A consequence of spending time with an abundance of 30-somethings is experiencing an instant chatter about small children. Before I get into it, here are some basic facts about me:
1. I’m 26 and married. Around here, that means babies are expected around the corner.
2. I’ve never had much of a maternal instinct. I wasn’t good with kids as a kid, and it didn’t improve with age.
3. I’m sure that if I decide to have children, that I’ll love them more than anything. I do not, however, think you plan on kids unless it’s what you want most and you’re ready to dedicate your life to it. Neither my husband nor I are there right now, though we recognize we may be one day.
That being said, this post is not about the following:
1. Pushing a “childfree and proud” agenda. I’ve never understood the need to shout about one’s desire not to have kids like it’s a civil rights issue – well, except in the cases where it is a civil rights issue, but I’m in the United States. I can legally pop them out until I die if I want. This is more of a “chill out, it’s okay that I have a puppy and am not interested in kids right now,” post.
2. It’s also not a “my pets are my babies” post. While I might be a little too into my cats at times, I am fully aware that raising cats and dogs is not equatable to raising a small human being.
Keeping that in mind, you can understand that I hear a lot of comments about kids, as well as questions about when I’ll be having them myself. Being surrounded by those 30-somethings, I often hear one of two things:
– and –
Sometimes both comments will be directed toward me by the same person in a single day. Sometimes I prompt the comment (“Wow, that’s a busy Saturday.” “You’ll understand when you have kids.”). Sometimes, like one of the more recent events, it happens despite a conscious effort to avoid it.
If you saw my recent post, you know that a puppy recently made his way into our home. We’d been planning on getting a puppy once our two cats had settled in, and we fell in love with Watson last week. He’s made immense progress in the week and a half since we got him, but at 9 weeks old he’s far from fully trained. I’m incredibly proud of our little doctor (get it? the cats are named from Doctor Who, and he’s Doctor Watson? *crickets* No? Fine…), and how well he’s handling nights already. Those first two that he spent in our home were full of heartbreaking puppy cries.
They hurt my heart. Apparently the maternal instinct that makes women women wake when they hear a high-pitched sound – the better for attending to babies – is indeed alive and well in me (no one tell my mother-in-law that I found a maternal instinct, ‘kay?), because I barely slept those nights.
As a result, I didn’t look fantastic last Friday. Don’t get me wrong – I showered, dressed nicely, did my hair and makeup. My eyes, however, still showed the faintest signs of darkness beneath them.
“You look tired. You feeling okay?”
“Yeah. We got a new puppy, and I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep.”
“Oh, never have kids.”.
Now, I was sleep-deprived and irritable, so I wanted to reply:
“Absolutely not. I know that it’s inappropriate and even offense to be tired if you’ve never experienced a newborn. I’ll go ahead and schedule an appointment to have my uterus yanked out.”
Thankfully, I had enough mental stability to instead bite my tongue, and reply with an amused laugh. I’d deliberately avoided mentioning the puppy until this point because I wanted to avoid comments about him preparing me for kids. I wasn’t looking for sympathy with my comment, rather I was responding to concern with an honest and short answer.
No, puppies are not newborns, but he’s been a lot of my last couple of weeks. Training take time and patience. There’s a reason I’m typing this post a full 8 days after the incident I listed.
I’m allowed to be tired if I don’t have kids. No, I have not made the choice to have children. If you have, please know that I think you’re doing a great thing. I know that it’s difficult to get up in the mornings and put on that smiling face when you really just want to go to bed, and I appreciate that I’ve never experienced that sort of exhaustion. But please, know that I’m still capable of being a little tired. I’m sure you were tired before you had kids. Did you go to college? Surely you must have put off a paper until the last night at least once, and experienced a sluggish next day. No, it’s not the exhaustion that comes in early parenting, but I’m sure you muttered “ugh I’m tired” at least one point in that day.
The parents I know who have kids who are fully out of the toddler/scared 5 year-old/kid sleeps in their bed at night phase don’t say things like this to me. It’s the ones with the small children who do. I wonder if they’ll look back and realize that not every moment of every life is directly related to children.
Maybe that’s the phase of their life that they’re in, but it’s okay that I’m not there with them.