Flip a Coin

Everyone goes on about how having a baby is the biggest decision of your life, the biggest commitment you'll ever make and you better think really long and hard about whether or not you want to do it and be absolutely 100% sure. I don't think that's true or at least I don't think it's helpful. Having a kid does change your life to some degree, but not as much as something like The Rapture would. Since I'm a stay-at-home-mom now there is a  bigger day to day change for me than for someone who spends 40+ hours away from that little reminder of how much easier life was when you weren't skidding across the living room on loose train parts. And all day long now, I do boomerang between the extreme joy and extreme fury of being a parent, the mundane and the sublime collide every hour. Yet the question of having a kid, I really don't think that is such a big deal. You can't plan it out. Of mice and men again. Or isn't there that joke about, "How do you make God laugh? Come up with a plan." Have kids or don't. Either way probably won't go the way you expect it to.

It's true having a child has impacted my relationships, my "career", my writing, my band, my travel plans, my friendships, my family life, my free time, my ability to meet people on roof tops and street corners, my drinking habits, my future plans. But still, it's not like you stand there brushing sand off your pillow at night and think--maybe this wasn't such a great idea. It just is your life at that point. And you're happy the way you were before or miserable the way you were before, except this time you clap your hands and stomp your feet when you're the former. I just thought I should maybe tell others, especially others wavering on the whether or not to have kids question, that you can treat the decision lightly. That's how it's been treated throughout most of human history. You can't trouble yourself over making the right decision. It's like where you go to college or if you go at all or if you move to New York or if you stay in rural Iowa or if you become a doctor or if you write trashy romance novels or if you fulfill your life dream to see Graceland...none of these things is really all that big a deal, day to day. You don't question and constantly wonder about having made the right choice (unless you gave away your life savings planning for a Rapture that didn't happen and someone says, "Why are you so upset? It's not the end of the world," and you say, "Exactly, that's the problem").

That crap about "You'll live with this decision for the next 18 years" is just obnoxious. It's true we don't want people having kids who aren't capable of taking care of them, but I have never seen any correlation between getting all the ducks in a row before having one and willingness to spend evenings lining plastic ducks along the edge of the bath tub on the other. If having kids is a big deal, it's because people (like me) try to carry on certain aspects of their lives as if they didn't have kids. And even then the kid-factor is simply a big deal that obscures something else that would have been the big deal of the moment. There is almost always something. Most of us can't think in front of tigers, and don't have much opportunity. Until then we'll harnass the anxiety from the fight or flight we didn't have to fight or fly from, and spread it out all over the place, to sippy cups, deadlines, bedspreads, something mildly insensitive someone we just met might have said.


  1. The road to Penelope and Magnus was hatched by one too many dinner party Pernods one spring night in 2007. I think this was a few months after I declared that people who spend a party talking about (and whose sole purpose in life is) their kids or their house are the most painfully boring being people alive, and I pray I never end up one of them. Well, now I am one of them -- about my kids/not a house. The nights of dinner party Pernods are largely over -- so are movies, bars, late nights and all manner of high drama aside from toddler meltdowns, but I'm sure that those kids were the best decision I would never would have made if given a choice. Perhaps I just don't have the time to ponder and bemoan what was lost -- But I have a vague feeling that perhaps kids save us from ourselves and our own lost wanderings. We just don't know quite how lost we were until we can't go wandering any longer. Or maybe that is the delusion we need to believe because we have 18 years of this.:)

  2. That is hilarious. Definitely paste this into their baby books. It's true how those people talking about their kids were "the most painfully boring people alive" and I still do feel that way hearing about first steps, first teeth, first word (maybe not first slice of Spumoni Gardens pizza, though). How could anyone EVER EVER EVER possibly care when somebody they never met first rolled over? Maybe the problem is people so often focus on recognizable milestones instead of their own experience with being a parent, including all the difficult stuff. It's another area of people doing PR for one's own life where everything is just so incredible all the time. Though even saying that I wonder which is worse, the people whose husbands are saints, children are angels, friends are fab, or the people whose unfailing response to "How are you?" is "tired", "busy" or "stressed". Perhaps the truth is I just like to complain and criticize whatever it is I come across. But back to what you wrote. What are Pernods exactly? It sounds so Mad Men which is so fitting for the scene you describe. Beautifully put: "We don't know quite how lost we were until we can't go wandering any longer." I remember a friend saying a few years ago that she doesn't want to hold onto the illusion that she's going to "do something big first" (before having a baby) because she'd already had an entire decade to do that something else and hadn't done it. That was kind of a wake up call for me; had been thinking the same thing about what I needed to do while I still had zero responsibility to others. Ha! But I do agree all of this may simply be our attempt to block out the 18 years of constant and continuous ball and chain responsibility to new living creatures who are suddenly much more important than we are.

  3. Definitely the funniest line written about the Rapture.

  4. whoops, I didn't know I was supposed to take the decision seriously in the first place! Well that must explain a lot. My parents always said "if you wait until you are ready to have children, you never will."

  5. Great post Rachel and the comments here offer a lot too.

    It reminds me of a joke...
    oh, the food here is so bad...
    yes and the portions are small too.

    ah, what a miserable life,
    oy, and it's so short.

  6. Thanks Jeanette! Funny would not have thought of the connection to that joke but there is something that connects them. Have to check over to see what you've been writing and thinking lately.


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