A slightly above-average achiever's guide to parenting
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Children as a "Necessary Evil"
November 1, 2016
I searched my available stock images for "evil baby", and turns out this was the most malicious looking child I could find. I mean, look at those evil eyes.
Our society has conditioned women to believe that the only proper reaction to infants is to melt into a pile of mush, coo endlessly, and be so thankful to have our little "bundles of joy" in our arms that we aren't possibly for one second allowed to resent them. To feel any other way is somehow viewed as unnatural. So, every time I tell a non-parent my views on the baby stage, they tend to get this horrified look on their face, as if no ACTUAL parent could say the following about their own baby. But I felt it before I had kids, and I feel it even more so after having a baby: babies are a necessary evil to have the family I've always wanted.
Don't get me wrong, I love Chewie something fierce. In fact, I'm now at the point where there are times when out of the blue I get this overwhelming feeling of love for him that I can only describe as a part of my heart is walking outside my body. Like, it bubbles up into my chest and I feel like I can't breathe I love that kid so much. But it certainly didn't start that way, nor did I expect it to.
I've always known I was not one for newborns. I was always the one (and still am. Sorry, friends!) who really offered the "your baby's so cute" platitudes half-heartedly. I didn't understand why people would get so worked up over something that took SO MUCH energy and gave such little back. Oh, your baby learned how to lift it's head up/roll over/ chew solid food? Big deal. I've been doing that for years, baby. So it wasn't entirely unexpected that when they first put Chewie in my arms, my first thought was not one of awe and love, but it honestly was "he looks WAY less like an alien than I was expecting". Spoken like a truly maternal woman, right?
So, it probably seems like an insane proposition for me to procreate. But the thing is, I love love love kids, and always have. I used to work as a nanny in college and have babysat since I was 13 years old. Kids-- not babies-- are really amazing to me. The way they learn language, the way their mind works, the way they decide who they're going to be as people-- I love all of that and couldn't wait to have children of my own. But to be clear, it was children, and not babies that I wanted. Babies, by comparison, seem more like parasites.
Thankfully, I knew enough to know that to have the kids I always wanted, there was really only one way to get there. But, as soon as I was thrust into the new-mom world, the "you must love babies" belief kept getting stronger and stronger. Pampers, Fisher Price, Gymboree, everyone it seemed, kept sending me the message that I had to cherish this quickly passing baby stage. But in reality, the sleep deprivation was wearing on, and the newborn snuggles and occasional smile did not seem to be cutting it. So then I started to feel even worse that I was frankly resenting my son, when in reality I should be bathing in his adorable baby-ness.
Then, Nancy Gaier, one of the amazing moderators of my mom-and-baby class at Little Lovage Club told our class the following: "Now that you're 2-3 months into parenting, if you're not at least partly resenting your child for your loss of independence and how much they've changed your life...you're probably lying to yourself. It's okay to mourn for your former life." And with that, it was like Nancy had given me permission to feel the way I always had about babies-- that they were HARD WORK and often gave little to no feedback.
My view on babies is not one I offer to anyone just walking down the street. Because some people, like my wonderful husband, adore babies, and I don't want to spit-up on their parade. But, I do think it's important for women to know, if you don't have that "I love babies" gene, it's okay. You're not alone. And plus, your friends with kids will probably appreciate you babysitting for their toddler way more than their baby anyways.