Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I'd Like Another Offspring. I Don't Want Another Child.

First of all, don't panic, Janelle.  Everything I'm about to write is something you've heard me say before.

I recently read some thoughts from an anonymous internet user contemplating whether he should have another child.  As I got to thinking about what he wrote, I decided that airing why I have chosen not to have more children might be amusing.  At least to some.  Undoubtedly, some of you will find it horrifying.

I have two of the most precious and adorable daughters you are ever going to meet.  I say that completely objectively.  Really.  Stop rolling your eyes.

My older daughter, Bug, is just over five and a half years old, and Byrd is just about to turn two.  I can honestly say that the past four years of my life have been the most fun and exciting years I have ever lived.

Are you doing the math?  I can hear some of you thinking.  "Wait a minute?  His daughter is five years old and he only counts the last four as the most exciting years of his life?"  Yeah.  News flash: the first year and a half isn't all that exciting.

So let me be perfectly candid.  Bug and Byrd are the first two children in my life that I have ever really liked.  Most other children I merely tolerate.  I just don't really care for children.  They're fun in small doses, and it's nice that they exist.  But I want them to be someone else's problem--I don't want to spend any significant amount of time with children1.

That starts to change about the time that they turn 13.  Hopefully, none of my young scouts will read this, because I don't really even enjoy the 11 and 12 year olds.  They're still too child like.  But about the time they hit that first growth spurt, develop real physical strength, and begin to explore the world through the eyes of a budding young adult--that's exciting!  I love being around for that.

But I'm only willing to endure so much of children in order to experience their lives as teenagers and adults.  Which is a big reason I'm not having more children.  And now, for your enjoyment, a list of the four biggest reasons I have given to my wife for why I will not have any more children (don't worry, we're in agreement on this topic--unless she's changed her mind in the past couple of weeks, in which case, things will be really awkward at home tonight).
  1. I refuse to deal with another newborn.  After Byrd was born, Janelle ended up taking a trip to California to visit family.  She took the then three-week-old Byrd with her and was gone for about 10 days or so.  Up to that point, I thought I was adapting to having a newborn in the house pretty well.  I had at one point thought to myself, "I must be an awesome parent.  I don't feel all that phased by this whole new-baby thing."  After they left, I felt like a completely different person.  I had energy and motivation.  I felt alive.  Then, after 10 days of solid sleep, Janelle and Byrd came home and for the next three weeks I felt like crap.  I'm not putting myself through that again.
  2. I only marginally enjoy the first 18 months.  Byrd is about to turn two.  It's only been the past six months that I've had much interest in her, or even seen her as a person.  The way I feel about her now is an entirely different universe compared to how I felt about her 8 months ago.  I don't think I have the will to endure another 18 months of only obligingly caring about the food processor bundled up in the blanket.  
  3. I don't want another daughter.  I repeat, I do not want another daughter.  I might be able to convince myself to overcome items 1 and 2 on this list if I could be guaranteed a boy. But I know the probability is still 0.50 and if I were to have a third daughter, it would just be a child I didn't want.  That's extremely unfair to the child2.
  4. I feel like I'm at the limit of what I can handle emotionally.  At least with children.  I could probably take on three teenagers without a problem.  But this childhood stuff is hard on me. I just don't enjoy it enough to do it with a third. 
There are a number of other reasons I could list, but they are far more personal than I'm willing to share.  

1 Though I say this, the past few months, whenever I've dropped Byrd off at the nursery in church, I've stayed to help when there are more screaming children than there are adults in the room. And I rather enjoy helping calm the children and encouraging them to play instead of wailing for mom and dad. But that's probably the difference between meaningful service and living with the brat [there has been some concern raised that my casual and irreverent humor doesn't come across well in my use of the word 'brat' here.  It's nothing personal; and is meant to reflect the difference in attitudes we feel between our own children and other people's children].

2 Yes, I know I'd get over that once the kid was actually born. But this isn't about what life would be like then. It's about how I feel now.

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