!!

An excuse to do stuff

Having an entire universe to show a new person would be very, very cool. There would be field trips! Science museums, natural history museums, national parks and wildlife preserves! I don’t treat myself to those things, but it would be important to do for our kids. My parents took me a lot of places, and it was very cool. Museums, historic sites… ok, I didn’t really appreciate the historic sites, but most of the museum stuff was cool.

And there would be reading! I could revisit my childhood favorites. And make new favorites. Engender a love of books and the process of reading a physical, paper book. And never, EVER, have a huge purple dinosaur on the television. Ever. Sesame Street, sure. NOVA, National Geographic, absolutely! I drank that stuff in as a young child.

The Psychology of Gender

As often as I’ve casually contemplated having kids in years past (which wasn’t often) and months recently (which has been often,) I have always expressed a preference for a boy. “If I could be guaranteed to have a boy, I might do it.” Boys just seem inherently easier, right? As a tomboy myself, I understand little-boy things. As a non-girly-girl, I most certainly do not understand things like hair and make-up. A boy would be almost effortless by comparison to a girl.

Little girls are pretty stinking cute, though, I have to say, even if they require a little more effort. And, I hope, I could impart some kind of sensibility that layers of make-up are not required.

The stay-at-home mom

Mike is, by an order of magnitude, the breadwinner of the household, making (and rightfully so) more than twice what I do. To home-school and avoid the dreaded day cares, I’d probably be the one to stay home. Still, a large part of me thinks it’s unfair to ask only one partner to work, while the other one stays at home. Not that staying at home isn’t a lot of work with kids involved, but the “officially working” partner may not see it that way. Mike’s a logical guy, and I don’t think he’d hold it too much against me, but I’d really want to make sure he was 100% ok with it. Maybe we could switch off an on, but I don’t see myself as being able to bring down nearly as much money as he does.

There’s a lot that’s appealing in being a stay-at-home mom, but I also hear the horror stories of the stay-at-home mom, driven mad by lack of adult interaction and the same old routines day in and day out. I think some of this is remedied, though, by simply getting out of the house. “Simply,” I say, when there are diaper bags and car seats and lord only knows the 89 hectobazillion things of which I am unaware that make it not quite so simple… but I maintain people have been having and raising babies in all manner of conditions that didn’t involve any of these things, and doing it Just Fine.

Which brings us to…

The electric baby wipe warmer

Are you kidding me?! The world is so disposable, especially when considering all the various products for babies; diapers, wipes, toys, everything. In reading over various forums online, it seems like if parents don’t buy every little item for their baby, they are simply terrible parents with no regard for their child’s well-being. Now I can understand the desire not to shock one’s baby’s bottom with an icy cold wipe, but rather than buy a powered device… how about not using disposable wipes? Yes, there’s more effort for keeping things clean and sanitary, but on the whole, better for the environment, better for the baby. It’s entirely possible to use natural diapers without paying for a laundry service. It’s less convenient than disposable diapers, and they’re certainly not as easy to put on, but I’m willing to make some sacrifices here. From an ecological perspective, the use of resuables and clear, but the use of a laundering service or not, isn’t as cut-and-dried. This paper:

SUMMARY DIAPERS: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS AND LIFECYCLE ANALYSIS

notes the economy of scale makes using a service more environmentally friendly and more economical (water and electricity usage is less when dealing with large volumes.) However, it was written by the National Association of Diaper Services, so bear that in mind.

And what about religion and spirituality?

I would be fine raising kids to learn about various religions, but not saying one or the other is better. I learned all about Greek mythology as a child, and was absolutey fascinated by it. It thoroughly enriched my life. Learning the various stories in the various religious texts provides good lessons, much like some of Aesop’s Fables do. There are many valuable nuggets to glean from so many sources, and I feel exposing children to as many viewpoints as possible is one of the major reponsibilities of a parent. Another thing my parents did well for me was to instill very deeply that all people are equal, irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual preference, politics, anything, and to be tolerant of viewpoints other than my own. They taught me to ask questions, and that the world is a marvelous, wonderous place.

What I want most….

Is to be sure I don’t end up quietly resenting a decision to have children. Kids pick up on these things. I’ve had friends over the years who have said, “I love my kids more than anything, but sometimes, I wish I’d done it differently.”

Phew… I think that’s everything I urgently needed to get off my chest. :D

Reading this, linked from a reader of my toothpaste post, helps too:

“Anyway. Clementine is sleeping right beside me, swaddled and peaceful and perfectly adorable. Our first two weeks with her have been wonderful. Napping with a newborn is a sweet pleasure one has to experience to understand. Correction: sleeping with one’s own newborn. I’ve never really been into other people’s babies. I mean, I can recognize the cuteness and sweetness, but I’ve never been especially drawn to babies, never known how to hold them, never thought I’d know what to do with one. I was taking it on faith that what everyone says is true: when it’s your own baby, it’s entirely different. Hormones and crazy love kick in at once and turn you kind of into a different person, at least in that way. It’s true. Turns out, it all comes naturally. Thank you, hormone cocktail! The holding and nuzzling and comforting, turns out I DO know what to do! Oh, and changing diapers isn’t even gross. Spit up isn’t gross. There’s nothing at all gross about one’s own baby. Other babies? Sure. Grossness galore. But not one’s own baby. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Clementine is the cutest, sweetest baby ever created :-)”

Six thousand words, this post is so far. Six thousand confused, crazy words. It’s funny, though, how venting words to a page helps me get things sorted in my head. It all seems less desperately chaotic now, something I can look at and think more coherently about, despite its disjointed and frenzied presentation. I can work with this.

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Mental Well-Being, Off-Topic ,

5 responses to A Baby? Am I Insane?!


  1. Wow!
    I don’t have the time to comment about all the thoughts that ran through my head as I read this incredibly long post.So I am just going to say this.

    I think you worry WAY TOO MUCH!!!

    I can certainly understand all of your hesitations about having a child but let me say this… I had my son at 21 years old unplanned and unmarried. I am a better person for it. Parenthood is the most rewarding thing I have ever accomplished. I know that people say that all the time but it is so true. It is tough but don’t look at what your mother did… you are not your mother and you aren’t married to your father. Your child will be an improved version of the two of you.
    Just relax… if/when it happens you will raise a terrific kid and you will love him/her unconditionally.

    I am glad you read Laini’s post. I think you may relate to her in many ways. She is very honest.
    Just relax. Life is great, share it.

    • Erin

      I’m sure you’re correct about me worrying too much – thanks for reading through it and offering your opinion! Looking ahead down path is scary, but I suspect, like most things in life, once the journey starts, it gets more comfortable. Laini is wonderful – I’d never heard of her before, and I’m so glad you linked me to her!

  2. Severin

    Very interesting read. :) My response to this is too wordy to fit here. Hit me up sometime and I’ll blab to you about somewhat relevant opinions on the matter.

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone who thought so much about the pros and cons of having a baby! All good points. Us, we just knew we wanted a baby. Mot much thought in that! And after 24 years–she’s still a joy! Oh, the teenage years were ROUGH, but I’m now a grandmother and still loving it!

  4. Thor Jansen

    I think we can all agree that reproduction is fundamentally desirable, for anyone and everyone. I think it’s alright to replace yourself in the global population by having a baby. If everyone did that, the world population would be static. There’s nothing wrong with that. Have your baby and love it and do your best and be content, that’s it, but you only get two per couple.

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