Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Afraid of what I want.

I want a baby so badly. I can't see one without melting into a complete puddle of goo. I read tons of blogs by parents and I am jealous of the whole thing, even the crappy parts. Although of course the part of me that really wants the baby is the part that loves the soft snuggling, the smell, the clothing, the wondrousness of it all.

But I know, from years of babysitting, and from reading so many parenting blogs, that that's not all of it, or even most of it. I know that kids change your whole life, strip you of all your free time, your ability to do anything on your own, your extra money, your sleep, your ability to call your soul your own. I know that almost all parents are exhausted and I know so many people who describe how they hardly see their spouse, how they're two ships passing in the night, how their days are just about survival and cleanup and who's on duty for what, how everything is just an endless tangle of arrangements and problem-solving.

At least, that seems to be what it's like for parents of young children, which is mostly the kind of parent I know. Perhaps when the kids get older and are more self-sufficient and are in school all day, things change. But for those first few years, when the kids are little and solely dependent on their parents for everything... well, I'm under no illusion that it's easy.

And I have to admit that I'm a little scared of that. I was just writing yesterday about how happy I am with my life the way it is, and I love our lifestyle. Everything is simple for us, and that is lovely and relaxing, and we are savoring it. It will be hard to give that up, and I can definitely understand why some people choose not to.

But for us, part of what makes our life so happy and carefree now is our dreams and plans for the future, and our thoughts of how our lives won't always be like this. I'm fulfilled as I am, but I can feel those biological impulses, and I know that I wouldn't be able to resist them even if I wanted to. Living without many responsibilities is nice, but I'm not sure I'd like to do it forever.

And then, there's that side of parenting that no parent ever seems to fully be able to express, but that makes it all so worth it. The lows might be lower, but the highs are so much higher, and the love is so deep and instinctual, and the child is so beautiful and parenting together is so exciting, even as it is also frustrating and at times probably enraging.

So even as I'm scared of it, scared of sleepless nights and no money and the possibility of post-partum depression and days full of activities and yet seemingly lasting forever and a constant focus on the little details and endless mundanity and never getting a chance to breathe or take an uninterrupted shower--even as I'm scared of that, I am so, so excited for it, and I can't wait for it to happen, even though it won't be for awhile yet.

Does that ever happen to you, that you want something that simultaneously scares you? What was it? Did you go for it anyway?

42 comments:

poodlegoose said...

Yes. Marriage. It scares the bejesus out of me. But it's not because I feel like we're not right for each other or because we don't get along. It's that very serious and very real commitment I'm going to be making to someone. To promise to be there for him and him alone for the rest of our lives. Things like that just scare me a little.

But I'm also completely and utterly rejoicing at the fact that I get to spend my life with someone so wonderful, someone that I've been waiting to marry since I met him. In fact, it also refreshes me. It's such a lovely conundrum :)

Laurel said...

You know how I feel about babies, and I know exactly what you're going through. And to preface? You guys are going to make amazing parents. I think that having children is scary and wonderful at the same time, and yes, it absolutely changes your life. But I also think it's a natural progression of change. It's only natural to expand the love you guys have for each other into the creation of another part of your family you're going to love just as much. And all the sleepless nights? Will be totally worth it.

dmb5_libra said...

its definitely kids. I want them so badly one day...and then another day i am so glad to be childless. when it comes down to it, i'm just glad i am honest enough with myself to admit i'm too focused on me (read: young and single) to have a child. there are so many people out there that can't be honest with themselves about how much they are truly willing to give and the child suffers in the end.

dreamgirl said...

TOTALLY! I have that same feeling - that one day I def do want kids... but not now. I just can't imagine giving up my life at this moment the way it is.. and so I think that's a sign we're not ready. It will definitely be worth it, and once you're in it I don't think it'll be as scary. But we're young so it's okay to just live our good lives at the moment!

Nilsa S. said...

I love reading about how badly you want children. Because even though I'm quite a few years older than you, I don't have the same urges. Don't get me wrong. I want kids. Someday. But, I don't yearn for them. I don't hear my clock ticking. And I'd be just fine if we waited a few more years. What I desperately want is a little down time. A little peace of mind. The post-wedding settling in. Though, that by no means scares me. It's something I can't wait to embrace!

Misty said...

You know, I am kinda surprised that a "non-parent" could have written that second paragraph.

Girl, you have been doing your homework because that is exactly the way it is. And I love it. Everyone gives up something to pursue their passion/desires/love. It is much the same.

Mandy said...

Marriage scares me, kids scare me. I won't be doing either one soon, the latter maybe not at all. Who knows. I do think that you all will be wonderful together and make wonderful parents. I have done things that completely scared the hell out of me and in the end, those were some of the most rewarding things in my life to date.

The Tomball Three said...

I would be scared of the kids part. I never wanted them ... but I think that's good ... you should know what you want. I am very much hoping your wedding goes off without a hitch and you have a baby very soon after- a perfectly sweet tempered, loving little baby. Good luck!

LoriD said...

I always knew I wanted to be a parent. Homer wasn't so sure, but knew it was important to me. He had the same fears of losing himself and his time. People would tell him horror stories of screaming kids, sleepless nights and sexless marriages. He'll tell you now that those stories were grossly exaggerated.

Parenting is not always easy, but it's not always hard either. Yes, you give up your free time, but that's because your kids become your hobby and your passion. I do know couples who spend very little time together, but it doesn't have to be that way. Parenthood, like marriage, is not something to be entered lightly, but it is more rewarding than you can ever imagine.

Ashley said...

Hi, Jess. I saw your comment on Legally Heidi and since your comments incredibly well-written, I wanted to come check out your blog!

Glad I did. I'm totally, completely with you on this one!

I seem to have be on a roller coaster when it comes to parenthood. One day, I'm all "I want a squishy babeee!" and the next, I'm scared to death of that kind of committment.

I'm sure I'll be back!

Becky said...

Mine wasn't as HUGE of a decision as kids, but when I was graduating from college I REALLY wanted to go volunteer in Delaware for an organization I had been involved with while in school in MN. But I had never been to Delaware, and I only knew a couple people out there, most of whom would be moving home for the summer, so they wouldn't be there anyway. But I did it, and now, looking back, I'm so glad I did. Even though it scared the crap out of me (I had no job lined up and no money in savings when I moved, and I was moving in with a guy I had never met before). It was one of the most enlightening and exciting experiences EVER. And I became a much more independent person because of it.

Now the thing I'm scared of is kids. But I see how rewarding it is for my sisters to have children, even though it is also terribly hard for them at times. And I want that...hard times and all. But it scares the crap out of me.

cady said...

i'm scared about becoming a mother. i'm worried that i won't be a good enough parent or that i'm underestimating just how expensive kids are. but, the fear is definitely not enough to stop us from trying. deep down i know that everything will be ok.

Kyla Bea said...

Aw that’s so sweet! I know that I would be able to rise to the occasion and be a good parent, but I think that’s something that’s down the line for me significantly….but as the wedding approaches these conversations seem to be easier and more frequent. I’m not sure if it’s the amount of estrogen coursing through me or if it’s formalizing where we are in our relationship.

Getting two 12 week old puppies has been a big trial run for parenthood that I didn’t expect it to be. We haven’t slept through the night in a few months, we have to constantly stop what we’re doing to go walk them, take them out side, break up fights, take them to the vet – and trying to learn what they’re trying to communicate to us has been really interesting.

The upside to the puppies is that in another 6 months they’re going to level off completely and will be adults. And they won’t ever date. But the excitement that has come with them, and the frustration and tears, have been worthwhile. And have prompted baby conversations of our own.

My parents had my sister and I when they were very young, and within two years of being married - and they had a terrifically hard time coping, even though they were amazing parents. They were divorced by the time I was 6. My only condition for babies is that my fiance and I have more time together under our belts than our current 4 years together before we get in completely over our heads, even if it's in a good way.

jonniker said...

Uh, yes. Babies. Petrified. PET.RI.FIED. Like you wouldn't believe. I'm so scared. But! I think that being scared is good sometimes. I think doing things that scare us (within reason) is good for us.

And yeah, I'm doing it anyway. I am pregnant, you know. But that doesn't mean I'm not TERRIFIED and thinking WOW THIS WAS SUCH A BAD IDEA.

As for Misty's comment that a non-parent could write the second paragraph, I'm really surprised that someone would say that. I would think if you weren't aware of those facts, you'd been living under a rock, because it seems that the collective goal is to terrify people into never having children by sharing these, and other, more sordid facts. And I felt this way WAY before I got pregnant.

Ashley D said...

Yes, yes, yes. I know exactly what you mean. I want to have kids so badly, but they also terrify me. I love babysitting, playing, and taking care of the little ones, but I know that I am no where near ready to have any of my own. I think for now, my weekly babysitting kids satisfies those baby urges, and also serves as the best birth control possible.

Swistle said...

Nicely put!

Sparkling Cipher said...

That is exactly how I felt before it actually happened to me. Actually, I still feel a little scared and a lot happy about being a mother. I'm still shocked somebody trusted me with a mortgage; how can they let me be totally in charge of this helpless little person? But I would be devastated if anyone told me I'm really not fit to care for her and took her away.

Ms. Karen said...

Because my kids are older and I've blown through a lot of that mind-melting stuff, my most scary wants would be somewhat trivial.

Although I did look forward to seeing who my kids would be when they "grew up," but now my older son is quite independent and that can be scary. Younger one is hot on his heels, too.

But the scariest thing I want? To send my manuscript out for submission. I want to do it, but...

d e v a n said...

You really seem to get it and I think that's so important when you go into having kids, even if it's not for awhile. You guys will make great parents. :)

Sizzle said...

When you really, truly want something and there is risk involved in that want, being afraid is natural. It's pushing past that fear that makes life worth living.

Elizabeth said...

Deciding to get married and deciding to become a parent both scared the crap out of me.
And both of them ARE really hard, don't get me wrong. But none of the things I worried about are the actual things that we have problems with, so really, I might as well not have worried.

Children have this marvelous way of becoming people and making themselves fit in the world.

I always tell people who are wondering if they should go for it that I did worry A LOT about the decision to have a baby before I had my son, but now when I look down at him, I think something like "Oh! If I had known it was going to be YOU, I wouldn't have worried at all."

maggie said...

Everything Elizabeth said.

Tia said...

I have the perfect solution for you! Borrow a friend's baby! They love it, you get baby time, and you still get to sleep and have your own life. My best friend has a 5 month old, and that's what we do. We both get the benefits of it :)

As for the scary thing - for me that was going back to school for my PhD. It necessitated moving 3,000 miles from everything I knew, including my boyfriend, and giving it a shot. It didn't work out (it was the wrong program for me, not that I couldn't have easily passed the classes), but in the end my boyfriend (now husband!) followed me out there and together we moved back home. I don't regret any of it. It was a huge learning experience.

BS said...

I have never in my 28 years thought to myself, "I want a baby." Ever. Not even for a second. And that scares me very much.

Alex said...

Yes, I have wanted something but have been terrified of that something at the same time. It was a relationship. I totally went for it, and it was one of the best choices I've ever made.

I'm guessing babies are a little different though. You can't just break up with a baby if you decide things aren't working out. After reading this however I am confident that you will be a fabulous mother when you decide the time is right.

Penny said...

in a nutshell: yea. it does.

Shelly said...

Yes. Parenthood. Coming from my childhood, with my mother, I was terrified that I would turn out like her no matter what I did. But that, of course, is not the case. And your second paragraph, while true sometimes, is a bit exaggerated. What you have to understand is that all these posts by parents about how much it sucks (sometimes) are mostly exaggerations. Yes, there is a core of truth, but we stretch things because it feels that way right that second. It feels like you never have any free time, but most parents really do. I still read 60-70 books a year, just like I did before kids. It feels like you never see your husband, but sometimes my husband and I stay up until midnight talking. It feels like you have no extra money - well, okay, that one's pretty true. You get my point, though. And even though it changes your life radically, there are so many happy moments and such love and joy that you don't really mind.

Hiya, I'm Kristie. said...

Even though you have no kids yet, I think you get it. It's stressful, tiring and expensive. But it's much more exciting, rewarding and important than anything else you will ever do.

Lindsay said...

I had a fear of permanently moving to the States in 2005, so backed out at the last minute, in a snap decision. Lucky me the boyf moved to Canada and married me, but once I got some clarity I realized I had made the wrong decision geography wise (right decision man wise - he is lovely). Anyway, the geography error can't be undone until 2009 due to school and jobs and it has been a long three yrs. Whatever you do give it a loooooong thought.

Pregnancy wise - I think we are geared by society that the more responsible thing to do is wait, wait, wait. And I now realize that although an option it is not the only option. The last time I thought was unplanned pregnant when I found out I wasn't pregnant I actually cried for what could have been. So I hear ya.

http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/blog/reclaimAmerica

Kelsey said...

I do think you "get it" more than a lot of people before they have kids. For me the scary decision was to go from one child to two. Especially because my first child was in a particularly beastly phase when I got pregnant with number two. It's only been six months with two kids, but so far it is not as scary as I thought!

Erin said...

Yes. Go for it anyways. It is scary, but that's partly what makes it so worthwhile.

jonniker said...

I love Shelly, for starters, because I think -- and hope -- that what she said is true. Because if it weren't, no one would have a second child. They wouldn't.

SLynnRo said...

Great post, great articulation of those feelings.

Alice said...

i've only verrrrrry recently started to realize that i'm pretty sure i want kids. i always suspected i'd ONE DAY feel like i wanted kids, but when i got to be 27 and i still just LIKED kids, but didn't really want any of my OWN, i started doubting i'd ever get it. but after spending sunday meeting my friend's 7 mo old daughter, and being jealous anyone else got to hold her? uh, yeah. that's not normal :-)

Emblita said...

Awww...babies! I totally understand wanting them, but at the same time I can tell you that I loved having those years before kids. When it was just me and hubbs. We solidified our partnership so that the past couple of years with all the rigors of having a small kid we have still felt like partners.
So I recommend both- have your cake and eat it too!

Caitlin said...

I'm sorry Jess, but while I was sleeping did you crawl inside my head and STEAL MY THOUGHTS??
I have been consumed by this very battle for the past....I don't know how long.
Sometimes I tell myself I have to just *stop* reading parent blogs already. Except that they are some of my favorite bloggers who just *happen* to be parents...So, um, I can't stop reading them. But I truly feel that reading parenting blogs has opened my eyes to the world of parenting in a way I never knew possible. It makes me both grateful and terrified to have that kind of insight.

I also think a lot about what kind of parent I want to be. What I want to emulate in my parents, and what I want to make sure NOT to repeat.

I guess what I always come back to is what my Mom has always said: There's never a perfect time to have kids.

Life is messy, but it's so, so good. You're going to be an awesome Mom, Jess.

Katherine said...

Ah, I am one of those people with a young baby who just spent twenty minutes rambling on my blog about my new life stripped away of all it's previous characteristics. Hell, I am still scared of what I want and yet I still want this life so badly it hurts. I am speaking from the trenches, and it is totally worth it.

Maxie said...

I don't think i've ever "gone for it." most of the crap i've been scared of I've just backed down from. It kind of sucks.

tarsi210 said...

I think one of the biggest roadblocks to me feeling confident about doing various "big leaps" in my life is that I don't often feel as old nor as prepared for the leap as I probably am. I mean, I feel...what...early 20s? And look at me, nearly 31, and a daddy to a 10-month-old. Who would have thought? I'm an old hand at changing diapers now, but a year ago I was clueless. I made a huge career jump that I wasn't sure I was ready for, and still sometimes am unsure, but here I am and I'm thriving well.

I guess half the time you just have to leap because otherwise you'll be behind simply because of your perceptions, when in reality, you could have handled it all along.

Bayjb said...

Aww honey I know exactly how that feels, to want something so bad but be so scared about getting it. You and Torsten will make great parents and when the timing is right all the wanting will be answered and your fears will fade.

Dating Trooper - Dating is Warfare said...

Hell yes that happens to me. Especially about having kids. I recently adopted a dog as a baby step towards babies and at first I freaked out at the thought that a living thing needed me so much. But then my boyfriend and I started forming a "team" to care for her and now it feels good.

But even just a pain in the ass dog is a ton of work, so it scares me all the more when I imagine how overwhelming a baby would be. But I'll do it anyway - someday.

If you don't do things that scare you, you will never grow. I try to convince myself that "fear" is actually just "excitement with a twist!"

bren j. said...

I felt just like this before we decided it was time to start 'trying' for a baby. It's pretty easy to forget ever feeling like that now and I have to tell you, even with one very young child, I DO find time to myself every day. Not as much as a selfish person like me would like, but I manage to get in a (albeit quick) uninterrupted shower nearly every day. It seems to be, in large part, about learning to maximize every free moment. I'm not too great at that yet, but I'm working on it. :)