Four Things I Promise Before Baby
I've squeezed out a blog post for 65 consecutive months, and this will be the last one without child. After my long-winded announcement, I purposely avoided writing about it out of principle, in defiance of the idea that having a kid has to dominate who I am.
Things will change. They already have. I was so pissed off earlier this month, purposely working later than I should and not talking much at home. I felt like I was on a treadmill of unremitting tasks, impossible to optimize the way I want, and the tasks were neither for my benefit nor appreciated.
The realization was painfully settling in that there will always be something hanging over my head now. This is the new norm. I hope a switch in my head flips when the additional head pops out of her vagina, because from my current vantage point, I don’t see how the reward can be worth the opportunity cost.
Frankly, I feel like a fraud after consistently ragging on kids and parents for years. And guilty for abandoning those who agreed with me and stood by it. I want to put some safeguards in place to protect my relationships with those who don’t have children. You can screenshot these declarations and call me out if I break them.
#1 Having kids is selfish, not selfless.
People talk about children giving them meaning in life, rooted in caring for someone besides themselves. That’s fine, but don’t overextend the notion. If our motives were truly altruistic, we would adopt from the pool of starving orphans. Think about how much better that would be for the world.
But no, we want to make one that looks like us and provides the feeling of life beyond our own. It’s actually quite self-centered if not the ultimate vanity. People do the most effed-up things for their kids, or at least temporarily suspend manners and rationality.
Making a baby is not a selfless act. Our bodies are designed for this. It’s why I start going crazy if I don’t ejaculate for a while. Raising someone else’s baby is a selfless act. You will never hear me confuse the two and refer to biological parenthood as a noble endeavor.
#2 Separate the remarkable from the normal.
We put headphones on the belly and blasted Mozart a few times in hopes of cultivating genius. Chances are the kid is going to be pretty bland though. He’ll be born in the O.C. after all.
My wife and I are well above average on various attributes, so I’m kind of anticipating some regression to the mean with our son. That’s perfectly OK and will save us money down the road with more limited options for higher education.
In this everyone-gets-a-trophy age, I will not embellish how cute, smart, coordinated or otherwise precocious my son is for doing normal things. They might seem amazing things to me watching the month-to-month transformation, but I will remember they are not special to anyone outside this section of the family tree.
Outside the family home, I will reserve excitement for exciting developments. If he picks up a few Mandarin phrases, great. That puts him in the 50th percentile in Irvine, and we can celebrate privately without boring others.
If he’s benching 150 at 18 months… then this might warrant an Instagram story. First of all, I would be jealous. Second, I would want a paternity test. Third, I would want a P.E.D. test. Fourth, I would point out I have long arms and try to pause at the bottom and not cheat with momentum. And fifth, this is the type of extraordinary development eligible to be raved about to people with no connection to my child.
#3 Talk about something else.
If I’m conversing with another parent, of course discussing our kids is topical and natural. But I will never, ever start talking about my baby to non-parents unless they ask. It is tedious and irrelevant subject matter to them and disrespectful of their time.
There is too big of a gap in our vested interest level. You wouldn’t go through the details of your new charcoal smoker with a vegetarian.
We should treat the baby like a family death in conversations. It’s probably polite for them to inquire, and I will oblige with the essential information. Then we’ll move on because dwelling on it only creates an awkward cycle of forced Q&A.
#4 Leave the leper at home.
Unless we’re using the baby as a ticket to bro so hard at Chuck E. Cheese, I will not bring it to any social outing with non-parent friends. Those opportunities will be rare enough as it is without diluting their quality with a dependent who adds no value.
I don’t have a high opinion of adults who say they prefer to hang out with children. Best case, dull intellect or sense of humor. Worst case, pedophile. I hate playing with other people’s kids. I feel obligated to put a lot of energy into it and generally succeed in building rapport. But really I can’t get out of there fast enough, yet time appears to stop.
This is why child care is so expensive. You have to compensate any normal adult because it’s unenjoyable work when the kid isn’t yours.
All four of these guardrails amount to the same important self-awareness check. Circa July 10, my disposable time and income will revolve around a new center. It is not everyone else’s center, and I will respect that.
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