Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Being a Parent Sucks

Being a parent sucks. I know that's not news to those of you that are and it's not something you've never heard before but it does.

Of course, it sucks because there are late nights with infants and/or sick kids. It sucks because they require a chunk of your cash flow for clothes, food, toys. It sucks because you have to feed them on a regular basis whether you're hungry or not. But, you knew all this already.

The thing is, there's one way that being a parent sucks, that I'm not sure many people both non-parents and parents alike don't even realize. It sucks because it is a sacrifice.

No longer do you just get to worry about your schedule and your plans. Now you have to worry about someone else's. That's right, that kid you have (or will one day have) is a person too. They have plans and schedules. To be the best kind of parent, you have to respect that.

Sure, you had plans to head to Target in the afternoon to get some needed supplies. Your toddler, on the other hand, had plans to drive cars around on the carpet. Yes, you could just say "screw it" and gather him up kicking and screaming and force him to bend to your will and your plans. That sounds like a blast! Or, you could respect your child as a person. Discuss with him the need to go to Target, and find out what he would like to look at at Target. You could also negotiate with them. "Mommy needs to go to Target. I understand you want to play cars. Let's go to Target quick and then when we get home, Mommy will play cars with you until supper time." Then, and this is important, you HAVE to keep your side of the deal. If you don't, you'll be screwed in the future.

I know, you're skeptical. Your toddler simply screams "NO!" and resumes what he was doing. Yep, it happens from time to time. That's when being a parent really sucks because, you know what, YOU the parent will be better off being the flexible one. That doesn't mean that all is lost. Instead, play cars with your kiddo. Give him at least 20 minutes, but while you're playing cars say things like, "After we're done playing cars, we'll need to get our coats on and go to Target." I know this messes up your entire schedule. You'd hoped to be done with Target by 5 so you could make supper by 5:30. It does, but remember: Being a parent sucks.

I share all this to enlighten you. No, this isn't to enlighten you in how to be a parent. I'm not so conceited as to think I'm an expert at it. Instead, this is my way of explaining why having a second one is not in the works for us. Adding a second would mean yielding to yet another person's plans and schedules.

As it is now, I feel like there's very little time for my agenda. I'm not yet ready to sacrifice to accommodate another's schedule. I'm just getting the hang of the triple blend.

So readers, since I know so many of you have more than one kiddo. What convinced you that you wanted more? Was there a defining moment? Did you have any specific age gap you were shooting for?

Let me know because, honestly, I always thought I'd have four or five, but one is looking pretty good to us right now.

I shouldn't have to say this but my guilty conscience feels the need. Despite my exclamations that parenting sucks, I love my kid... ah, you know the rest.


Jo from Dixie said...

Abby, you are perfectly normal in feeling this way. Yes, it does sometimes stink being a parent...and more importantly, a Momma. We are really the ones that sacrifice the most. For us, adding more children was more like we didn't feel complete yet. A friend once told me that we'd know when we were dont having children, and she was right. Now that we have three, we certainly feel done and I no longer have that baby fever I once felt every time I held or saw a newborn. Give it time, after all you went through to have Linus I can certainly understand why you might choose to be finished having kids. They are a sacrifice in many more ways than one.

corrie said...

For us, we always knew we wanted to have at least two, so that each could have the gift of a sibling. I am very close with my sister (though not as much growing up, as we are nearly 6 years apart), and I felt I wanted my child to have that connection with someone. Not that a quality relationship is a guarantee; I certainly know people who are not at all close with their sibling(s). But just having a sibling kind of shapes a child's development, I think, it positive ways. And, to some extent, I felt I wouldn't want to burden one child with issues like aging/ailing parents. Again, no guarantees that either child would feel any obligation to their parents later in life, and I certainly don't want to be a "burden," but having dealt with parental health issues myself, I'm glad to have a sister to lean on. So I guess, even though we apparently have very tough babies, I try to look ahead to the long term, and what I picture when our family is older. I look forward to camping, traveling -- all kinds of things that will be a lot easier once we are past the baby/toddler stage. This stage is very hard for me, but I remind myself it will not last forever.

Now, when it comes to considering a third, we are still up in the air, but leaning away from it. Again, when I look at the long term, I have to consider how our financial resources would be divided among three instead of two. And our attention, too. I really value being able to spend one-on-one time with Lily, and even baby Liam, too. Having a third would just make it that much more challenging for me to spend time with each child individually. Also, I think Bill and I are really ready to move to that next stage of school age kids and the increased freedom that stage will allow, in a lot of ways. To not have a child in physical contact with me the majority of the day sounds like freedom, at this point.

Our plan was to have kids about 3 years, or a little more, apart. We just got lucky a little early. I thought that would allow the kids to be playmates, while still allowing us the option of a third without my being too far into the "high risk" category.

I guess everyone has their comfort zone. Sometimes I think that, since I have had such uncomplicated pregnancies, relatively easy deliveries, and gorgeous babies (if I do say so myself!), that we should just go for it again. But then I think about what challenging babies we seem to have, and I am scared to do it again! It's hard to look ahead to 5 years from now, 10, 20, when you are embroiled in the day-to-day challenges of a high-needs newborn and spirited toddler. I think that we will definitely either feel led to have a third or led to stop at two. It's just too soon to decide right now.

Susie said...

Oh Abby, as a mom of three I feel like I should respond. First - You are absolutely right!!!! It's such a hard lesson to learn but those people have their own needs and the sooner a parent lets that go - the happier everyone is. So you put off the trip to Target and build a better memory. Secondly, adding another child to the mix certainly stirs it up. For one thing, now that number one child has to learn how to respect a sibling's needs from nursing times to nap times. It is hard, yes. But a gift as well.
I had a friend once say (and this just sums it up nicely), "I'm having a hard time having a life when this is my life." Yes indeed.
The decision to have more than one was not so much a decision as fate. I liked the idea of having more but with one - our lives felt so full and perfect. It was hard to imagine it being different. But babies often keep their own schedules and when I discovered I was pregnant the second time - it just felt like the right thing. After I threw up from shock, of course. Third pregnancy - I don't even remember having sex for that one. Don't know how he happened.

Nan Lujan said...

I think for us having two was always part of the plan... We wanted them to be 2-3 years apart because we wanted them to have the opportunity to play together and have some things in common in terms of their stages in life.

My mom and my sister-in-law are both only children and I've seen them struggle with ailing parents, and that's been really hard.

I guess ultimately you need to visualize your life five, ten, fifteen, twenty years from now and see what you see. It's really a personal decision. For me there was no doubt, fear yes, but doubt no... It's just what I've always envisioned.

Chelsea + Jonathan said...

I'm thinking there has to be a suspension of memory somewhere, because from where I stand right now I'm not sure when I'd want to sign up for being pregnant again. And I know you didn't have an easy pregnancy with L. And then the baby still has to come out... and I hear that's you know a little painful or something like that? ;) I guess at some point I'll either feel the urge to do this again or not. Either way it'll be alright.

Myguy said...

As a Father, I would agree with the word Sacrifice.

It's almost like patriotism, you're not allowed to go against the grain.

I try to explain to non-parents how much of your 'free time' you will lose. "Well you chose to be a parent" is the respose if you moan too much. I then tell them someone has to do it otherwise they wouldn't be here either.

But despite how time consuming it can be, sometimes I stare at him while he's on the Wii or watching telly and realise he's the most amazing thing in this world.

Miche said...

Oh don't worry-yesterday parenting REALLY sucked-nothing I needed to do got done :) lol!

For us, having a second seemed natural, since both of us have siblings, but I think the main factor for me was seeing AJ play alone and it made me reflect on playing with my sisters and how great it was-and reflect on how much I learned from having to negotiate with them for toys :) lol

But, honestly, we are debating having a third, and though I want another baby super bad, I am rather nervous for 3 little people in the house :) hahaha!

I'm excited to see you this afternoon! I guess we will just meed at the front? See you around 2, yay!

Kelly Jernigan said...

I always knew I wanted more than one, coming from a family of 3 kids, but my husband was an only child. What finally changed his mind was coming off of a weeks vacation at the beach with my sister & her two kids - to see her two kids (3 1/2 years apart) & Wyatt be so self sufficient playing together & having so much fun, it almost seemed like something we wanted & needed to do for our son. Now, I am not naive - I know two will be hard work, but I also know that having a built in playmate down the road might make a little more time for ME on occassion, even if it is just to fold the laundry in peace :)

Someone else on here said it best when they mentioned looking long term & down the road - focusing on the baby/toddler stage could make it seem a bit more daunting. You will figure out what is best for your family, I have no doubt!!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

We had another because we were ready to give T a sibling. We had a third because we hadn't decided whether we were full of kids yet or not. Turns out D's sperm was faster than our debating skills...
Two kids eventually entertain each other pretty well. I have friends who quit at one who wish now they'd have had two--but when the oldest is 6, it's too late to provide a playmate.
I bend my kids to my will pretty liberally, but I recall well how strong-willed two-year-olds are.

Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

Since my second is about to wake up (again), I'll keep it short.

I wanted more than one because I wanted them to have each other as siblings.

We spaced them as we did because we are old and had to get on with it.

Everyone is different though, and Linus will be just fine with whatever you decide. <3

Heidi said...


I think (and this is just my opinion) that it becomes a harder question to answer when (like you & I) conception/pregnancy/delivery is difficult. It's no longer just a question of wanting a second child and all that comes with it (both the joys and the hardships). It becomes a question of whether or not it's even possible (and if you're up for the emotional rollercoaster that may cause), whether or not it's financially feasible, whether or not it is putting your health at risk.

Drew & I have always known we wanted more than one child. In fact, maybe even more so now. I adore my siblings. There are 5 years between each of us so we weren't "playmates" as kids but are extremely close as adults. Regardless of the age difference, I want that for Jackson. Yet, we also didn't imagine it would take us 4 years, thousands of dollars and a premature delivery to have our first child at age 32! So, despite our desires, who knows if another is even in the cards for us.

A case could be made for any scenario (only child, multiple children, close in age, far apart in age). Trust your gut. And know that whatever you decide is right for you.

And that's all that matters.

Anonymous said...

I agree, being a parent is the best and worst job all in one. At our house, having two young children, the stars have to align to get out of the house for errands.
Parroting a previous posts, we though that the best thing we could give our child was a sibling. They are two years apart and although it was tough with two little ones, they are such good playmates now and will hopefully be lifelong friends.
I originally wanted 4 kids, maybe 5. I thought that getting pregnant would be easy, but that was not in the cards for us. I feel blessed to have two healthy children. My feelings have changed these past few years on having a larger family. How could I give each child the all of the attention they deserve? I applaud those that can and do, but we do what we feel is right for us and our family.
Perhaps the best gift isn't a sibling but being the best parent one can be. Linus is a lucky boy to have two loving, devoted parents. Again, a cheer to you as a SAHM!
Amanda P in KS
:( sad about the cats huh!

GRUMP said...

Abby, if we had stopped at just one, YOU would not be in this discussion. Yes you give up your life for 20 years or so but you eventually get that life back and it is better than ever (bikes, braces, and grandkids!). I'm not as sure about three, cause then you guys had us outnumbered!
love you, DAD

Anonymous said...

What would life be without Jonathan? He is a great #2 and a great little brother (even though he was a pest many many times as a "little brother" right Adrian? Terry B

corrie said...

(I love how the grandparents are weighing in, totally in favor of mulitple grandchildren! So funny. Every grandparent I talk to says grandparenting is so much more fun than parenting -- all the reward with none of the sacrifice. Kind of makes me get excited to be a grandma...well, someday!)

Mom said...

I just feel like you are way over thinking it. The decision should be made based on what you feel in your heart.......everything else will fall into place as time passes.

having children is a leap of falling in love.

Love you. Mom

Convertible Girl said...

Yes, having a second baby is crazy -- but so is having the first one, as you illustrated in your post. The entertainment factor (of siblings playing with each other) is big for me -- mine are 2.5 years apart and they're finally starting to play together. I would have had them farther apart, but my husband's biological clock started ticking after the first was born.

Another part of it for me that you, as a teacher, will appreciate -- I learned SO much the hard way with baby #1, I wanted the chance to apply all that learning with baby #2. And even though it's totally chaotic with 2, that 2nd baby was so much less scary than the first time around (just like the 2nd year of teaching is SO much better than the 1st).

Ultimately, you have to trust yourself. I have plenty of friends who are only-children and totally happy with that.

Anonymous said...

we just felt it was right to have a 2nd child....and for us it's been a TOUGH year (they are 18months apart), but we still feel that we did the right thing! adding another one to the family is adding more plans and that makes life so much more precious!

but as many others said: it's a very personal decision!