Get Lots of Cats Instead

kids_mess

 

 

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.

 

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22 Comments

  1. I do see this mentality in a lot of people I know, both with kids and without. We seem to have forgotten that you just can’t plan everything in your life. Sh-t happens! Even if you don’t have kids, something will happen at some point to rock your perfect schedule. If you have kids it will happen even more. You don’t know what your getting into beforehand, but that’s ok. Life may turn out better than your plans. Just let go a little. I can’t say how many times I’ve had conversations with my girl friends where the advice I give is “How about leaving it up to God. It will work out.” No one seems to believe me. They have to have the next 10-20 years budgeted and scheduled.

  2. Oh, I’m a mom of three kids under 5 all home with me for the summer (boy does it seem a long time till Kindergarten). And an incontinent dog. On a good day our house looks like that picture.

  3. My first thought was, they shouldn’t be having a kid. My second, they probably shouldn’t even be married. They sound awful together. I know, diagnosis from one article is a low-percentage shot, but I didn’t feel like I was reading a piece written by a woman who loves her husband. Then, the Catholic thing kicks in: of course people shouldn’t be getting married if they’re not ready to have children! Of course this stuff has already been thought out before! Marriage is love and commitment and seriousness, willingness to sacrifice yourself for the other and for any children you’re fortunate enough to have. Sure, there’s wisdom in making realistic assessments and communicating with each other, but if you’re just considering how to do that, you shouldn’t be married. Put your hands in the air and slowly back away from the sacrament.

  4. 🙂 “back assay from the sacrament!”
    As Donald said rearing children is a privilege. Maybe marriage should also be considered a privilege not a right. …marriage properly defined.

  5. Mrs. Zummo wrote:
    .
    “I do see this mentality in a lot of people I know, both with kids and without. We seem to have forgotten that you just can’t plan everything in your life. Sh-t happens!”
    .
    When I asked my 2nd sponsor in a 12 step program why such sh-t always seemed to happen to me, he told me:
    .
    “Be grateful that God takes such an interest in your personal life that He gives you Specialized High Intensity Training.”
    .
    My sponsor’s sponsor – a Franciscan priest and my Confessor – was standing behind him when he said this and simply beamed ever so saintly.
    .
    On a different note, I do believe that liberal progressive Democrats should not breed, and with this they seem all too willing to comply by their contraceptive and sterile sexual way of life. Perhaps that is regrettable, but it does mean that they will die into extinction. Sadly however they will take as much of the rest of society with them as they can.

  6. She should grow old and alone and regret her selfishness when she was young.

    On another note – yesterday my family attended a family reunion – my dad’s extended family. It was the best attended one yet – over a hundred people and most of us were from the Pittsburgh area. I have a cousin, 11 months younger than me, married, lives in San Diego, and she is childless. Her husband is a doctor. Almost everyone who attended was there with their spouses, but not this cousin. Her husband has NEVER attended one of these. Everyone brought their children. She has none and her childbearing years are past her. She was a beautiful young lady – was in the homecoming court in high school and in college. We did not grow up together, but we graduated from high school in the same year. I carried her picture in my wallet. She turns 50 next month and I feel sad and sorry for her.

  7. @Anzlyne, marriage is not a right, it’s a responsibility. 🙂

    @Paul, “special high intensity training”? 🙂 🙂

    The predicament of this woman reminds of recent commentary pointing out that the elite have both time and words with which to negotiate their interpersonal relationships, seemingly endlessly, and so they do not see why lesser human beings need simple, explicit rules to guide our behavior.

  8. Never mind. I was thinking it was a lot of cars. You can’t be cruel to 3,000 pounds of steel, glass and plastic.

  9. Tamsin, the Church recognizes that there is a natural right to marriage. Here is a pertinent line for the 1983 Code of Canon Law:

    Canon 1146 The baptized party has the right to contract a new marriage with a Catholic

    This canon applies to the use of the Pauline Privilege. Remove the word ‘new’ and the same reasoning applies to all other Catholic marriages. Marriage carries responsibilities, yes, but it remains a right that even the Church may not impede without just cause.

  10. “Maybe marriage should also be considered a privilege, not a right”

    Actually, that notion does seem to have gained a lot of traction in our society — but in exactly the wrong way. The decline, almost implosion, of marriage among the working class and poor in the past generation or so can’t be attributed to any one factor alone, of course, but I can’t help but suspect part of it is the relentless emphasis society places on NOT marrying or having children until you have “all your ducks in a row” — completed your education, attained stable employment, saved or earned enough to buy a home, plus put aside enough money to stage your “dream” wedding and honeymoon, and ideally, set aside or started to save enough money to put all your kids through college (all the while saving up for your own retirement!).

    It seems to me that the parents of the Baby Boomers thought it was perfectly normal, for example, to get married while attending college on the GI Bill, or with only a high school diploma, a factory job and a small apartment lined up. Today, that would be frowned upon and considered utterly foolish. It’s gotten to the point that marriage and two-parent families are becoming privileges reserved for the middle class and wealthy — even though marriage is one of the best ways for women and children to avoid or rise out of poverty.

  11. Now, we’re on to a pet peeve of mine. Every parish worth its salt prays for vocations – to the priesthood, and maybe the religious life. Why don’t we pray for more vocations to marriage, and for people to act on those vocations in a more holy way? We can use more priests, and more good priests, but that’s always true. These days we need more holy marriages. A large, faithful family is as visible a sign to the world as priestly robes (maybe moreso, because no one would mistake the family for Episcopalians).

  12. “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?”
    .
    The solution in a word is-family. Family picks up the loose ends, the slack, enjoys the children and then goes home. Family supports, encourages, and blesses. Family is grandmother grandfather, mother and father, all four, sisters, brothers, other children, nieces, nephews and most often neighbors who care and help. Hope and Change does not cover it. Being loved by neighbors and family does.

  13. Words are tricky! We hear a lot about rights today. I know that rights and responsibility go together.
    .
    Some have claimed the right to marriage as if somehow society owed it to them… even tho they were same sex, even tho there’s no natural right to that type of marriage.
    I was thinking of privilege Not in the sense of something reserved for a so-called “privileged class”- because that makes the recognition of who is deserving of privilege dependent upon human judgment or assessment- something society could decide and award.
    I was thinking of privilege regarding marriage, as a wonderful gift from God. I was expressing my own feeling of privilege, being unworthy and yet blessed. All the best things that God has given me- that I am a Catholic, that I get to receive Holy Communion, that I have been blessed in my marriage and my family– all undeserved. So words are tricky. Privilege is in some ways a condescension; a mercy.
    When people assume a privilege unto themselves they are not really privileged, they are grabby. When people assign privilege to “higher” class people, it is not an act of love or mercy.
    I was thinking of privilege as a personal private blessing– I know the word comes from “private law” that is not something that is applied across the board, but is an individual application sometimes out of line with what could have been expected based on worthiness.

  14. Anzylne, you make an excellent point and I apologize if I misinterpreted you. In the sense that you define “privilege” vs. “right” I agree that marriage and children should be treated as privileges — gifts that we are honored to be given, not mere objects or personal sources of fulfillment that we can claim or throw away at will. The notion of an absolute “right” to marry (or to no longer be married) has led to no-fault divorce and same-sex “marriage,” while the notion of an absolute right to have or NOT have children has led to both abortion and immoral forms of reproductive technology (e.g. surrogate motherhood, in vitro fertilization, embryo freezing).

  15. “Why don’t we pray for more vocations to marriage, and for people to act on those vocations in a more holy way? We can use more priests, and more good priests, but that’s always true. These days we need more holy marriages. A large, faithful family is as visible a sign to the world as priestly robes”

    Please do. I just turned 48 and ended a several month long relationship with another practicing Catholic, whom I adored, because he was insistent that we have sex outside of marriage–my conscience & fear of ending up with a baby to raise all on my own would not allow me to comply with his wishes. He was willing to give any amount of lip service necessary to marriage to push me in the direction he wanted me to move–however, I strictly ended the relationship asking not to be contacted again -explaining to him that the relationship had become a trap, that should I ever mess up & conceive a child that he would be sued for all the child support possible under the law, & that he needed to take a look at the condition of his soul because the Bible clearly says that anyone who can live contentedly long term in sexual morality is not going to Heaven. I have not heard from him since.

    I am sick to death of telling men to go date someone else if they want an affair–having them not believe me–and then having to end the relationship when they find out that I mean what I say. It is very painful.

    God is calling me to be a wife–not a whore or an old maid.

  16. PS. I do not have even one cat, & do not plan to get one either. My terrier would kill it promptly. 😀

  17. Barbara Gordon wrote, “My terrier would kill it promptly.”

    You should meet my stable cats. As Wellington said of the Peninsula Army, “I don’t know about the enemy, but by G-, they frighten me!”

  18. @Anzlyne, I understood you meant “privilege” as “gift”! Thank you for elaborating. And I appreciate Elaine’s explication of the difficulties we can have in using the word “right”. Thank you ladies.

  19. MPS said: “You should meet my stable cats. As Wellington said of the Peninsula Army, ‘I don’t know about the enemy, but by G-, they frighten me!’

    I have seen a couple of cats get the upper hand, by surprise, and the frightened response of the dogs allowed the cats to achieve their goal. One such cat left a permanent scar across the nose of my first hound dog! LOL. See video below for a recent example.

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jZJ5AA2gpwU

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