How do I decide if I want us to have a baby?
January 14, 2014 9:40 PM   Subscribe

I'm having a difficult time deciding whether I want my wife and I to get pregnant. She is very into it, but I have mixed feelings. How do I decide if I'm ready?

I think I want kids at some point in the future, though at the moment I feel rather ambivalent towards them (kind of like, I have a vague, undefined desire to have a Havanese dog, but the desire isn't strong enough to override the desire not to do the chores that come with owning a dog). This would be fine except for a few complications:

1. My wife wants kids ASAP for biological-clock related reasons. I don't blame her. I'd want to be pregnant with a young and healthy body too.
2. I want to be young when I have kids, and still be young by the time we expect them to be leaving home. My own kind of biological clock.
3. I want our grandparents to be alive to see their great grandchildren be born. My grandfather is 95 so this is a real concern.

The problem is, to me, that these reasons just aren't that compelling. I feel like I should be excited for kids (scared and excited, maybe, but excited nonetheless), when I really just feel indifference. It doesn't help that I have a few other problems with kids:

1. Babies are boring. Kids can be fun! But babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting.
2. I really like my life right now. As in, I'm happier now than I've been in my entire life. I finally have independence, a job I like, and free time to do things that I want to do. Why would I throw a huge, life-changing wrench into the gears?

Of course, there are good things on the other side:

1. A chance to relive the best parts of my childhood, both alongside my child, and vicariously through my child, doing arts and crafts projects, music, learning, etc. Someone to be proud of. Someone to play with.
2. Someone to be the focus of my projects. It would give me a reason to knit, a person to write educational software for, etc.
3. Someone to hang out with as they get older, that I enjoy being around.

Any discussion of any of these points to help clarify my thinking would be most appreciated. Anyone who had doubts, but had a child anyway? How did it work out?
posted by jsharke to Human Relations (58 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Well, children are pretty excellent, BUT, having them changes everything. The worst part is the strain they put on a marriage - oof!

I can't tell you what to do. I can say your assessments as you've laid them out of the pro's and cons seem spot on to me.

Data point: I have a son that's 2.75 yrs old.
posted by jbenben at 9:47 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Once in a while someone asks me if they should get a dog. My answer is that, unless they are willing to make a 100% commitment to that pup, 24/7, they shouldn't do it, it's not right for them, or the pup...

"... babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting...."

I don't think you're at that point in your life.... yet...
posted by HuronBob at 9:51 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I didn't think babies would be interesting. But mine were!
posted by mazola at 9:53 PM on January 14, 2014 [26 favorites]

Babies are boring unless they're your own. I had a lot of doubts about having a baby (I am female) but now that I have her I cannot imagine my life without her, and I think she is pretty much devastatingly interesting.

In my opinion, if you thought you might not want kids at all, you probably should spend more time thinking about this. But if you want kids eventually, you may as well have them now. Think about this point: "I really like my life right now. As in, I'm happier now than I've been in my entire life. I finally have independence, a job I like, and free time to do things that I want to do. Why would I throw a huge, life-changing wrench into the gears?" Let's say you think this is a really compelling reason to delay. Why? You really want to wait until your life is slightly shittier for some reason to throw the wrench? You may as well just get started if that wrench is eventually going to get thrown, right?
posted by town of cats at 9:54 PM on January 14, 2014 [46 favorites]

I had many of the same reasons for wanting a kid semi-early (27 when my first was born, not that early by a lot of standards I guess).

Unfortunately if you want to have babies young, you only get one chance at that. That's really about the only reason I did it. At the time I was pretty apathetic about babies. But, like 99% of all parents, wow, your own baby is somehow SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING than other people's babies.

Is never having a baby an option for you? If you feel like you'd like to have one eventually, then just go ahead and do it. You're never really ready. And as you mention, in case you kids turns out to be a jerk, hey, at least you'll still have some good years left when they leave the house.

BTW, as it turns out a psychologist later diagnosed me with dysthymia. I don't get particularly excited about anything. Clearly you're not me. But sometimes you can do really huge things without being all that excited about them at first. It sort of grows on you over time.
posted by GuyZero at 9:55 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

1. Babies are boring. Kids can be fun! But babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting.

I'm currently pregnant and close to ready to pop and honestly, I feel, more or less, the same way. But the sooner you have a baby, the sooner you get to experience Fun Kid Stuff. Also, I think a time in your life when you're happy and solid is a really great time to have a kid. Don't you want to usher a kid into a family and life that's joyful? That was my feeling, at least.

All that being said, it's normal to have doubts. I still do, now and then and I'm simultaneously super psyched about the idea. It's a huge change! I think it's pretty normal to feel that way, and that it's not necessarily a reason not to do something that otherwise might make you pretty happy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:57 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Babies are boring. Kids can be fun! But babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting.

On one hand, I think it's good to have this attitude, that parenting - especially the early parts (which I have just entered for the second time, so I'm 'in the trenches' so to speak) - is damned hard slog and can be quite unedifying.

People I know who have really struggled often had a really exalted/idealised notion of what parenting will be. When reality was different, they had great feelings of failure and disappointment.

At the same time, if you decide to do this, you must let go any sense of generosity or 'doing a favour'/making a sacrifice for your wife. This will be very hard for the first year especially, and regardless of how spectacular a father you are, I can tell you, your wife will be doing more of the hard yards and will absolutely require your unstinting, unquestioning and unflappable support. Being at home with a baby all day, if you pursue a 'wife-stays-home' model like most couples, is harder than working - I've done both. It's harder at home.

Be prepared to do everything you can without voicing or displaying (preferably without feeling) a skerrick of resentment. If you don't those seeds of resentment can yield extremely bitter, relationship-destroying fruit. If you do it, you do it as a team, together, making the choice.

That all being said, you don't say how old you or your wife are. Hard to assess how much "time" you might have without that info. Regarding feelings of being ready, in some fundamental respects, you're never ready, I think. It will be a learning experience. In this respect, I don't think you will wake up one day feeling "oh yes, today is the day we start having a kid". Bear in mind also it can take over a year for a perfectly healthy and fertile couple to conceive - so don't bank on having a kid immediately (pro-tip: ovulation strips).

The first year is tough, but contrary to popular reports, we've found the second a delight. Once kids start talking, they're great. I wouldn't want to have to deal with a newborn being older; it's very tiring!

Things to think about in your decision:
1) The presence of family who are able to help out from cooking meals to the odd stint of baby sitting or yardwork if you live in a house.
2) Where you are in careers and jobs that will enable you to not exactly slack off but perform at a lower level for a while, part-time options
3) Your financial situation that will enable one person to stay at home longer (or two!), or pay for daycare. Other financial things that could crop up.
4) Is your home suitable for a kid, do you need to move homes? Is it close to a daycare of is your work close to one?

Best of luck, whatever you decide.
posted by smoke at 9:59 PM on January 14, 2014 [21 favorites]

I thought babies were boring as shit (and ugly and creepy too, JUST BEING HONEST) until my sister had one. That sucker fills me with the most radiant, magnetic joy-- I can't help it, something to do with being related to him, I think. I love holding him, I love feeding him, I love burping him, I am... OK with changing his diaper. He's a precious angel and a doll and I kind of wish he would stay a baby forever (no I don't I'm very excited to find out who he is going to be in this world). So, if you want kids eventually, and you're happy now, it seems like a great time to start trying for a baby. They grow on you. Sometimes, like, immediately. They're so vulnerable and you can't help but want to take care of them.

(YMMV of course, but I think for a lot of people "absolutely no interest in babies qua babies" turns to "how did I live without this person??" once they are yours.)
posted by stoneandstar at 10:01 PM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Babies are indeed very boring. But my baby was not. My baby was an infant among infants, a marvel, a sight to behold.

Yet I remained realistic about early toddlerhood -- that's the truly boring stage; big overgrown babies... My 1yo was a personality explosion and a delight and a joy and...

Moral: you can't use generic babies as a metric for that sort of thing. Your own is totally different. Which is why new parents are so often obnoxious.

My view going into it was "Okay, I like children, I don't like babies, but I'm sure I can deal with one until it turns into a child..." I was a bit wishy-washy. I had no idea how much I was going to thrill to parenting, no idea how awesome I was going to find my kid, no idea I had that much love in me. Literally the second I held her I gasped 'But she's PERFECT' and what moments before was an anonymous fetus (I was not the belly-rubbing sort of pregnant woman) was, instantly, the thing I loved most of all.

So there's some cheerful anecdata.

But tread carefully -- if you feel pressured into this and go ahead with it, and things are stressful, that could be quite a mess, maritally and parentally. It sounds like you're asking all the right questions and thinking the right thinks, though.
posted by kmennie at 10:01 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

At the same time, if you decide to do this, you must let go any sense of generosity or 'doing a favour'/making a sacrifice for your wife. This will be very hard for the first year especially, and regardless of how spectacular a father you are, I can tell you, your wife will be doing more of the hard yards and will absolutely require your unstinting, unquestioning and unflappable support. Being at home with a baby all day, if you pursue a 'wife-stays-home' model like most couples, is harder than working - I've done both. It's harder at home.

I gotta nth this, though. My sister's husband was a bit of a cad (stopped hanging around the house so much, wanted her to stay the night with the baby elsewhere when he had work early in the morning) when their baby was born, and she had her whole extended family so it wasn't awful, but it was a pretty bad showing on his part.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:03 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Babies are so much more interesting when they are yours. Watching someone who has NEVER BEEN ON EARTH BEFORE experiencing things for the first time again and again is actually really amazing, and knowing that you are the primary curator of those early experiences is a fascinating and wonderful feeling. (I mean, really. You get to say THAT IS A BUTTERFLY to someone who has never seen a butterfly before. You get to say THIS IS APPLE to someone who has never tasted an apple. You get to imagine, if only for a moment, every single thing in the world as new again and that is definitely not boring. It is life-altering, if you let it be. Also very fun.)

Babies are also a ton of work and take up more of your time and energy than you can possibly imagine, and a baby will utterly transform your social life and all of your closest relationships including your marriage. But if you know you want kids at some point anyway, then that stuff should not be an obstacle to you, because it's going to happen whenever you have a kid. In fact a time when you feel comfortable and stable in your work life and your marriage is an excellent time to have a kid, because you will be better equipped to handle the stress and work that comes with parenting.
posted by BlueJae at 10:07 PM on January 14, 2014 [15 favorites]

I like babies. I always have. I think they're cute and snuggly and smell great and have soft skin! But all that being said, I did also used to think they were kind of boring.

That changed after I took a developmental psych class. Now I am fascinated by them. I find the developmental process very interesting, and watching them learn how to do things is so cool. (I mean, they teach themselves how to walk. From scratch. When's the last time you did something that badass?).

Perhaps if you picked up some books and learned a bit more about child development babies might become less "boring, small, crying, pooping blob" and more "really cool and cute science experiment".

On preview: really seconding BlueJae.
posted by imalaowai at 10:13 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

We put off having kids because we were having a rocking good time. I'm not at all convinced it was the right choice: as good a time as they good times were, life now is exponentially more interesting. That is, now we get to do cool crap with our kids.
Babies are hard as crap and that part is wicked tough but then it's over and you forget it all anyway.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:19 PM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

You don't really decide that you're ready so much as you decide to give it a shot and hope it works out OK. Hell, I had a baby and then a year later my wife died. Holy shit, I'm a single dad! Didn't plan for that one, and it's not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, honestly. It's OK though. I'm alright. I love my daughter.

... babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting...

Babies *are* boring. Even your own baby. Not as much as other people's, but still. It doesn't matter though, because they grow out of it really, really quickly. By a year they've already gotten pretty interesting and a year is about 5% of the time you're going to be caring for them.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:43 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is one of those things that is really hard to rationalize from a pro/con list, because it's pretty normal to simultaneously delight in your children at levels you didn't think possible while also grieving the significant losses that it requires. My feeling is that the best things in life straddle this duality, and learning to navigate painfully sacrificial giving and the byproduct of whatever good comes from it is where the richness of life often lies.

So it's not even one of those things that you can always argue for what you get out of it, as much as it is saying that there's this hard road of parenting that tends to make you a better person if you are willing to take it, and which also has a sweetness to it that isn't found anywhere else.

It's hard to sell this, or to be convinced by it without some biological imperative driving it. Kids simultaneous wreck you and make you up into something better. It's not much of a sales-pitch, and it's something I would have probably said no to if I had all of the information up front. But now that I've done it, I wouldn't change it for anything.

Before our first child came, I was filled with dread, thinking often about money, life changes, etc. When she showed up, that all melted away. The concerns were there, but they were no longer the train that drove the emotions. It was replaced by something much better, much more compelling, and didn't have any experiential frame of reference to put on a pro/con list.

Sorry, that's some syrupy rambling. But I do like being a dad, quite a bit. I also don't always like being a dad. But I'm really glad that I am a dad.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:44 PM on January 14, 2014 [11 favorites]

I'm seven months pregnant and I think babies are boring. I want a child, but there are phases I have to go through - like pregnancy and tending a newborn - that I'm not exactly excited about.

Ambivalence is normal, it doesn't all have to be THE BEST THING EVER for it to be worthwhile.
posted by lydhre at 10:45 PM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

The thing nobody else has mentioned here yet is that if you don't want to have kids, your wife definitely does. And it will probably end your marriage if you don't want to and she does. She will need to break up with you ASAP in order to find another babydaddy. And there goes your happy life, to some degree.

Are you willing to give up your marriage over this? Seriously, this is what it'll come down to. I am less worried about a guy who is "eh" about having them than a guy who adamantly doesn't, but it will cost you your marriage if you don't get aboard that train, sorry. Her time is ticking and she can't wait around until you're "ready" in your 50's so much, and it sounds like you kinda agree with that too. And frankly, you don't sound that adamant against it--you sound like the sort of dude who will get more interested as time goes on. If that is genuinely the case, I don't think your marriage should have to end.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:48 PM on January 14, 2014 [10 favorites]

I feel like I should be excited for kids (scared and excited, maybe, but excited nonetheless), when I really just feel indifference.

Indifference is at least less problematic than strong aversion.

I finally have independence, a job I like, and free time to do things that I want to do.

There's a reason marriage and kids gets called "the full catastrophe" :)

Why would I throw a huge, life-changing wrench into the gears?

Because that's what you signed on for when you got married. 97, 98, 99, 100: here they come, ready or not.

The most important thing you can do right now is stop second-guessing yourself and stop trying to work out whether you are personally ready for this (clue: nobody ever is, even if they think they are). Don't try to decide what to do on your own; raising kids is a team sport. So you and your beloved need to be spending a lot of time talking this out, you both need to put all your cards on the table and negotiate an agreed course of action, work out a definite starting date for getting to work on the baby-making, and then both of you need to commit 100% to following through with what you each agreed to do.

Because you need to come up with a way of doing this without resenting each other. You need to not resent her for rushing you. She needs to not resent you for dragging your feet. Talk it out. Reach an agreed compromise that both of you can live with, even though it can't be absolutely ideal for each of you. Then go at it with open hearts in a spirit of total mutual support.

Expect that when the baby arrives, all of a sudden you won't have a wife in the house any more; you'll have a mother instead. You will feel dumped, and that will hurt. The healthiest way to deal with it does not involve competing with the baby for her attention: instead, resolve to compete (gently!) with her for baby time. You'll need to shift gears from husband to father and make it your business to be the best goddam father you possibly can be. Don't make her first year of motherhood involve placating a huge hairy sulky kid as well as the tiny totally dependent one.

The more love you can pour into your kids, the easier raising them will go for you. So once you're strapped into the scary ride, work hard at trusting the rails not to throw the cart over the side, unclench as much as you can, and work on getting some good shots of all three of you holding hands and gurning like loons as you whizz past the souvenir photo points.

Because boring or not, you will end up with plenty of war stories.
posted by flabdablet at 10:49 PM on January 14, 2014 [8 favorites]

I will confess that I didn't really want a baby when I became pregnant. Nor did I really want one much more as I continued to be pregnant, all the way up until he was born...and now I'm completely in love with my son. When I saw his face for the first time, it was as though I'd always known him, and had just been waiting for him to show up.

Anyway, it's great that you're happy with life as it is. Are you in a position where you and your wife could agree about a deadline? Maybe enjoy a year of stable babyfree adult life without worrying about Project Baby, and then get started?
posted by daisystomper at 11:08 PM on January 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Before kids- hiking in mountains, biking in mountains, camping, hanging out some with friends to talk or watch movies, occasional club to watch a band. We did stuff together, with married and single friends. Then we had baby, and we...went hiking in the mountains, biking when baby was old enough, camping, hanging out and talking or watching movies with friends, and occasionally going to a club to see a band. Did our lives change? Yes and no. I cut back on work hours to be home more. We had a wonderful baby who grew and changed each day. We made sure that baby went to bed in her own bed at the start of the night so we could have some adult time. The kids still go to bed early so we can have adult time. Kids are a great part of our lives, but they haven't changed who we are...only now we get more people to share the things we love doing with.
posted by 101cats at 11:35 PM on January 14, 2014 [10 favorites]

I don't think the decision to have a baby can be made through a rational analytic process. Ultimately it has to be an emotional decision or just a decision to go along with what your wife wants. I would note that personally I don't know anybody who regrets having kids. They enrich your life in myriad ways.
posted by Dansaman at 11:57 PM on January 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

I had serious doubts about my ex and put it off until I was forty. All the doubt was erased on the morning Boy was born and there was all this hullaballoo going on and mom was kind of out of it and I was holding him and all he wanted to do was stare at the sun. I found my mission in life. His first nap on that first day was on my chest.

It was never boring. Ceiling fans, busy streets, airports, dogs. Watching him watch things was fascinating. Now I watch him watch Touch. Jake blows his mind. He sits there with his mouth open.

Seven years later and he still prefers sleeping on me. I like it too. Who needs heat or blankets when you've a snuggle monster?

We both just pissed the bed. Sounds awful, right? But you know what? It was funny. We woke up cold and wet and stinky and then we were laughing. I think he started it because I don't do that very often anymore. One of us had a dream. We had a tickle fight in the shower and now he is asleep again.

Yesterday, the two of us had to run away from wolves. I told him to get behind me, but no, he whacked the first one in the nose with a stick and the pursuit ended. It was fun. We cackled about it over dinner. This little guy got bigger and has enough confidence to stand and deliver with a 70 lb wolf, but he gets his ass handed to him by a 5 year old girl in his martial arts class.

You just won't understand until you jump into parenthood with both feet. There's very little that is rational about my life with him and it will be some time before it is. It's all about fun and more fun.

It sounds nuts, but really, kids change your life without ruining it. It seems daunting until you commit. You'll be alright. Go for it. This is a love you've yet to experience.

Loving my boy so much and so deeply has changed everything. It pays back triple.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 1:47 AM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think I want kids at some point in the future, though at the moment I feel rather ambivalent towards them

Other peoples' kids can be amazing or boring, but your feelings about your own kids are on a completely different level. It's like watching someone else cooking a delicious steak on TV (or favourite food of your choice) versus eating one yourself. You might find cookery shows really interesting, or really boring, but even if you have zero interest in watching someone eat a steak on TV, eating a steak yourself is a completely different experience.

It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting.

Babies get interesting pretty quickly. To begin with they're just tiny larvae that need feeding and cleaning, but as soon as they start interacting with the world around them (and this happens way before 1 year old), it's fascinating watching them. Over time they learn to smile, grab, recognise you, crawl, laugh, shuffle, stand up, play with toys, make noises, dress themselves, say words, learn actions (kissing, hugging, waving), understand words and phrases... These are all things you don't see when you meet a baby for a few minutes. You don't see the changes-over-time, you just get a snapshot of them at that point as a probably poopy little snotball. The sheer rate at which they change is amazing. My son is almost two and while I am super-excited about when he's, say, 5 years old and we can go and do fun activities together and learn cool stuff, there is still loads of development at this age that is really interesting to watch and take part in.

I really like my life right now. As in, I'm happier now than I've been in my entire life. I finally have independence, a job I like, and free time to do things that I want to do. Why would I throw a huge, life-changing wrench into the gears?

Not going to lie - you will lose the free time, and some of the independence (in terms of being able to spontaneously go "hey let's go [see a film/on holiday at the last minute/out for a romantic dinner]" without finding a baby sitter). But this is unavoidable - if you're going to have a kid, you will lose those things to a greater or lesser extend whenever you have one. But as you say - there advantages to having one sooner or later so why not take the plunge now?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:59 AM on January 15, 2014

You will never be really ready.
But once you hold your child in your arms, you will understand.
posted by Flood at 4:26 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've been saying I don't want kids all my life. But then I changed my mind in the span of a few years. I did think about it a lot, and went for it when I was at a particularly "comfy" point at my life (good job, good relationship, household on autopilot, no major unfulfilled dreams/goals). I still don't like other people's kids, but my own kid is wonderful. So yeah, you can't fully base your decision on spending a little time with someone else's child.

OTOH, yeah there are moments when you really want to strangle them and throw them out the window, but then you take a deep breath, think about how this tiny little being you yourself brought into this world is completely, utterly dependent on you for all of their needs, and you are their food and warmth and comfort and love quite literally, and you go to them with a smile and coo and pick them up and comfort them.

But you really need to go into this 100%. You can't do it half-heartedly and offload most of the childcare on your wife. She'll probably end up doing most of the caring anyway (especially if she's breasfeeding), but you'll at least need to show your support and be ready to help any way you can.

Also, they start being fun way before age 1. Or maybe we just lowered our funny-ness standards. But not a day goes by without a hearty laugh, which didn't happen so regularly in my pre-baby days.
posted by gakiko at 4:50 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mostly echoing what others have said - you really don't know until they're yours.

A couple items; As long as the indifference isn't coming from "I never want kids" then we can keep going.

As long as you're not having kids to 'save' your marriage and mask other, deep problems and issues between you and your wife, then we can keep going.

Data point; I married my wife when I was 25. She was 34 at the time. We had discussed that her clock was DEFINITELY ticking before we agreed on dating each other. 18 years later, we have 3 boys - 16, 14 and 12 years old.

I knew I wanted to have kids 'eventually' before I met her. And I knew staying with her meant I was pretty much giving up my late 20's, when most folks - single or newlywed are traveling, exploring and doing all that 'before we settle down' stuff.

I was kind of indifferent about it as well - I knew I wanted them eventually, so why not now?

And I wouldn't change my decision. That being said;

Don't do it for anyone but yourself and your wife, and your life together.

Babies suck. Oh, moms coo and ooo and ah over them. But they are a horrendous timesuck, ruin your sleep patterns for years, and test every fiber of your being. Some dads love them around, too. But I was always somewhat indifferent about babies. Even mine.

Kids suck. They're not going to hang out with you, listen to you, or do anything you like. They will frustrate you beyond belief, and you will continuously pull your hair out asking what you did wrong, because so-and-so's kids are all so talkative and respectful, doing all those activities and always are on those family vacations with great pictures where everyone is getting along and having fun and they never fight.

Ok, maybe not that bad. My kids play mostly the same sports and activities as I do. But god forbid I try and teach them something. I have to hire strangers to do that. The good thing about having 2 or 3 is that at any one point in time, your odds are that one will be willing to hang out with you or share your interests at that point in time.

But - have them while you're younger. I'm 44 and starting to slow down already. I can't imagine having a 14 year old and coaching his soccer team like I do today if I were in my 50's or older. (including coaching the 16 year old, going snowboarding with all 3 of them, hiking, working around the house building decks and finishing the basement, and.. ok so maybe they do hang out and listen a bit more than I give them credit for....)
posted by rich at 5:03 AM on January 15, 2014

Don't underestimate the terrific boost your relationship with your baby-wanting-wife will get when she feels listened to. Said another way: don't underestimate the cost of not listening to her on this matter.

One of my big regrets in life is not listening to my wife sooner on this issue. A lot of grief could have been saved. The cost of the grief has been SO MUCH GREATER than the inconveniences of having a child sooner than I wanted.

I'm 40 with a 14 mo old.
posted by Murray M at 5:09 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am pregnant now, with our first child, at 40. I can't really speak from experience about babies and parenting (although I love reading the previous responses).

I did just want to say that the biological clock is no joke, though. Because of ambivalence and financial instability during the recession, we waited until I was 38. And experienced two miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities. I'm pretty sure that we could have avoided the most heartbreaking year of our lives if we had made the leap a few years earlier. Not that younger couples don't also sometimes experience loss or infertility, but it's less common, and also much better to get a handle on that at an earlier age if it does turn out to be an issue.

I don't want to be a downer... It looks like we got lucky this time, and I love being pregnant. My husband, who was the more ambivalent one, has been very into it ever since we saw our daughter wiggling around on the ultrasound. We're really looking forward to meeting our daughter... And I wish this were happening five years earlier.
posted by Kriesa at 5:43 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am childless. In my twenties and early thirties, I wanted children in an abstract way, if I were married and if we were ready, then I'd be a mom. I didn't get married until I was 39 and by then I had NO interest in having children of my own.

If you know you want a family, and if your wife is ready, there's no reason to put this off. Sure, you have a great life now, you'll just have a different great life. Do you trust that our biological imperative is to bond with and love our kids, even when they're boring babies?

It may NEVER feel like the perfect time to start a family, that's just life. Some things you just need to do on faith.

If you and your wife are 100% sure you both want children, there's no reason not to do it now. Trust that the rest will fall into place.

Also, know that you will second-guess this whole thing until the baby is in pre-school. That's also part of the deal.

Having children isn't for weaklings, but it is rewarding and most parents wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:50 AM on January 15, 2014

I don't know what you should do but I can tell you this for certain:

All parents have ambivalent feelings.

Even once the baby arrives it would still often produce strong but contrary feelings in you. This is something I learned in a training once and it's really made me a better educator and a more confident parent.

I imagine that once you guys get pregnant or decide to put it off for an agreed upon time (say, a year) your feelings will calm some. Following a path is much easier than taking the first step down a new one.
posted by Saminal at 6:35 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

>Anyone who had doubts, but had a child anyway? How did it work out?

A few snapshots from someone who was in a position very like yours 4 or 5 years ago, except with genders swapped.

He is the light of my life. I was absolutely filled with resentment over having made this choice for pretty much the entire first year, parts of the second, and whenever he vomits. I miss my old life. I love my new life. I've made some good friends via my son. I've totally lost contact with other very good friends. I text receptive friends and relatives with the amazing things he says and does. I would die for him. He knows exactly where my buttons are and will hit them with glee. I've "slept in" (past 6:30am) maybe twice in 6 months. My marriage is both better and worse. I can't believe how much money we spend on him. I do not regret having him (today) but I absolutely do not want another (98% of the time).

It's complicated. *Life* is complicated.

If you do want a child eventually, write a list of the financial and personal goals that you want to complete first. Figure out how much a child will cost where you live, and make sure you can afford it. We maxed out our vacation days, set aside a certain amount of money. We traveled. I took vitamins and had some genetic testing. My husband got to meet some newborns and learn how to hold them. Live with the possibility for a few months.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:47 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nthing all the ambivalence is normal, and you will be into your baby. I'd add that being on the younger side of parenting is a really big benefit to the family if you still have the opportunity to make it happen. Our kids are 12 and 8 and we're not yet 40. Not only did we have more energy & time when they were really little and needed it the most, and not only will they be leaving the nest before we turn 50, but the biggest thing I'm noticing as they head into teenagerhood is that the generation gap between us and them is barely a thing.

My 6th grader has peers whose parents are 20 years older than us and some of them really struggle to parent in the world their kids are living in. Not at all to say that this is a universal issue, but you have an opportunity now to make your life as parents easier, and your life as older adults more free.

Put another way, assuming you're in a stable situation now, it's very likely if you wait that you'll wish you had done it sooner. It's very unlikely if you start your family now that you'll later wish you had waited longer.

And of course there will be days that you wish you hadn't done it at all. All big decisions carry that cost.

Go for it. Your 2034 selves will thank you for it.
posted by ulotrichous at 6:56 AM on January 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting....

Two things: one, you're going to have to go through an infancy stage if you want bio kids, so it seems like the real question is be bored through infancy now, or be bored through infancy later. In other words, you don't get to skip infancy by putting off having kids.

Second of all, not every parent ends up feeling different about their own infant than they do about infants in general, and that's okay. I love infants and I suck out loud at toddlers. Different people have different strengths and you and your wife may well find that one or the other of you is better equipped to step up to the plate at different stages.

Also, I just want to remind you that pregnancy is nine months for a reason. Deciding to have kids today doesn't mean you get a baby tomorrow. Looking down the road, if you'd be open to having a very very short person in your home in a year, now is the time to start trying.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:08 AM on January 15, 2014

If you put it off because of a reason like "babies are boring" then be ready for your wife to leave you one way or another. I can't tell you how many couples in my community are dealing with infertility issues in their 30s -- yes, plenty of people have babies just fine in their 30s, but a lot can't anymore, and that's a hell of thing to know you could have avoided just by getting started earlier. Your wife wants kids. Unless you really know you don't want them or won't be a good dad (in which case, divorce her quick so she can find someone who will) then go ahead. It will only get harder when you're older.

I don't mean to be harsh, but your reasons to delay are really kind of trivial compared to your wife's desire to have children, which I assume you were aware of when you married her.

Anecdote on the up side: even though I had a very difficult time when my first was born due to the changes it wrought in my life and marriage, my kids are now the best thing in my life and I'm amazed and inspired by them every day and feel really sorry for people who don't have them.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:15 AM on January 15, 2014

FWIW, it sounds like you're easing into the idea of having a baby which is reasonable. I don't think my husband and I were enthusiastic about the idea of having a kid when we first got married but it's an idea that has grown on us. I feel like we've circled in on the idea, progressing from maybe to maybe in the next 10 years to maybe in the next five years to probably within the next two years. And there's a lot of truth to the idea that babies are boring but your baby is fascinating.

People also talk about how you should spend time with kids and babies and babysit and stuff, which is probably true but doesn't sound realistic for my situation so my husband and I will just have to wing it at some point and it'll probably be fine.

We haven't had a kid so I can't speak from experience but I think it would be helpful to try to rid yourself of parenting expectations besides that it will probably be hard. I think I don't have many expectations at this point and I think that's a good position to be in because you really don't know what's going to happen.

On that note, it's great that you want your grandparents to meet the kid but things happen. My sister and I got married eight months apart and one of my grandparents was at my wedding but not at hers. If one of your grandparents passes away while your wife is pregnant or trying to conceive, you need to be able to roll with it. My future kids will never meet any of my grandparents. They might meet one of my husband's grandparents. My future kids will never meet my mother. Sometimes I feel cranky when friends post pictures on Facebook with their six generations of family members but it is what it is.

Similarly, if you and your wife want two kids, it's possible that the first pregnancy will be easier than the second but the opposite is also possible. She might have a wonderful pregnancy. She also might get gestational diabetes, morning sickness for months, who knows. She might have a hard time conceiving the first kid and a really easy time conceiving the second kid.

When my husband and I got engaged, I thought to myself, whatever it is, we'll figure it out and I want to figure it out with him. I'm a bit of a pessimist so I think about every horrible thing that can happen but at one point, I realized that I can't even conceive of every horrible thing that could happen, but with every horrible thing I could think of, I want my husband to help me figure it out. For me, that applies to parenthood. Because even if we can't fix it or figure it out, he'll make me laugh or smile or give me a hug and that works for me. If you think you want to have kids sometime and you have that kind of relationship with your wife, I think you should consider getting serious about it.
posted by kat518 at 7:31 AM on January 15, 2014

Sorry, another thought - I've seen parents say that parenting is about 51% "this is incredible, how could I ever live without this person in my life" and 49% "Jesus Christ, I haven't slept in 52 hours because this very small person won't stop screaming and there is human waste coating everything I own." Sometimes it's closer to 50/50, sometimes it's 51%/49% the other way but in general, that's how it evens out. YMMV.
posted by kat518 at 7:36 AM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I haven't read all the comments, so maybe someone else has made this point, but the only regret we have about becoming parents is that we didn't do it sooner. And when we did have our kid, we still didn't feel like we were ready. We were the world's most ambivalent parents-to-be. But yeah, in retrospect, it was like, why didn't we do this 10 years ago? Just go for it. It has seriously been the most fun, wild ride.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2014

Husband and I decided to start trying when we realized we wanted a kid by X point in our lives more than we didn't want a baby now.

Now that I'm pregnant, we're still not baby crazy (more like scared, anxious, overwhelmed all with a silver-lining of happy) but we are excited about the thought of what to do with our kid in a few years. Also, it helps that we have friends who have had babies and colleagues who will be having a kid near when we're expecting so we can build off each other's excitement.
posted by adorap0621 at 7:48 AM on January 15, 2014

All those pros you mention seem like this-can't-wait pros to me. Your cons all seem to be about inconvenience. If you're not willing to be inconvenienced for a while....there's a whole lot of life you're gonna miss out on.

Something else: being ready to have a baby is more about whether you are ready to take responsibility for another person. If you are not, your wife will have to do it on her own, and that breeds all kinds of resentment. Think about what kind of partner you want to be, not just what kind of father.

And if you decide to do the baby tango, before having kiddos, go on a babymoon to pack in some awesome experiences that take advantage of your current independence. Nothing wrong with that! Also, your life doesn't have to end after you have babies either. I have friends who regularly take pictures of themselves on hikes in the forest with baby on their back. If you treat your child as an addition to your life rather than a subtraction from your life, the possibilities are endless.

Happy considering!
posted by whimsicalnymph at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2014

Can't help noticing your 'for' reasons to seem to be mainly focused on what a baby can do for you...
posted by tanktop at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am a male who has a 7 month old son. I am in the perfect place to answer your questions. For males we don't get attached to the baby until about 2 months or so. 2 months is when the baby smiles back at you. when that happens the baby is not boring.

My son loves to be my sparing partner so to speek. he loves it when I punch his hands and feet very lightly. he giggles uncontrollably when I do it. I can make faces at him and tickle him. So babies get fun at around 3 months.

Yes it means less sleep but you do get used to it. I know you have heard this before. Its something you have to go through.

Also who said you cant go out? You cant go out until the baby gets their first round of shots but after that traveling with a baby is easy. we just flew to naples florida with our son. he slept the whole plane ride there and back. The only thing you cant do is go to loud bars and clubs. We bring our son to open mic nights at our local coffee place. we go out to dinner all the time with him . its better that you bring the baby along. it teaches them how to act in places like that. If you get a baby carrier that you can wear you can even go hiking with them.

You only lose the getting trashed at a bar part of your life. You can do ANYTHING else with a baby .

if you have any questions ask. As an active male with a 7 month old I am the perfect person to ask
posted by majortom1981 at 9:32 AM on January 15, 2014

Sure, babies are boring a lot of the time. So are people. It's less of an issue with the grown ones since they don't depend on you for everything. But putting up with the cruddy stuff is part of every human interaction, I think.

Personally I was ambivalent about becoming a parent. I saw appeal both ways and believed I could be happy either way. My wife was more motivated and our boy is 13 months old now.

Honestly I had no idea how much fun so much of it would be. Even some of the shitty (hah) stuff. Some of that certainly is the brainwashing effect of sleep disruption, but so what? Feels the same. I love this kid and he's more fun than he is misery. Some of that is the bonding, some the amusement of seeing new experiences though his eyes, some the absolutely batshit things kids do as they grow up (what I call the 'science experiment' part), etc.

I think the really boring stuff is the early months; probably they don't get interesting (vs adorable) till 3, 4 months? But on the other hand that's the stage where (assuming you don't have a colicky kid) they sleep all the time and are least disruptive. You can go most anywhere with them in a sling or carrier; my wife calls it the "cute luggage" stage.

Do what you want to do, but as far as you liking your life now? It's going to change regardless. You'll get older, richer, poorer, bored with some things and more interested in others. And if you start now the traditional way you'll have lead-up time before the change.

My life is different now in many ways, some better, some worse, almost always more complicated. I'm glad we did it.
posted by phearlez at 9:52 AM on January 15, 2014

Advantages to having kids young: Your body can take the late nights (and more late nights) much better, you bounce back faster. You'll have energy for all the activities that arise, space for the stuff. You'll be younger when they move out, able to have a third act better.

Advantages to having kids older: Your career is better established, you're less likely to be throwing off your most productive era, you might have some savings. You are more self-confident about your life choices, get less overwhelmed with insecurity about all the choices and unknowns of parenthood, can resist unwanted advice better.

There's no right answer. Kids are a serious wrench. In the abstract, I don't think I'd do it again, knowing what i was getting into. In the specific, my kid is great, and I'd be sad to miss all the phases of watching her develop into a big person. There must be a reason that sex is so much fun and we often get into these things without full information! :)

Good luck.
posted by acm at 10:00 AM on January 15, 2014

My husband was the type of person who, if he walked into a restaurant or onto a plane with a young child present, he would immediately want to be as far away from that child as possible. He absolutely has no interest in playing with random children, making faces at them, and finds their activities and exclamations to be annoying rather than cute. However, we both knew that he would be great with his own child, despite his difficulties dealing with the children of others. I had to push him along into the baby making process, and thank goodness I did, because we dealt with infertility despite me being in my early 30s, and it took 2 years to get from beginning to baby.

Now we have an 11 month old. I have to say, she was fascinating and wonderful from day 1. No, from moment 1. I am filled with the warmest and fuzziest of warm and fuzzy emotions every time I think of the moment I met my baby. My husband cried. (shh, internet, don't tell anyone I told you that!) I won't say he was as enamored of her as I was from the beginning - he doesn't fare well with sleep deprivation, and he is terrified of diapers and their contents - but he definitely started connecting with her around 3-4 months, and nowadays, she toddles to him shouting "da da da!" and he smiles so big it lights up the room - and I hear him laughing like I haven't heard him laugh in years when he plays with her. So never fear, it doesn't take a year for a baby to be interesting, not nearly! And honestly, I think back to the early months (as I have been quite a bit lately with her birthday approaching) and I think "good lord, that was so hard!" but reading my journals from the time, you'd never know, as I was just gushing about how wonderful and precious she was and how much I enjoyed even the hard parts of caring for her.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:40 AM on January 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ok As it's been largely ignored so far.

It doesn't always turn out well. It Doesn't.

I love my daughter, and being a stay at home dad, but it's what I've always wanted. I have friends who straight up hate their children. They sort of coasted into babyhood because their partner wanted to, or they 'felt it was time' or because their family wanted grand-kids.

These people are not good parents. They will not become good parents. Because kids ruin your life... if you love them: they ruin it in a perfect way... if you didn't really want them: then it's just ruined.
posted by French Fry at 12:03 PM on January 15, 2014 [14 favorites]

I feel like I should be excited for kids (scared and excited, maybe, but excited nonetheless), when I really just feel indifference.

I think that if you do get kids you'll be a lot happier and able to weather the storms if you can give up the idea of what you should be feeling. Parenthood is full of things you should not be feeling (like the desire to throw them out of the window, perhaps the jealousy of the other parent, the being too lazy to do anything but plonk them infront of the tv etc.) it's important to take things as they come with few preconceptions, and a lot of patience and love for yourself and your kids.

Similarly, I think you need to let go of the idea of being able to think yourself through the experience with our help. You can't prepare for this.

Parenthood is a fucking huge adventure that you can't prepare for. It's going to lead you to new places. they will be amazing, whether you are excited about it now or not.

However, yes. You will have little free time and no spontaneous free time for a year or so. You will need to figure out what is important to you in life (like sports, poker night or whatever) and then find a way with your wife to fit it in.

The important stuff will stay in your life, the coincidental night out not so much.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2014

FWIW I have always got on ok with little kids but had no truck with babies. I viewed them as flesh sausages that sucked stuff in one end and spat it out the other while rolling round, like sea cucumbers.

After we had our baby, though, there was an absolute, binary switch that got flipped in my head and I am physically incapable of passing a child under, I dunno, six without an indulgent smile. So these things can change.

Having a child is surprisingly entertaining, the yucky bits like poo and vomit etc (for me anyway) are not as big an issue as I thought they would be and it only gets more entertaining to have a little you kicking around the world as it goes on.

But if you have lots of absorbing activities that take lots of time you will probably have to give them up for a few years.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:32 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

1. Babies are boring. Kids can be fun! But babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting.

3 week old father here. This is definitely true - love my son, but he just doesn't give much back at first. The progression sure is interesting tho and I can see how things are going to improve quickly once we get to a more interactive stage.

It's like, wanting to be good at something, but not wanting to practice. It's not realistic. You have to practice anything before it gets fun.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 1:36 PM on January 15, 2014

I don't know... Sometimes ambivalence or indifference very quickly turns into regret and resentment after you get the high needs baby with a health problem or developmental problem instead of the boring baby.
At least it did for my ex husband who I'm no longer with due to the above.
Make sure you're 100% prepared for that possibility.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 3:33 PM on January 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

1. Babies are boring. Kids can be fun! But babies are boring, and I don't find them all that cute. It seems like you have to live with this for a year until they slowly start to be somewhat interesting.

This was my husband's POV before our son was born and kind of the first year of his life. He wanted kids "sometime" and we agreed or get pregnant when we did so that I, the pregnant lady, could do so younger rather than older.

I'm now pregnant with our second child and the difference is incredible. I couldn't get my husband to touch my belly or feel the baby move really AT ALL first time around. It was all so abstract to him. This time, I'm barely 20wks (5mos, just hit the half way point) and he's grabbing my belly all the time and putting his face up to it saying "HELLO BABY WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE." I commented on this - his response: "the first time it was an alien, this time it's a BABY."

My point being that it's gonna be kind of abstract until the kid gets here and yeah, they're kinda floppy for a while... but it's YOUR floppy human and you have no idea what that's like until you experience it. There's never a perfect time for kids, but it sounds like this is a *good* time for you and your partner to welcome a floppy alien into your lives.

Another argument for starting sooner rather than later: you never know until you start trying how long it will take to get pregnant. If you can't get pregnant or need fertility treatments, these are better things to find out when you're 30 and not 35 or 38.
posted by sonika at 3:50 PM on January 15, 2014

I love little babies, but my biggest dislike about parenting a child/toddler is the lack of quietness. I mean, I had a non-screamer baby obviously, but I treasured those moments where it was just me and her and the chair, or the cafe, and we just were together. I know my partner did too, when she'd fall asleep with her little baby fingers tangled in his beard.

There's NOTHING at all a child 'does' for you that makes up for the disruption - that's an awkwardly weird way to look at it. They aren't there to entertain you, or play with you. That kind of desire makes everything a lot harder I think - you have to meet each child where they are and how they are. Delete all that 'vicarious childhood' bullshit and think about the baby, the child, as a person and the enormous potential they embody.

Then work out if you're up for that.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:05 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

You should not have kids early so your grandparents can meet them. You should not have kids early because you want to be young when you have them. You should not have kids early for someone else. You should live the life you want to live before you have kids, because you will stop your life in many ways when they are born.

I love my son, but despite loving the crap out of him, I still think babies are boring, because they totally totally are. I'm incredibly glad that I lived my life to the fullest before having a baby in my 30s. I let myself grow up at my own pace, and I feel like I'm able to come into parenthood a better, more patient, more emotionally whole person. YMMV, but I wouldn't rush it.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:54 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Set a date.

Not now, but at some point in the not-too late future. The time between now and then is for you to get used to the idea.
Once you have a date, it will all seem a lot more real.

I realised for life clock reasons, when I will have to try for a kid. Then started realising all the other things I wanted to do first. It's been really motivating, I'm planning a trip to Europe etc. I now have a friend I discuss it with, and just... making plans? Makes it all more real.
Like, what languages would be best to teach a kid? Which ones would be easiest to learn, given the resources in my town? (Maybe I should learn something using duolinguo?)

Babies are absolutely fascinating science experiments. Watch them getting the arm and hand pincer motion down, like they're using a crane. Narrate your scientific observations to them! Be amused as they clearly think "this means I'm People now!" as they grab some kind of totemic symbol of grown-status, such as a metal utensil or a cup, at 5 months. Or as you watch them grasp basic logic as an infant. Much easier to train than pets.
posted by Elysum at 8:08 PM on January 15, 2014

Nthing BlueJae. I was ambivalent before having kids about what it would be like, and wondered whether the drudgery would be worth it. I can now say it has definitely been worth it. It has been especially amazing to watch my daughters experience everything for the first time.

Example: I live in a mild Mediterranean climate where it only rains during the winter. My first daughter was born in the fall so she didn't really notice rain as a newborn/infant. But the next year, as a 1 year old, we were at an outdoor mall when we got caught in the first rainstorm of the season - the first rain in her memory. I huddled under an overhang, thinking "ugh, it's raining, what bad luck". She, on the other hand was beside herself with joy to see WATER, one of her favorite things to play with in the bath or in a fountain, pouring from the heavens and covering everything. It was like she couldn't believe her good fortune to have this amazing substance coming down from the sky just for her to play with - she jumped around, splashed in puddles, opened her mouth to catch raindrops to drink - she got completely soaked and was having the time of her life. It sounds trite and ridiculous, but as an adult I had come to view rain as an annoyance and had completely forgotten that it could be seen differently. You really do get to re-experience things through your children as if for the first time.
posted by Mallenroh at 10:28 PM on January 15, 2014

You have the standard boring set of worries that pretty much every couple has.

Here's how it will play out: she's going to have that kid because she really needs to, and you are going to go along with it because you love her and you'd feel like an asshole for life if you said no. The longer you wait, the higher the health risks for her and the baby, etc. It's not a question of whether you're going to do it. You're just going to find yourself being a parent very soon. Probably next year. You're ready.

You'll get used to it and actually start to like it as the kid gets older and starts to interact with you as a real human who can talk with you about stuff and play games you actually like and love you. And we'll always be here like unidentified secret agents smoking invisibly in the shadows of a dark parking garage at midnight. Ask us anything.
posted by pracowity at 2:38 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

"...all of a sudden you won't have a wife in the house any more; you'll have a mother instead. You will feel dumped, and that will hurt."

This is the truest possible description of my experience as a father who was ambivalent about having children. It didn't really happen to me until the birth of our second child, but when it did... I was devastated.

I lost my partner in crime, my co-conspirator and my soulmate. I quickly found myself the junior employee in our child-raising business. 10 years later, I finally asked for a divorce, because it's easier to be lonely by myself than to be lonely while laying in bed next to some stranger that looks like the woman I fell in love with, but isn't.


Having children you aren't ready for is pretty much the human condition (as lots of people have said above), and children are fantastic. I love my children with all of my heart and soul, and would do anything for them. But... they cost me a lot, and I still wonder if the ride is worth what I paid for it.
posted by The Blue Olly at 5:59 AM on January 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

I assure you that babies don't have to be boring and I think many of you are doing this wrong. I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty.

I started talking to Boy before he was born. I'd cup my hands over Ms. Yucks tummy and shout "Hello in there!" If I came to bed late, he'd hurl himself (and his mom) towards me. We played poky games when he was still inside. Return the Gift by Gang of Four had just come out and he really reacted to the bass lines.

The first thing I said to him when he was born was "Hello in there!" His little jaw dropped. Two days later we were on the way home and I put the aforementioned album on and he started kicking.

He wasn't terribly into me for a couple weeks (no boobs) until Ms. Yuck left us alone with a bottle of pumped milk. Eyes widened at the first sip. He was shocked, shocked I tell you. Then I gave him a bath in the kitchen sink and he started to see that he had two parents.

When he'd cry for no apparent reason, I'd put him on a pillow, raise the pillow a few feet above the bed and drop him. It always worked. Another thing that worked was running back and forth down a long hallway, holding him like he was Superman. Or taking him out to sit on the porch and look at the streetlight. Whistling was pretty good too.

I was in a position where I could take him to my store and put him in a basket right next to the cash register. He just watched everything, perfectly content. I realize that is not a luxury many of you have.

He sings I Love a Man in a Uniform in the tub now and enjoys being hurled onto the bed.

Babies get bored. Don't get bored with them and don't underestimate them. It's your job to fascinate them. And not with stuff you buy.

The other thing I want to say about parenthood is that it suddenly creates a bond with complete strangers. You suddenly have a commonality with every one who's had kids. It's much more interesting than chatting about the weather.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:50 AM on January 16, 2014 [5 favorites]

One other thing - the families that are happiest* in my circle are the ones who approach parenting as teamwork. There's no 'daddy gets dumped cos mummy has a baby' business - what it is, is a transition space of duties. Mama has a lot on her plate (society being what it is, some is fair and some is not, but it's still all on her plate) and Da needs to do more work to get that work, or he's gonna be liable to check out and she's gonna be liable to shoulder it all, with very obvious ill-effects on most relationships. It can be very easy to slip into a state where you don't do what you need to do to maintain the partnership/team aspect of the family unit.

It's not just about ambivalence, but also about how you approach the change.

Even the super egalitarian, the super conservative, all have that in common. I've got a few friends who are quite conservative in those family choices (Mama stays home til babies go to school and depending on financial state, part-time work) and it's still happier where that's part of a conscious choice about being a partnership than where Da goes "huff, she wanted kids, I just make money". Da isn't helping Mama by working - Da is serving the financial needs of the Family while Mama is doing the day-to-day work of the Family, and they share the emotional load where possible. Same with egalitarian families I know, it's not about 'help' or anything like that, it's about being a team.

Everyone has periods of fighting, of loneliness, of discord, but the duration and the management of that is about your partnership - not just about kids/no kids.

*Relative term, obviously, since not all of my friends are partnered with kids, at the same stage of family life, or talk to me. But those that do are in my very small sample.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:45 PM on January 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

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