Sunday, May 1, 2011

Why I said "no thanks" to having kids

I was reminded today why I decided a long, long time ago that I would never, ever have children. Too much responsibility!

I told Dwaine when we were dating that I did not want children. This was one of the very few things that I had completely figured out about my life. I guess he was nuts enough about me that he agreed, and we got married. So. That lasted about seven years. Then, the grand adventure of parenthood began.

Parenting, like life, is always in a state of flux. You can never rest on your laurels. Now, we face the scariest thing of all. My children are growing up, first of all; and secondly, they seem to be becoming a lot like me and Dwaine. As in a LOT. What happened to teenage rebellion and separating from parents?

Austin has a lot of anger, and passion (as well as many stellar qualities). He alternates between sounding ultra-conservative to being a flaming independent who gets extremely indignant if anyone says they hate our president. Don't tie him down to one point of view, or one decision about anything. (These are my traits, not necessarily the better ones either.)

Side note: Around these parts, these days, there's a lot of hatred of our president going around. Certain kids apparently talk about how they'd like to see him dead, in fact. Austin says (echoing me) that it comes straight from their parents. This does not surprise me, but it is sad. I remember my own defective moments when our president was George W. Bush and I was ranting about him. Although, of course, I never wanted to see him harmed. I've participated in the ugliness of condemning my political opposites, and the hateful thoughts and speech, and I must remember how it feels to be on the receiving end of it.

And then today, Austin was looking at the fruits of the accumulated work that he and his brother have done around the yard. There is a large ring of logs and an enormous pile of brush near the burn pile that can't be burned because of this drought, and Austin was talking about his vision of cleaning up the place even more. Just like his dad. He is ultra-responsible and a hard worker. (He looks like me, by the way.)

Andrew -- how do I say this kindly? is a smart space cadet. Mentally, he's me, completely. He may do brilliant things, or he may just keep on being an eccentric dreamer. He's sincere, and completely gullible, and a beautiful kind person. Work, he can take or leave, but he will do it because he has realized it earns him brownie points with his dad. As Austin says, Dad never gets mad when you've spent the day working with him! Not about anything. Andrew may not always see eye-to-eye with his dad, but he looks a lot like him, down to his wiry frame. (I speak of Dwaine as he was up till he met and married me, ha ha.)

I didn't really want these little (now big) people to be made in my image, which is so imperfect. It's just too much responsibility. It will be painful to watch them make my mistakes, and see them mirror their parents' greatest shortcomings as well as our strengths. Why can't we just give them all the good, and get rid of all the bad?

The biggest risk of all in having kids is knowing that they will experience pain, and suffering, and that they are always at risk of having something bad happen to them. It's such a high-stakes gamble to have kids. But it's like marriage -- you don't realize what a huge leap you are taking until it's all over and done with and too late. Once you have kids, you can't undo things like you can with a marriage, either. If you could send them back, I'm sure there are many people who would!

But you know that I can't imagine life without these precious additions, who have so greatly enhanced  every experience we've shared together. For me it would be spiritual poverty, indeed, to never have had children.

Now for some late-breaking Easter pictures (now that I spent this entire blog ragging on my kids)! Here's a picture of Dwaine's sister and her family. Becky is seated to the right with the flaming orange hair, and her two daughters (between her and Andrew) and grandkids and son-in-law to be, our kids' cousins and second cousins, are gathered round. My dad and Han came over but stayed inside. Austin's wearing his lucky Irish shirt.

 Here is an action shot during the egg hunt for the youngest four kids (including ours; I asked if they wanted to go hunt eggs and they both said yes).

You can see our front-yard garden and all the potted plants, including some vegetables in buckets, that Dwaine has so carefully tended. They need frequent watering as the days heat up and the drought continues, but they look beautiful.

Another shot of the egg hunt. Andrew, background, is looking for any stragglers. Austin went for the hardboiled eggs and left the plastic eggs with candy for the little ones.

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