A 36 year old married writer at Slate, appropriately named Rebecca Onion, is hearing her biological clock ticking loudly and is wondering if she should now have a kid. However, she is concerned because she suspects that the kid will make massive changes in her life. Her solution is hilarious:
So what’s the solution? People get prenups. What about drawing up a pre-pregnancy contract? (Not, under any circumstances, to be called a “prepup,” as my husband joked.) Wouldn’t a not-at-all legally binding document, outlining expectations and setting a course for periodic re-examination of the division of labor, alleviate my fears, and prevent aggravation, or fights, or divorce, in the future?
I find that any number of life challenges are more palatable when drained of their emotional content through quantification. Terrifying deadline? Take a realistic look at the number of work hours available before filing, and divide the work into those chunks. Feeling disorganized? Make inventories of the things we have in the storage space. My husband would naturally adopt a much more spontaneous approach to our daily life, but it’s that very looseness that worries me; in a “spontaneous” household, I observe, work tends to revert to the less spontaneous person, who is often the person who’s culturally expected to carry it out. Above all, there’s no such thing as “natural” when it comes to domestic arrangements. A baby would seriously increase the need for planning in our house. Why not start now?
There is a list of things I’d want if we had a kid. I’m a writer with a very flexible schedule—just the kind of mom whose work time gets bitten into when a child care crisis arises. Could I ask for a guarantee that I could have six (seven? eight?) hours a day to myself, for work, no matter how inconvenient that arrangement gets for him? Could I stipulate that he would need to be done with work at 6 or 7 p.m., rather than his current workaholic quitting time of 9:30 or 10—again, no matter what mitigating factors might arise? Could we acknowledge the unfair cultural expectation that allows fathers to take time for leisure, while denying the privilege to mothers, and try to change that in our own lives through planning? Could I ask for him to learn to cook and shop for groceries, so we could split that 11-hour-a-week burden?
Go here to read the rest. Having raised three kids with my bride, my advice to Ms. Onion is for her not to have children but rather to begin laying in a supply of cats for her old age. Kids will irrevocably change her life and cause her to engage in massive self-sacrifice that she is obviously unwilling to do. For those who are willing to engage in that self-sacrifice, the joys, along with the bouts of aggravation, are beyond description. Having kids is one of life’s great adventures and is not for the timid or the selfish. By the time our twins came along I was an established attorney and a mature 34. I thought child rearing would be a breeze. That such was not going to be the case came early at a 3:00 AM feeding with both boys crying in duet, and with me wanting to make it a trio! From there it was off on this grand journey for the next two decades, with twists and turns around every corner and great joys and great tragedies. It was exhausting and maddening at times, and exhilarating and satisfying beyond belief at others. I wouldn’t have missed it for ten life times and any amount of professional success. It was a great privilege and it is sad that some people do not see it that way.