how to recognize one is not yet ready to be a parent

Sometimes (rather more frequently lately, now that he’s teaching 1st graders, who I guess are cute or something), F brings up the logistics of having children of our own. Tis raises questions of who will, well, raise them (since neither of us has time to). He perceives that he “needs” a job to “survive,” and I’m afraid I’m the kind of person who would really not be happy at all without a job outside the home (I was self-employed for a total of two months, and found an excuse to not be in my house the majority of every day. Plus I love my current job).

All right, neither of us will stay home, and besides we can’t really afford to live on one income. Which also rules out professional babysitters, day-cares, or preschools, since in New York those easily cost more than an adult’s salary. Which basically leaves the time-honored tradition of leaving your child with your relatives. You know, like how my parents left me with my mom’s mom and aunt so she could go back to teaching. It was a peachy arrangement, until my father learned the Ladies were managing me by keeping me drunk. Wine and 7up! What Italian baby isn’t weened on wine and 7up? My dad, all close-minded and culturally insensitive, had a problem with this. “But the baby WANTS the wine,” the Ladies argued convincingly. Anyway, different story.

Alas my parents are far away. “My mom could move in,” I suggested. We both laughed. That was funny. F suggested his dad. “No way,” I said. The kid would grow up spoiled rotten and obsessed with clothes shopping–traits I am NOT equipped to handle.

We systematically rules out all our siblings until F came to my brother. “He’d be perfect!” F exclaimed. “It’s not like he’d have anything better to do!” They could spend their afternoons playing a game called “Drinking Beer with Uncle Jeff”:

This little piggy smoked a pack of Camels
This little piggy shot some pool
This little piggy had a minimum-wage menial job
This little piggy had none
And this little piggy went “wee wee wee” all the way home to his mom, who still paid his rent

Thanks, F. A fascinating suggestion.

Ultimately, I guess the only person I want brainwashing my nonexistent future child is me, thank you very much. Which means we’ll be putting this all off until we have fantastic amounts of money. Ie possibly forever.

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4 Responses to how to recognize one is not yet ready to be a parent

  1. This is such a complicated issue but I’m glad you and F are discussing it rather than assuming that you would be the one to raise “it.” Putting that aside for a moment, I just want to point how hilarious this was:

    “My mom could move in,” I suggested. We both laughed. That was funny.

    • Yeah, I gather from watching a lot of my friends achieve this, um, moment that many (most?) couples assume the female partner will be the one to stay home. In this as in many things I am reminded that F and I pretty much invert all gender roles, ever. We both grew up in families with partially inverted gender roles–I mean, if we’re going to take the heterosexual working husband and stay-at-home wife as the roles of choice. On my end, both my parents worked; they pretty equally split cooking and cleaning (I come from a fine line of women who have found men to cook for them–my mother and both my grandmothers have also been such successful women). F, meanwhile, spent his childhood with a stay-at-home mom, but she left when he was in junior high and he lived with his father and his father’s (male) partner afterwards–I think he had some serious reinforcement from his dad re: “you never know when you’re going to find yourself alone, so you need to be able to take care of yourself and everyone else in your family.” Which is lucky for me, because there are a lot of things I can’t be bothered to take care of.

      And among other (supposed?) gender role inversions, he’s definitely the one who does better with kids (hence the elementary school teaching). It just seems to me that if one of us were to give up their income to stay home, he would make sense for several reasons (uh, that caretaking thing, also my career-trackmindedness, etc). Don’t get me wrong–having some time to recover/nurse/bond seems ideal. But I’m pretty sure that of the two of us he would be the better, more nurturing caretaker.

  2. LindaSW says:

    Better to discuss it now than after the fact 😉

    It can be done. And it’s okay to get help raising your children while you pursue your work, because the best thing you can do for your children is to be happy. And frankly, I know a lot more unhappy stay-at-home parents than unhappy working parents. But of those parents who have kids, the thing that makes it all work is if the parent is happy where s/he is.

    Sure, it is stressful to balance the family, the spouse, the work, the passion (if not equal to work, which mine often is not), but it is awfully exciting to wake up every morning and not know what the hell awaits you. Sure beats sitting on the line canning salmon.

    On the other hand, I have to wake up at 5 to get in an hour of solitude. And I don’t get to lounge around with my books, newspapers, and lattes as I did pre-kiddos. I love my life, I think it;s balanced, but the folks I know who really succeed in academia and writing (my two passions) are pretty much unencumbered.

    Knowing all this would not have changed my mind to have kids, but it might have altered my expectations of ‘success’. I might have given myself more slack.

    You and F will figure out what works for you. Meanwhile, enjoy the downtime! Peace…

    • Haha you have a lot of faith in us and our abilities! I hope we deserve it.

      My boss is a single mother of two who also runs a company and is herself a writer. She’s kind of a role model of mine at the minute. I’m just not sure how I’d ever do the same, even with her resources, which are slightly different from mine. But I guess it can be done.

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