Posted on March 14, 2011 by the mad momma (So those who missed this on themadmomma.in because the server crashed, can read and comment here. Come on folks, lets talk!)
I find that easy to understand. I do envy people who fly off to Bangkok for a weekend instead of ferrying kids from one birthday party to another. Those who can sleep in till noon without little fingers prying open their eyelids and asking a sibling “Do you think they are still in there?”
Kids are an additional responsibility. There is no getting away from that. Unless you are as cold as stone you are sure to be involved with your kids and constantly thinking about them. By that I don’t mean you won’t stop off after work for a martini or give your best to a presentation. But I do mean you will look at your watch at 2 am and say, Damn, I wonder how the kids are, lets go home. Or, pack up the presentation and wonder if you’ve missed seeing them awake today.
Perhaps its not so much that you are happier without kids, but that you have less to worry about. Isn’t there the old line about freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose. Similarly, the more you have, the more you worry. If you are single, you have no one to worry about. If you are married you worry about your spouse coming back late at night alone. If you have kids, you worry about them falling down in the park and scraping a knee. It’s a bit of a no-brainer really so I don’t know why so much research went into it.
A friend recently asked me why people have kids. I don’t know. I really don’t; even 6 years after becoming a mother I can come up with no good reason to have kids. Nothing you couldn’t dispute at any rate. For the last 2 months they have had coughs and colds and there is snot on every conceivable surface of our home. They both are on some sort of medication to melt the phlegm that is in their chests and so they run around like urchins while I run behind them just wiping, wiping, wiping. There is skating class to go for, Bean to be dealt with while the Brat skates, homework, baths, dinner and finally I collapse at my desk and wonder if I should work or quickly tap out a post. Work deadlines zoom dangerously near and I can hear them whistle around my ears. Some days are good, some days I am torn between being mother, wife, professional, daughter and friend.
And then tonight as I crawled into bed with the babies after they’d fallen asleep, it struck me. It’s because it lets you get as close to another living creature. Humans are so transparent when they begin life that it is a pleasure to watch the way their brains work. The famed innocence of childhood is something we envy. But it is also a thrill, a high, like a drug, to be able to get into someone’s mind and watch it work. To see them figure out how a lock opens, to hear them pronounce a word, to watch their fingers curl around a fork and wrap noodles around it. Every bit of it is a human being coming into themselves and its like watching a science experiment, except much cuter!
The other cool part, is the ‘surprise factor.’ Do you know what I mean? Kids have the ability to look at something you’ve seen ten times over and make it more fun. How else do you explain the desire to take them to the beach and sit there digging castles when you could be sipping martinis by the pool instead? How else do you explain spending a Sunday at the zoo instead of in bed, changing channels and eating chips?
Whenever I visualise the children in my life I see myself leading them to the top of a mountain, my hands covering their eyes. And we trip and stumble along the way, they clinging to me trustingly. The path is uneven and I keep losing patience and wondering why I bothered at all. And then we reach the top and I remove my fingers and the view takes their breath away and I say Surprise! And they love it. Well, after having kids, my life is one endless series of yelling ‘Surprise!!!!!’ Be it reading Brer Rabbit to them or showing them how to shell peas and pick out the sweeter ones, everyday they learn something new. And everyday I relive the pleasure of it. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.
Edited to add: The kids have gone to Nani-G’pa’s place for ten days and the OA and I came home to a quiet home tonight. I didn’t find it peaceful. I found it empty and sad. Once a home has been touched by a child’s laughter it is very hard to go back to meaningless TV watching and huge chunks of time. We’ve learnt to find our little sneaky moments of romance, to eke out time to read on the pot, to have long chats with friends while rocking a baby to sleep on an arm that has lost sensation and now we’re just really efficient! I am happy that they are enjoying a break with their grand parents. I am happy that the OA and I have this time together. But honestly, in a week, I’m going to be crawling up the wall in agony if my children are not back in my arms.