the big ones:
how much would i hate giving up my personal freedom. i used to think that as life went on, the young adult lifestyle would get boring and that “going out” and other traditional young adult activities would lose their luster and i would just want to stay in… in which case having a child wouldn’t be a huge sacrifice. but that hasn’t happened yet!… i think the last couple years have only made me want to go out more and enjoy this unparalleled freedom and selfishness and hedonism. and how hard would it be to have kids if none of my friends were having kids?
how rewarding would i enjoy being selfless. certain things seem really undesirable, like when i have to take care of daniel when he’s sick instead of having fun. or changing diapers. or emptying the litter box.
i was having a conversation with my coworker and he was saying how he used to weigh 50 pounds less… and then he had a kid. and then he started eating uncontrollably. “because eating was the only way he could alleviate the suffering.” lol. which is definitely a little #dark, but there is no denying that there is a lot of “being selfless” (euphemism for soulcrushing amounts of responsibility) involved.
….though i think there’s a difference between being selfless and going on a journey and growing together. one of my favorite experiences of my life was being a camp counselor. that sort of excitement and dedication and stewardship… nothing beats seeing a child smile after you give them a piggyback ride. those weeks of spending time with the counselors and the campers was more fun, more fulfilling, and more magical than many things i have done in my life.
as selfish as i am, (prepare to eyeroll) i think i try harder to create bonds and build/maintain relationships than most people, i am happy to put in more time than most people, and i want me/others to grow/improve more than others. marginally. and i think in these senses i am very giving and those qualities would make parenthood very fulfilling for me and characteristics that would make me a good parent.
will i experience existential concern/regret. this is the scary one, the one that i would not realize until 20 years down the road, a feeling that my life revolving around myself is absolutely meaningless and i have accomplished nothing and will not leave a legacy. (again, impossible not to feel that that life is totally pointless from watching cosmos, so….)
on the other hand, will i experience old person loneliness. though i don’t really think this is a great reason to have a kid. how many children really give much attention to their parents after their parents hit 60?
part of this debate reminds me of michael scott and how he wanted to have kids because they would be his new best friends. “i want to be married and have a hundred kids so i can have a hundred friends and no one can say no to being my friend.”
at what stage of the child’s development will you actually enjoy.
- 0-2 – crying poop bags that require constant supervision
- 2-5 – forced to have really puerile conversations with things that still cry a lot
- 5-12 – i actually think this is the time i would enjoy being a parent most; their love comes really easily, their enthusiasm is unparalleled, very little-league disciplinary problems, don’t have to think too hard about the future, you’re able to carry on immature but still wonderful conversations and be constantly surprised
- 13-18 – rebellious teenage years, becoming the enemy and worrying about sex, drugs, and studying
- 19-23 – paying for college out the nose and hoping they’ll be able to find a job and be happy
- 23-40 – seeing them once or a handful of times a year for potentially fun, soul completing vacations or really forced, unpleasant time together
- 41+ – having a caretaker/feeling like a burden on your loved ones
the less big ones:
how logistically would we get kids. going rates for surrogacy are about $200K with a lead time of two years. adoption is $100K with a one year wait. or maybe i’m only friends with gays who can afford top shelf babies. where is the baby happy hour?! where are the well babies!?!?
can i afford kids after i get them. even the cost of renting an additional bedroom or buying a house with an additional bedroom would be immense. school/living/leisure/caretaking costs combined would easily be $300K/child to college graduate.
how interested daniel is in having kids. how good of a parent would he be. he says he might/would eventually be interested, but his behavior and interests do little to suggest this. having a kid really requires the dedication and passion of two parents, for my own sanity’s sake and for the child’s sake, and daniel is much closer to the “he’ll help his kid with the homework when you ask him five times” side of the spectrum than the “he is looking up piano teachers in the area because he thinks that learning piano is character building.” the last thing that i want is to have more reasons to nag daniel.
my biological clock. i know guys don’t “have” “biological clocks” if you’re adopting/using a surrogate, but i would be hard pressed to have a child much later than 35. it would be tough seeing a kid off to college when you were 60.
how caretaking would work. would i just quit my job? would we find a nanny? how much would a nanny cost? where would we find a nanny we could trust?! do i want to follow that schedule where i need to leave work every day at 5:15 to pick up the kid from daycare?
how i would react if they had problems with physical/mental health. what happens if they are severely mentally or physically disabled? like they are autistic or they have a heart defect. it wouldn’t be the end all be all, but i also feel like it significantly wear my patience down over time and it would be very difficult for me to care for them without feeling really frustrated with life’s unfairness.
dealing with discipline problems. what happens if your kid wants to spend time with the guy who you think is a bad influence on your child? what happens if they are sneaking out? what happens if you think they are bullying someone? what happens if you think they are cheating or stealing or doing drugs? what happens if you are forced into becoming the enemy over time and raising a child is just a constant battle of negotiations with your kid trying to undermine you.
how i would try to develop secondary skills. one of the biggest complaints of the tiger mother upbringing is that it only teaches you how to study and teaches you to only value tests and the traditional asian notion of success. (though the ironic part is that the daughter of amy chua is the exact opposite of this stereotype.) let’s say that your kid is relatively healthy and well behaved–how do you develop a child’s secondary skills, like humor, passion, social skills, ambition, humility, character, being intellectual, being interesting, compassion, resilience, responsibility. i don’t even know where i would begin.
how stable daniel and i are. in some ways, having children is a stabilizing force in the sense that getting married is a stabilizing force; you’re a lot more committed even if you don’t want to be. in other ways, kids would be incredibly destabilizing. as a young adult with a fair amount of disposable income, we honestly do very little things that we don’t like to do. throw in a kid, and your number of responsibilities rise and friction builds. throw that in with disrupted sleeping patterns, lack of privacy or alone time, disagreements on how to raise a child, and suddenly it becomes a lot harder to be in a happy relationship.
life on earth is going to get so much harder in 30 years. i know that life is way easier for me than my cousins still in taiwan. that said, i think that the inequality gap will continue to grow and the economic landscape will change significantly to the point where life will be much harder for my kids than me, even if they were to grow up in the states. i think environmentally things will become much more difficult as well; draughts/water shortages, global warming, lack of renewable resources.
if there were a baby index for how much i wanted to have a kid (where 50% is neutral and 100% is a definite yes), let’s say it was around 95% when i finished being a camp counselor and spending a vacation with my 8yo cousin. after living in san francisco as a young adult and enjoying that freedom, it decreased to 80%. after spending a lot of time with my infant nephews, that decreased to a 60%.
in the meantime, i don’t plan to think too hard about it. will revisit in 1-2 years.