A few weeks ago, I did a writing retreat with my writing group, a bunch of smart, accomplished women in their late 20’s. None of them have kids or are even close to having kids, and it was really interesting to hear their perspective on motherhood. I wouldn’t say they were completely anti having children, but perhaps neutral to moderately against it. It seemed like they had only heard and seen the rough parts – the whining, crying, pooping, puking, never-being-able-to-jump-without-peeing-yourself parts. I’ll admit, those are some major points for the con column. I too enjoy(ed?) jumping without peeing myself. But I feel like it’s my duty to share some of the items in the pro column.
1. You always have someone on your side.
How great is it to have someone who always has your back? In exchange for carrying them inside me for 10 months apiece, my two offspring offer me their unwavering fealty. I got this new poncho a few months ago. I was super excited the first time I wore it. Matty made some snide comment about it being old lady wear, but as soon as I saw Hazy, she lit up. “Mama, you’re wearing your poncho! I love when you wear your poncho!” So do I, Hazy, so do I.
2. Unconditional love is pretty sweet.
Okay, maybe this should’ve been #1. It’s hard enough to find your true love, but finding someone who loves you unconditionally is practically impossible. If you can’t find them, you just have to make them (adoption counts too, of course). When I have morning breath, when I left my clothes lying all over the house, when I’ve put on 1 or 2 or 7 pounds, when I’ve yelled, “I SAID NEVER WAKE MAMA UP BEFORE 7 AM!” like I’m Joan Crawford confronted with a wire hanger all because George was singing, “This Little Light of Mine” like a little angel at 6:55, my kids adore me. There’s literally nothing I can do to make them not love me.
3. You’re rarely alone and therefore alone time is more special.
I almost tried to position, “you always have a companion” like it’s a benefit, but you’re no dummies, and lies do not become us. Never being alone (when you pee, when you shower, when you’re changing, when you’re on a conference call,when you want to eat dessert but you told the kids they can’t have dessert, okay, you get the point) is firmly in the con column. But on the other hand, since alone time is such a rarity, when you do have it, it’s pretty glorious. When people without kids spend a Saturday binge-watching The OA, it’s just another Saturday. If I spend a Saturday binge-watching The OA, I’m like a shelter dog that first time it runs free in a field. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!
4. You have a built-in excuse for everything.
Sorry I’m late, George wouldn’t put on his shoes. Sorry I can’t make it to your vegan baking night, I’m on mom duty. God I’d love to come help you move, but Hazy has ballet lessons. Oh man, can’t make that all day conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, George has a stomach bug. Sorry I can’t do <insert thing you don’t want to do>, my kid <good lord there are a million believable things you can put here that no one can ever call you out on>.
5. You get to see your partner in a whole new light.
There’s a reason for that cliché that you fall in love with your husband all over again when you have a baby. Watching my shaved-head, tattoo-covered, guy’s guy husband make pom pom pillows with Hazy melts my icy cold heart.
6. They teach you stuff.
Like how to eat cupcakes (frosting first), how to dress (in all the things you never thought you should wear), and how to sing (wholeheartedly, no matter what).
They also teach you patience. So much patience.
7. You gain a whole new set of friends.
Not a replacement set, mind you, because I still love my pre-motherhood friends like I love nachos, but a bonus, add-on embarrassment of riches, like when you get a free second cell phone and you’re like, “what do I even do with a second cell phone, but what the hell, free cell phone!”
Once you have kids, you meet other people with kids who are around the same age. And once you’ve hung around a group of women with nipple guards on your nipples for 8 weeks and they’ve dutifully pretended not to notice you have flying saucers around your nipples for the entire time, there’s a certain bonding that takes place. (Note: Let’s add nipple guards to the con column. Earmuffs/eye shields, childless friends.)
These are people who will pick your kids up from daycare, wipe your kids’ poopy asses, and put up with your kids’ assholery in the way they wouldn’t put up with their own kids’. And that is a special level of friendship indeed.
8. You get to do a lot more kid stuff.
Did you know you can’t get into LegoLand as an adult with no children? (I guess they’re worried about creepers.) And LegoLand is pretty awesome; there’s even a hidden window in their Lego-recreation of Boston where, when you press a button, a light reveals a Lego version of the Cheers bar and the Cheers theme song plays.
Other kid things that I’ve enjoyed recently include: eating copious amounts of boxed mac & cheese, going to Canobie Lake Park, going to an indoor trampoline park, bowling, playing arcade games, playing Uno, watching Kindergarten Cop, creating an art collage out of old US Weekly magazines, building a Lego spaceship with bejeweled wings, and singing an off-key duet of Uptown Funk.
Of course, you can do all this stuff (except for LegoLand, because, pervs) even if you don’t have kids, I just find you’re much less likely to.
9. They are surprisingly funny.
Ever notice how the best comedians have no shame? Guess who else has no shame? Kids.
Mine make me laugh until there are tears in my eyes fairly often. There’s this book called, “My Quotable Kid” which is basically a blank notebook with spaces to record your kids’ best quotes along with when and where they said it. I’m on my third volume. Here are a few of my favorites:
George (age 3.5): I got no undies on so I can remember that my penis is under my pants.
Matty: What kind of donut do you want?
Hazy (age 2): The kind that goes in my mouth.
Me: Don’t hit yourself, George.
George (age 3): I’m not! I’m just clapping my face.
Stranger: What kind of dog do you have?
Hazy (age 4): A terrible one.
10. You’re forced to become a better person.
Things I started doing once I became a mother: swear less, eat more veggies, buy more organic foods, stop buying factory farm meat, help the homeless, talk to my parents more frequently, feel more empathy for jerks, send more thank you letters, sing more, eat less nachos. I lied about the last one; I’m a mother, not a saint.
So, in summary:
Pros: Legoland, mac & cheese, unconditional love.
Cons: nipple shields, lack of privacy, unwanted peeing.
Who wants to have some kids? Let’s do this!* Please feel free to add to the pros/cons in the comment section.
*Disclaimer: your kids might not be as great as my kids. Not all kids are the same. Some kids suck.