Mrs. Frugalwoods recently admitted that she’s nervous about becoming a mom, but she’s learning to accept we’re all flawed. This kind of thing strikes a chord with me and I had to talk about it. First off, let me just say:
No one should EVER say “It’s so great. Enjoy every minute” to someone with children.
Don’t stop reading if you don’t have kids. This post is for you too. I want to talk about the logistics of having children. As a stay-at-home mom, I am a “professional” in the field. So please listen up.
Why Kids Are the Worst:
Not enough parents out there are comfortable admitting that sometimes they are sitting at home, covered in spit up, completely exhausted thinking “I must be doing something wrong because I don’t love every minute of this.” Imagine your dream job. The absolute greatest job on the planet. Do you think you would enjoy EVERY SINGLE MINUTE? No. There would be really crappy moments. There are always really crappy moments. But for some reason, we’ve decided that if you’re going to be a parent, you better darn well LOVE it. ALL THE TIME. (Sorry, I’m yelling again.)
Mr. T and I had Penny when we were both in school and working. On Mr. T’s graduation day, we went to the ceremony and then he had to race off to work. I took Penny home and within an hour of being home, I ended up absolutely covered in poop that had managed to blast out of her diaper and pants. I sat there, covered in poop, completely helpless. I had to call Mr. T to come home because it was everywhere and I didn’t even know how to start (bless you single parents out there… I know that I have NO IDEA what that is like. I don’t pretend to). When Mr. T got home, Penny and I were both in the bathtub crying.
Any new job is hard. No one expects you do know what you are doing in the first few weeks/month of your new job. That’s why there is training. If you’re dealing with software, your company’s program is unlike any other, so someone has to teach you how to use it. You can have a solid understanding of software and still need to be trained on a specific program. That’s expected.
When you have a baby, your baby is unlike any other, but there is no training. You can read all the books and be a general baby expert, but still have no clue how to navigate your “model” of baby. There is no one that CAN train you because this version is untested. Your job is to figure it out. This is a high stress situation and you’ll have to navigate it mostly alone. And the stakes are high. Because this is a baby we’re talking about, it can literally be a life and death situation.
We’re terrible at admitting all of this out loud, so parents feel inadequate. They think maybe they are the only ones that don’t love every minute of their job. They think they’re the only ones that don’t have a clue what they’re doing. As a society, we make up for that by buying stuff. If we can get the safest car seat, crib, bouncer, swing, bassinet, baby wrap, bottles, toys, etc. then we can be the best parents out there.
Why Kids Are the Best
Yes, parenting is the hardest job out there (in my opinion), but the benefits are large. Eventually, you figure out the basics of your “model” of child. Sure, it still gets viruses (literal and figurative) and sometimes stops working (which happens in a much more dramatic and loud way than a software program), but your kid loves you. You are needed in a way that you will never be needed in any other job. And you are loved in a way that goes beyond any employment as well. There are moments when you are so floored by your child’s ability to love you that it is inexpressible. And you learn so much about yourself and your ability to love as a parent. I make better choices because of my children. I want them to see that education, health, travel, giving, and gratitude are important. So I have to learn those principles and show them by what I do that these are priorities for me. I want my girls to be confident, brave, ambitious, and comfortable with their bodies. If I’m not, they won’t be. Being a parent is refining. It is fulfilling, enlightening, expanding, and awesome (both awe-inspiring and just plain cool).
If you don’t have a kid, these payoffs seem like something we parents say to make up for those moments you may have witnessed when we’re covered in poop and crying. Let me assure you that these benefits are real and the quiet, amazing moments experienced are beyond anything I ever experienced before becoming a mom.
I recently came across a big financial break down of whether you should have kids in your 20s or 30s and I thought “who cares? because once you have a kid, everything about them leaves the paper anyway.” That being said, kids can also be a great influence on finances, but because you are the primary “programmer,” they can also be terrible influences. It all depends on how they’ve been taught. But children are born forgiving, loving, curious, and frugal. They don’t care what brand of onesie they’ve got on. They’re going to get baby food all over it no matter how much you paid. And their favorite toy is going to be the tag or the box. The toy itself will be ignored. Or worse: make them cry every time. They don’t need stuff.
Older kids learn how the world works. They know things in stores have to be acquired through some sort of trade of cash or a swipe of a magic card. Unless they are taught otherwise, they probably think everything is attainable quickly and easily and there is an endless supply of money or credit.
I don’t know what I’m doing in this whole parenting thing. I’ll be the first one to admit it. But I’ll also be the first one to admit that you won’t know any better than I do. These are my kids and I’ve paid the price. I know I’m messing up. But I also know I’m doing a great job. (If you are a parent and you can’t admit both of these things, get there. Give yourself grace.)
Recently, our family left a friends’ house. It is a gigantic house with amazing views. As we left, I was worried about all the things my kids would be thinking (they have a bouncy house in their basement!). When we got into the car, my oldest said “I like our house. Think how many chores those guys have to do!” And Mr. T and I gave each other mental high fives. We’re winning at this.