rosefox: Batman feeds a baby while saying "We'll both be just fine" (baby-yay)
Rose Fox ([personal profile] rosefox) wrote2017-04-01 01:47 pm

"I've spent my life traveling, spent my life free"

A thing I just wrote elsenet in response to someone who's ambivalent about parenthood and wanted to know how other people went from "no kids" to "yes kids":

I have a kid and I still don't know whether I would have, abstractly, in the absence of all other input, wanted kids. But no one lives abstractly, in the absence of all other input.

In my case, my partner X (who didn't live with me and J at the time) was very firm about having a kid and the only question for me and J was how involved to get. I felt very awkward around babies and was uncomfortable around kids in the abstract, though, like you, I had started to realize how much I enjoyed the company of my friends' and relatives' individual kids and was sort of rethinking that whole "not fond of kids" idea. I had absolute body horror around the idea of being pregnant, so I was never going to produce a child of my own. J and I certainly liked being double-income-no-kids and traveling internationally and doing a lot of evening and weekend social events, and we could have decided we liked it so much that we wanted to keep doing it while X single-parented. But when X crashed on our couch for a couple of months, we all liked living together and being a family so much that we decided to keep doing it, baby and all.

And now the three of us are all parents to an amazing 15-month-old and just yesterday a friend said that in every photo of me cuddling the baby, I have a huge smile that says "I GET TO CUDDLE A BABY". I could not have predicted this in one million billion years. I thought I was going to be uncomfortable and distant around the baby until they were able to speak coherent English. But nope, turns out that I am totally besotted by this baby. When they're sad and they crawl into my lap and bury their face in my shoulder and cry and fall asleep, that communicates love in ways that don't need words, and I'm genuinely honored to be so trusted by someone so small and vulnerable. There's something absolutely pure about our relationship right now, because they're too young to have emotional baggage. They just drench us in love (and drool). And I really get babies now, in a way that I didn't at all before, and am much more comfortable around other people's kids, though I'm still not going to leap to volunteer to babysit a baby. (Teenagers are different. Teenagers are amazing. Send all your teenagers to meeeeee.)

So if you're concerned that being ambivalent about parenthood means you will be ambivalent about your particular kid if you choose to have one, I am living proof that you can be uncertain right up to the moment of birth and even after—I spent most of Kit's first two weeks frantic because I hadn't bonded with the baby yet—and then fall madly in love and be ready to fight anyone who tries to get between you and your child.

I'm eager to get back to international travel and am entirely capable of discussing things that aren't bottles and diapers. I remember very clearly what it's like to not be a kid person, and I never inflict baby photos or anecdotes on people who'd really rather talk about anything else. But I'm 110% a my kid person, in ways that absolutely astonish me.

Parenthood should, in an ideal world, be a deliberate decision, but it's okay if you make that decision without feeling super-eagerly committed to it. You can say "Okay, I think having kids will be better than not having kids, probably, so let's do it and hope for the best" and that's a deliberate decision. A lot of people make the decision that way. There's nothing wrong with you for feeling like that about it.

I do workshops for struggling writers, and at the last one, someone asked, "How do I know whether to commit to being a writer?" I said that the question is not "Do I become a writer?" but "How am I a writer?". So perhaps a good question for you is, how would you be a parent? How would parenthood fit into your life, what would it mean to you, what would it give you and demand from you? What you imagine as you try to envision your possible parenthood life will help you see how it might work out for you, or not. When we were talking about having a child, I kept thinking of one-on-one bonding time with a small kid—making cookies, walking in the park and pointing out cool leaves and birds, explaining how plumbing works—and those visions filled me with joy. That hoped-for connection was my compass and was at the heart of why I said yes to being a parent. And I was right; bonding with my child, one on one, is the best part of parenthood for me. You know yourself and what you want from relationships—and parenthood is absolutely a relationship, first and foremost—so harness that knowledge to your imagination and see where it goes.
bigherman: (Default)

[personal profile] bigherman 2017-04-01 06:10 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I can relate to some of this. I really like spending time with my local 3 yo neicew, such a blast at this age while he's figuring out how his body works and pushing his limits on the playground and also able to sort of talk coherently. I also like bouncing the younger local 9 month old neicew, she's also so frigging happy it's easy to keep her entertained and it feels good to help a fellow human being be all radiant and joyous like that. Still don't want kids of my own, but will happily spend time with the non-screaming and moderately well-behaved kids around.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-04-01 07:30 pm (UTC)(link)
This is SUPERB.

I am bookmarking it to reread over and over because it is HIGHLY relevant to my long-term situation even though I am NOT going to choose to become a parent *right now.* (See: poly; see: body horror at concept of pregnancy; see: formerly 'not a kid person'; see: quite like other people's kids; see: don't know how to handle non-speaking small children.) THANK YOU.

It is also really neat writing. And I think it has a lot to offer to people in many situations different than mine, as well. Well done!
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

[personal profile] ironed_orchid 2017-04-02 02:20 am (UTC)(link)
I love the way you write about parenting. It's so full of joy and wonder.

There are parents who don't immediately bond with their kids, and post partum depression is a real thing, but also that these are things that can dealt with if they arise. I think the sort of person who is asking questions about parenting before taking that step will be the sort of person who is self-aware enough to monitor and check in with others.

[identity profile] 2017-04-02 08:12 pm (UTC)(link)
I always tell people that if you're the kind of person who makes friends slowly and takes a while to trust new people (or, heck, maybe even if you're not), it can easily be the same way with a new baby. Bonding isn't necessarily about having All the Warm Fuzzies Instantly.
amaebi: (Default)

[personal profile] amaebi 2017-04-02 11:59 am (UTC)(link)
Yep. :)
ext_45721: Rabbit lying on a couch, reading large, antique book of Poe. (royal rainbow!)

[identity profile] 2017-04-02 03:09 am (UTC)(link)
I love this post.

[identity profile] 2017-04-02 09:43 pm (UTC)(link)
FWIW the drool gets better. ;)

Each of us 3 has a very different r'ship with our kid, but each is also deeply in love and pretty happy -- but being intentional in our family helped with that. We knew what we were getting into. Sometimes we have to do aspects of parenting that aren't perfect for us but mostly not. Mostly, things are as they fit well.

[identity profile] 2017-04-03 02:32 am (UTC)(link)
This is a great post!