Before You Have Kids, Consider This

child dancing, having kids
Caleb Woods

Are you on the fence about having children? I understand. At least once a day my own child has me convinced this wasn’t the best idea. This is one of those ‘no take backs’ situations I’ve gotten myself into. The daily thrill and misery of parenthood has given me perspective I didn’t have when I was young and thought I wouldn’t have kids until I was much older, or maybe ever. Back when 9am was early, my abs were everything, and traveling was synonymous with chic. I fancied myself a vampire, and having a child would be like a wooden stake to my cool, free heart.

I’m not trying to talk anybody into it, like “Hey, take on this huge life sucking/life giving responsibility you’re not quite sure you want to do” – the last thing this planet needs are unwanted children. So if you don’t want them, cool. But maybe you’re not sure? If any of these things are keeping your uterus empty, I offer only heavily biased perspective.

Not having kids is so hot right now, everyone is in their 30’s and brunching and really passionate about social justice issues. They’re willing to take their DNA out of the race in the name of global warming. Which is awesome, I too have mixed feelings about the state of our planet. But I am not a martyr, I’m not gonna let my bloodline fizzle for the sake of the ice caps. I’m going to recycle and only buy energy efficient light bulbs. I’ll go meatless on Mondays. And most importantly because I had one of those unplanned pregnancies and can’t be a part of the cool kid(less) club anymore, I’m going to do my best to raise a decent human being.

Yes, the world is absolutely overpopulated. There are Nazis and people that still support this administration (lol). So maybe the best thing you can do for this planet, instead of shudder your reproductive factory, is produce truly lovely human beings. Kind, empathetic, and innovative children can keep this place from burning down. I think.

So it’s less about the current state of affairs and more about your body? Kids wreak havoc, stretch marks, etc. Sure, sure. But you’re fighting a losing battle with time here guys. I’d absolutely love to blame (everything) the fact that my knees hurt when I run on my kid, but I’m almost 30. You will wear down. Your skin will sag; you will get lines and wrinkles. You’re going to look 60 one day whether or not you acknowledge it; don’t be childless because you thought it was the ticket to eternal youth. That’s what plastic surgery and green juices are for.

You’re worried life will be over as you know it. Yes, it will be. Unless you are rich, moderately rich and/or have a nanny, life is over. That’s not what you wanted to hear? Only a liar will tell you that raising children is going to be as fun as your current lifestyle. Changing diapers is not as fun as going to a concert. And don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Having children will, however, beat out any competition when it comes to joy.

Joy is not fun or freedom though, so don’t get it twisted. Raising children is an investment; payouts are not immediate. Half off apps, that is happening right now, but you can’t make it because your kid is going to walk anywhere between 10-13 months. Stay put.

The ultimate basic mom quote on social media goes something along these lines, “Got pooped on and haven’t slept in 36 hours. but so in love, wouldn’t trade it for anything!!!!!” I understand your hesitancy; does motherhood come stock with annoying social media presence? Do I also have to sell leggings or a shake? (Yes, it’s a rite of passage, shut up and sign up.)

The Facebook moms are annoying, and they’re right. At face value, it’s true. You wouldn’t trade it for anything, but that doesn’t mean that tailgating, or Saturday’s on the lake house with your crew suddenly stop being fun. She just doesn’t know it’s ok to mourn her losses, that her grief isn’t offensive to her baby. So she overcompensates with these play-by-plays of developmental milestones and poop. Forgive her, and consider the fact that millions of people choose to deal with someone else’s diarrhea. Powerful stuff, do you have FOMO yet?

The early motherhood craze will release you and it’ll be business as usual. There’s still time for food pics. You’ll get back to your career and hobbies.

Do you appreciate life? I’m not patronizing enough to tell you that you don’t know true happiness without children, but I will say, you probably don’t stop to consider just how wonderful life is with regularity. Yes, I have a few of you on my Newsfeed who are losing your marbles over the moon and the sunset, every other day. And honestly, kudos. You get it. You understand that this life is inherently magical. You are Sarah Jessica Parker watching the Eclipse, 24/7.

The rest of us think we get “simple pleasures” – I for one am totally satisfied with a $7 coffee and a witty New York Times Op-Ed. I require little else than a perfectly ripe avocado mashed onto whole grain. Just as soon as the three are devoured I’m taking up occupancy in negative town again: taxes, the GOP, and my neighbors who don’t do their edging.

But I don’t get to hang out there too long, because every 10 minutes my kid is reminding me what an ungrateful joyless asshole I am. She is losing her shit over how blades of grass feel between her toes. She is seizing over blue skies and tall buildings, me making her stuffed animal “talk.”
She is reminding me that there’s plenty to marvel. Without her I’d be chasing joy, like whiskey. Never realizing all I had to do was open my window or make a fool of myself.

So have the baby, because your favorite band will tour again, and football Saturdays aren’t going anywhere. Have the baby, because you’re going to get old whether you want to or not. Have the baby, because the fate of the planet might just depend on it. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Scarlett is a stay at home-ish mom who moonlights as a writer and bartender.

Keep up with Scarlett on

More From Thought Catalog