Does having kids suck?

August 12th, 2014 | Posted by Erica House in Life

Last year I wrote a post sharing my thoughts on an internal debate I was having; should I have children, or not? In the back of my mind I’ve always wanted to have kids, but I hadn’t found anyone who instilled in me a burning desire to become a mother. I know so many older females who are childless by choice that I’m confident I will die happy should my life take a similar path.

Now, I’m definitely in favor of birthing some babies, but I’m scared shitless.

I’ve lectured on child development for years, I’ve read more parenting books then most parents have, and I’ve been around kids as a nanny and volunteer since my first job at a childcare agency when I was 16. I know having kids is rough, but lately I feel like every time I get on facebook or check twitter someone is sharing an article on how horrific it really is to be a mother.

Having Kids

Here’s the cliche; a new mom is at her wits end after going on 2 hours of sleep. She’s covered in baby piss, too tired to shower, surrounded by a dirty house, can’t remember the last adult conversation she had, and alternates between moments of depression and extreme baby-heaven bliss.

I’m sure having a kid is hard. Really, really, hard. But, is it actually that bad? I mean, if I start breeding sometime soon and I’m working from home on the blog/freelance writing, will I be so overwhelmed with a new baby that I can’t even shower regularly or fold laundry? Forgive my ignorance but I just don’t get it. I really don’t. Is it the lack of sleep that makes things difficult? The sudden change of lifestyle? Or is it the new sleep & sex deprived marital stress that makes surviving day-to-day life so difficult?
SomeeCardsArticles like these, which I assumed are intending to be comical, make me angry at how they perpetuate the ‘parenting sucks’ mentality:

20 Ways Kids Suck the Life Out of Their Parents

More Examples of Why Having Kids Sucks

10 Ways We are Tortured By Our Babies (including genital mutilation, sleep deprivation, and solitary confinement.)

In graduate school I remember taking a Social Psych class where we got into a huge debate on the topic of having children. One of the articles we read basically stated that the idea that kids will bring you happiness is a myth perpetuated by our culture to ensure the survival of our species. That parents try to convince non-parents to have kids because they are secretly (or maybe outspokenly) miserable, and want others to suffer as they have.

One of the best articles I read on this topic came from Time magazine. Results of their meta-analysis (analyzing the data from lots of studies) showed:

Certain types of parents (e.g., young parents and parents with small children) are particularly unhappy, while other types (e.g., fathers, married parents, and empty nesters) report especially high life satisfaction, happiness, or meaning. In other words, whether or not children go hand in hand with happiness depends on many factors, including our age, marital status, income and social support, as well as whether our children live with us  and have difficult temperaments. Children give our lives purpose, infuse fun and pride into our lives, and enrich our identities. At the same time, they are also vectors for worry, anger, and disappointment; they deprive us of energy and sleep; and they strain our finances and our marriages. Not surprisingly, research suggests that the downsides of parenting are more evident when kids are very young or teenagers, and when we lack the resources (monetary, social, developmental) to manage them.

It sounds like if children are in the future for me I’ve waited until a perfect time to have them. I’m mature (at least more mature than I was in my early-mid 20’s!) I’ve reached my educational goals, I’m somewhat financially stable (would be more so if I was married, which I’d like to be before having children), I’ve traveled and I feel like I’m ready for my next phase in life.

Most research I’ve read on parenting and happiness boils down to this; adults without kids are happier, but adults with kids experience more satisfaction with life.

I think I’m ready to be satisfied.

If you have kids what’s the worst thing about parenting? The best?
If you don’t have kids what are your biggest fears about parenting?





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85 Responses

  • Michele @ paleorunningmomma says:

    For me all of the cliches were true – I didn’t sleep for a long time and I still lose sleep over my kids. My husband and I are wrecked a lot of the time. but I think above all else the thing that makes parenting truly difficult is the emotional part. You put your heart and soul into your kids and don’t have the choice to remove them!

    It’s kind of like running a perpetual marathon for the rest of your life :) or at least for a few years!

    • Erica House says:

      I’m convinced the first few years are the most difficult. Do you see it getting any better now that yours are getting a bit older?

      • JL M says:

        I cannot handle the teenage years. I was am amazing mom when they were younger and had no trouble keeping up and providing for their needs. I felt good about myself.
        Now I feel like I’m a failure and I don’t know if I will ever recover from this stage of my life. #painfultruth #neverspoken

  • Alma says:

    I’m in a similar boat. I just turned 36 yesterday and never wanted kids until well-after my mother died in my mid-20s. Prior to that, I was hard-core against having kids. I wanted a career a life where I could be free. I looked around, and everyone I knew constantly complained about having kids. I figured I was okay being the kooky “aunt” to my friends’ kids. My mother’s death changed a lot of things for me. Until I was thirty, I was in a relationship with a man who was ambivalent about kids. We eventually fell apart, but that breakup really made me reevaluate and decide what I wanted. I realized that I did feel like I was missing something in not having family. My mother was the last real family I had. But I didn’t want to be a single mom, and I wanted to find someone who really had similar ideas about parenting. My last boyfriend didn’t fit that at all. We fell apart for other reasons–namely, he lived in Canada.

    Earlier this year, I really started feeling the pressure to have children soon (because I’m getting old!). But I know I’m still not ready, and I haven’t met anyone I even like. It’s odd because I actually feel a lot younger as I get older. So, I made a decision to adopt a child if it doesn’t happen the old fashioned way by the time I’m 42. My mother had me when she was 41, back in the late 70s, so I know it can be done. I do want to have my own children, though, so it will be really hard to give up that dream and know my parents will disappear with me. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’m sure I’ll make peace with it if it does. And I know I’ll be a great mom, whenever it happens.

    I sometimes feel like yelling at my friends who seem so joyless when they talk about their children. I mean, no one’s perfect and it probably does suck sometimes, but there’s too much being blamed on being a parent. Sometimes, life sucks because people failed to prepare or don’t take responsibility for their own actions. It does make a difference. A kid knows when their parent’s face doesn’t light up or when their parents’ see life as misery. We teach that to kids. I will do everything I can to avoid being Ms. Perfect with a spotlessly clean house and children who think they’re burdens. I will love my life and never use my kids as an excuse to accept stagnation and misery.

    • Erica House says:

      Happy belated birthday! I think your plan sounds great. I was always ambivalent about kids and figured my choice would be made if I ended up falling in love with someone who wanted them. If I never met anyone, or the man of my dreams didn’t want any, I’d be okay. I still think about adoption as well! I think you are spot on with parents using kids as an ‘excuse’ for their shitty lives. I think it’s easier to blame being tired/depressed/poor on having kids then it is to maybe realize that THEY could change things they disliked about their live if they really wanted to.

  • SuzLyfe says:

    I think one of my biggest fears about parenting is the pregnancy. I know that sounds dumb, but I do not deal with nausea well, and also, we don’t know what will happen when we try to get me pregnant (like, what the changes will incur in my body). It is such a grey area, and it is honestly terrifying!

  • Lisa T says:

    As a new mother (my son is 2 weeks old today), I had similar questions and fears of the unknown about pregnancy and how life would change. Looking at how precious he is, it was worth the morning sickness, the having to stop running at 8 months in, the 29 hour labor that ended with am emergency c section, the current lack of sleep as I have become his 24 hour drive thru food option, and many other things that are hard about being a mother. None of that matters when I look at him. Even know, being early morning, I sit here in bed and listen to him through the monitor. Despite the difficulties of being pregnant and labor/delivery, it was worth it because when I look at him I see this sweet being that grew inside of me. Seeing his the smirk he gets before he loads his diaper, how he gets fussy when he gets hungry, and many other things are worth it. This is my son, he is part of me. In the end, it was worth having him and I can’t wait to see what he becomes.

    (Eventually I will run again when the dr clears me and when that happens, he will be out there with me.)

    • Erica House says:

      I’m so grateful to hear this! Especially from someone who, by all accounts, is going through one of the hardest phases of mothering right now. When I think about having a baby I picture being immensely grateful to have a healthy child and the opportunity to stay at home with them, but I so often hear nothing but complaints. I can’t believe you were able to run until 8 months in!

  • Coco says:

    As the mother of college kids, I long for the days when sleepless nights were caused by teething, when I ^knew^ I was right when I said “no”, and when my kids talked to me non-stop, so I tend to laugh at people worried about the early days. ;-) I know those negative articles are extreme, but I think they balance the “rainbows and unicorns” messages about parenting that have dominated mass media for so long. Parenting is hard, but it’s hard for different reasons at different stages. Parenting also is rewarding, and usually brings more heart-busting joy than tears of frustration. I think you have a good relationship with your parents- what do they say? ;-)

    • Erica House says:

      My brother and I were both … surprises, so I think my parents would have preferred waiting until they were older and more financially stable (they were young, dad was in school, and mom didn’t work.) I’m sure they don’t regret having us, but my Mom’s also said she’s be totally fine if neither my brother or I had kids.

  • It’s freaking awesome to have kids (I have 3 boys now 12, 15, 17), . . . but also an insane amount of work and worry and worse. But somehow, it all seems like what was divinely meant for me, even though I was on the fence with my feelings about being a mom before I got pregnant.

  • I asked my mom this EXACT question last week. Her response? At times I was overcome with worry for you. At times things got hard. But not for one second did it ever suck.
    Mom knows best. ;)

  • ErikaMC says:

    One of my biggest pet peeves is parents complaining about their kids. I guess, to me, it isn’t hard and absolutely does not suck to have a child. I think if you realize and accept the fact that your life is not going to be the same once you have children it might be easier to handle. I also think parents make things a lot harder than they need to be. My son is already/only 3 and I miss those sleepless nights with him but also look forward to watching him become more independent each day. Parenting is what you make it – if you think it sucks than it probably will but if you love it and cherish it than it will be the best thing ever.

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you for this! Why do you think parenting isn’t hard, but so many others do? Are you a SAHM?

      • ErikaMC says:

        I am not a SAHM and I don’t know if that makes parenting harder or easier. I work 40 hours a week outside of the home. I guess I’ve never thought anything was too hard because from the beginning we’ve had a routine and I can prioritize my time and have also wanted to devote everything to my son. Sure, I still have a life outside of being a mom but being a parent is my first choice so I accept everything that comes along with it.

        • Erica House says:

          Perhaps working outside the home helps keep you feeling like an individual, and not just ‘mom’, and that makes you a better parent? I have so many thoughts now I think I’ll be doing a SAHM vs working mom post soon.

  • Jessica says:

    It is easy and very accepted to find the negative in everything. I try very hard not to “brag” about my children because most people hate that. That said … my children are my universe. I had my daughter at 19, she is the best thing that ever happened to me. Now at 36 she is my best friend and I want to hear everything she thinks. (Don’t get me wrong, I do lay the smack-down when she decides to be a teenager!) Overall though I find joy in what she is doing in her life and guiding her to be the person she is meant to be. Her childhood was hard, we moved a lot … but every time we moved her school was picked out and applied to before we even had a place to live. She always came first.
    I had my son at 30. He is very different than his sister in that he is more joyous. Always laughing. Everyday he tells me jokes and tells me how wonderful things are in his world. I take pride in that.
    If my house was messy it was because I was usually mesmerized by my baby and taking a nap with her/him. With both children I took 2 years off after they were born to just be with them. Now I work on their schedule. Everyone says to “get a real job” but the truth is my job is to make sure my children are good upstanding citizens that know how to survive in the world. I guess, my point in all this … Children are what you make of them. Just like everything else in life. =)

    • Erica House says:

      Lol – why can I picture you laying the smack down so well when you need to? I love that you had your kids at two dramatically different ages – such a unique perspective. If I have kids I will do as you are and work on their schedule. I hope to stay home with them most of the time the first few years (would love to continue teaching 1-2 classes to get out of the house a bit) and then working part-time when they are in school. I realized last year that I’d prefer to spend 20 years working full-time raising kids, then working full-time at a career. I don’t think it’s possible to do both (and I’ve been debating writing a post on that for months but I’m afraid of the backlash!)

  • It’s easy to lose your sense of self when you have kids. But if you make it a priority, it is possible to maintain it. My kids drive me absolutely batty sometimes with the whining and complaining, but you forget about all of that the second they do something cute like walk over and give you a kiss.

  • Lindsay says:

    You could adopt me! Apparently, I’m 4. Because I snickered at this: “I think I’m ready to be satisfied.” And then proceeded to sing “I can’t get no, saTISfaaaaction” loudly at work before saying “bow chicka bow bow”.

    Last year, I was right there with you on the debate of should I/shouldn’t I. It was the whole “I’d rather regret not having kids than regret having them” debate that is always spinning around in my head. A year later, I still haven’t found that special someone, but I’m completely okay with that. Maybe in a few years, maybe not. I’d be perfectly content dating a man with children – I don’t need my own/biological children, I just want to be a Momma in some capcity, I think. Even if the closest I get is being a rocker in the neonatal unit. I have so much love to give – I just want to give it.

    That sounded sappy. I need more coffee. And maybe sleep. Definitely sleep.

    • Erica House says:

      Hahahaha – giggidy.

      I think you need a cat. Being a cat mom is a very rewarding role! I don’t know if I could date someone with kids again – potential for a whole mess of drama! And I’m a super jealous biatch :)

  • Suzie says:

    Thanks for this post! My husband and I are happily married without children, but they would be a welcome addition to our family any time. I get so stinkin’ tired of seeing my friends and strangers post about how often their kids are giving them trouble. If I went by what they said, I would never want to have kids!! Now, to be fair, I have no idea what it’s like to be a parent, and I don’t truly know the levels of frustration. However, I have been frustrated in life and I make a choice not to continuously dwell on the negative. I hope that is how I will be as a mother, too. Anyway, I’m glad I’m not the only childless adult out there who feels like the complaints about kids are a little out of hand.

    • Erica House says:

      Especially when the parents chose to have kids. Like, you signed up for this – get over it! On the other hand I hate how taboo it is for parents to say ANYTHING along the lines of “I regret having my kid” because, I think that’s okay to feel sometimes. People regret marriages, career choices, lots of things. I think you can question why you had kids without automatically going to hell. I just don’t think parents should be able to blame things they dislike in their lives on their children, and I’m tired of seeing all these ‘mommy confessions’ talk about how miserable they secretly are.

  • I share your fears, part of it is that the mom’s I know are stressed out basket cases who lose it over small things and like to vent to me, the childless friend. It’s scary.

    But I would still like kids because I think of all the love I have for my 4 little siblings and would like to have more people in my life to love that fiercely.

    • Erica House says:

      I do feel like Mom’s should be able to vent, and likely do so to non-Moms since they know there will be very little judgement! I also feel similar about why I want to have kids. I want to create this tiny little world with me and my family where we all have shared memories, plans, and routines. Where we all know we are loved and that we are wanted.

  • Jodi says:

    No lie, being a mom is HARD, and there are times it sucks, but it’s WORTH IT. So very worth it. Hugs and kisses and I love you and seeing things through your kid’s eyes (the holidays are simply magical when you have a child who still sees the magic in it all to experience it with). Watching them grow and learn and making memories that will last forever. I breastfed both my kids til they were 15 months old and neither of them slept through the night until they were done nursing. I was tired! But I wouldn’t change it. It was a very hard time for my marriage (the first year of each kid’s life) because we were tired and snapped easier, but we made it through because that’s what you do. Nothing is ever perfect. It doesn’t mean it is horrible and you shouldn’t do it. Summer has been both up and down. The kids fought more and that made me crazy – oh God, the bickering! – but we also did so many fun things together and took trips and had so much fun. My 7 year old starts school tomorrow and as ready as I am to be back to routine and have a few hours to myself, I’ll miss him. The 4 year old goes back in a couple weeks and I just want to make sure we get the most out of these next two weeks together! I think there is this tendency for people to either only post about how crappy things are or how amazing they are, and really, parenting and life in general fall in between both. :)

    • Erica House says:

      You just described exactly how I envision life with kids! I remember fighting constantly with my brother which I’m sure drove Mom nuts, but I also have the most amazing childhood memories of summer beach days, camping, holiday traditions and just having the funnest time ever. How did you and your husband survive the first year? Any advice?

  • Jenny says:

    I’ve never considered having kids to be sucky. Sure you’re tired, sure I went to work on more than one occasion with spit up on my shirt (proud markings of a mama in my book!), but the time is so short in the grand scheme of things.

    The only thing I ever worry about is doing a good job. You only get one shot. There’s no dress rehearsal. So I always want to make sure I ask myself “is this decision going to screw my baby/babies up for life?” They are literally your heart walking around outside your body!

    I would never trade any of those contemplations for anything in the world. And I think being a good parent means you do worry about things like that. Always.

    I think some people are just overly dramatic.

    Then again I’m also not a fan of women who act like they need to live in a bubble because they’re “with child”. Get out there! Live! Do things! I went through my first pregnancy alone because my husband was overseas. I fixed things around the house, maintained 2 acres of land, you name it. By myself. Back in the day, women were out working in fields while pregnant, squatted by a tree to give birth, and went right back to work! Suck it up buttercup!
    Clearly I’m exaggerating for effect, but you get me.

    (I’ll get off my soapbox now. Lol)

    Essentially, its really not as bad as people make it sound. You will make a great mama.

    • Erica House says:

      “Back in the day, women were out working in fields while pregnant, squatted by a tree to give birth, and went right back to work! Suck it up buttercup!” – LOL. I do think women are under MUCH more stress now then they used to be. Back in the day women’s primary role was to care for the young, and help with cooking/cleaning. That’s about it. Now, the myth of the modern supermom makes women feel like they have to have kick-ass careers, pinterest perfect birthday parties, banging sex with their hot husbands, all while training for their next marathon. I think that’s where a lot of the stress/frustration comes in.

  • Having your own children is worlds removed from encounters with others’ children. Your own children become entwined in your soul and you begin to wonder what you ever did without them. We complain about our kids, we bitch about our lives with them, but really, that’s just talk. Just like any other complaint about work or school, etc. Sure, some things about it suck, but none of it compares to how absolutely worth it they are. It took me six years to be ready for #2 (coming soon!), but in the big picture, these little people are enriching our lives. There are going to be amazing stories, road trips, and holidays around the table as a family down the road. I thought for a long time that I maybe didn’t want kids. Then I had one. And now I’m doing it again. Must be worth it:) That’s just me though. I don’t condemn anyone that decides not to have children. I just know for me, the choice is now clear.

    • Erica House says:

      Congrats on #2 soon! I love hearing that you are so open to the idea that not everyone wants kids. I hate when parents pressure non-parents and make it sound like they are horrible people missing out on life just because they don’t want the same things they do. I always thought I’d want my kids closer in age (just to get it over with and have my body back to myself sooner!) but I’m sure having a six year old will be SO much easier than having a 2-3 year old when #2 comes.

  • Friends/family/ society have scared me and Josh into waiting to have kids for a long time. I can’t wait to have a family one day but I love my life right now and love that we get to be young and just focus on us. I’m nervous for the changes life will bring when we have kids. I’m really optimistic that they will be for the better though!

    • Erica House says:

      What did they say that scared you off from having them now?

      • You’re so smart to wait. Wait until you’re older to have kids, they change everything. This time of just the two of you being young, getting to travel and be together and be on no one’s schedule but your own is going to be the best time of your life. Wait until you’re closer to 30, 20s are for having fun. Your needs and wants go out the window when you have kids. Just alllll this stuff that make Josh and I wonder if we’ll ever want to have kids! I mean we definitely do, and the same people who tell us this tell us how much they love having kids and they’re so glad they do, but holy crap!

        • Erica House says:

          Lol – one good thing about being single most of my 20’s was that I never heard a lot of those! Very little pressure put on a single person to have kids. I agree that I think waiting until you are closer to 30/early 30s sounds best. When I was at Fitbloggin this year I actually heard a group of young (probably your age) girls talking about having kids. They all had a few already and one said something like, “I wouldn’t dream of having any kids past 27.” I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. One, you have no idea who is in your audience and two, I’d rather enjoy my 20’s then pop out babies so I can be an empty nester at 40!

  • slimsanity says:

    I’m pretty terrified of having nightmare children. And just birthing a child in general…

    • Erica House says:

      I’d like to think that if parents do a good enough job they won’t end up with nightmare children, but I’m sure I’d be the one exception to that rule!

  • I’m 44 and have 5 children. Yes, 5. I love my kids. While there are challenges that make it frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I homeschool my kids, too, so we spend a lot of time together. My oldest is 18 and I’ll be taking her to college in about a month. SO not ready to see her go! My youngest is almost 6 and is quite the handful but he is also such a hoot. That kid is so fun just to listen to! I have so much fun with my kids. We have all kinds of inside jokes and our own little sense of humor.

    Do you lose sleep when they are little? Yes. Are poopy diapers gross? Yes. Do I daydream about having a whole day just to be alone? Sometimes. But it’s all worth it.

    And for the record, I really don’t do well with other people’s kids. That’s one thing that worried me about having kids because I was never really into babysitting as a teen–because I didn’t really like other people’s kids all that much. It’s different when they are yours.

    And being pregnant and feeling that life inside you move around…, I miss that. I’m done having kids now and I still miss that feeling. There is nothing like when your baby smiles at you for the first time. I wanted more kids but this was all my body could do–8 pregnancies and 5 kids. I tried for more, but it wasn’t in the stars for me.

    Having kids doesn’t suck. Definitely does not suck. :)

    • Erica House says:

      5 kids sounds amazing! I grew up with just one sibling and thousands of miles away from all of my extended family so I always wanted a big family, but I think that since I’m starting late it won’t be in the cards for me. I also may homeschool my kids as well depending on how life turns out the next few years. I’ve always thought that being pregnant would be the most incredible experience in the world, but then I read all those horror stories about how terrible you feel for 9 months and I’m not sure what to believe.

      • Well, it depends on the woman. I have never had horrible pregnancies. Yes, I had morning sickness for several weeks and the expected aches and pains associated with being at full term. But I loved feeling my babies kick and move around. Coolest feeling in the world. I thought it was amazing.

  • alexis says:

    I struggle with this as well. I like children and I am patient enough to enjoy them but I also really like “giving them back” when I or they become cranky or tired or overwhelmed. With my own child(ren) that would not be an option and I really worry about that. As someone above said, your own children are very different from someone else’s, but frankly I’m terrified… Especially since I was a very opinionated and bossy child… it will be my luck I get one exactly like myself….

    • Erica House says:

      Lol – I think my mom’s revenge will be enacted when I have my own daughter and she is just as much of a nightmare as a teenager as I was.

  • Before I got pregnant last year, I was scared shitless of giving birth. However, as time went out, my fears completely diminished. Now I can’t wait to experience a full pregnancy and birth, but I’m more afraid of something going wrong. I try not to think about that though! Like you, I didn’t know if I wanted kids for a long time. I was in an eight year relationship, and for some reason I could never picture myself having kids with my boyfriend in the long run. However, a few months after meeting my now husband, I realized how much I did- but with him. I love your mindset about waiting to have kids and doing you first. Tyler and I both have degrees (he’s pursuing his masters as well), jobs (well mine isn’t what I want my career to be, but it’s making pretty decent money haha), are financially stable, and have traveled. So many people have a rocket up their butt to have kids when they need to take care of themselves and their relationship first!

    • Erica House says:

      I just see so many women seem resentful over not being able to go to school, travel or have a job before having kids. I think it’s a ‘grass is greener’ problem. They may feel trapped and unfulfilled, but I have multiple degrees and have had a great career and can still feel unfulfilled! I know now that it’s all about mindset. Being a parent or being a career woman it’s going to be as good as you want it to be.

  • Christina says:

    For me, the hardest part of being a parent is that I vividly remember my “old life” – those carefree days when I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I miss eating out at adult restaurants, meeting friends for a spontaneous happy hour, and not having to handle all the coordination and organization that comes with having a child. If I’m being honest, I really miss those days! But now I have my beautiful daughter, and for all the hard days, I couldn’t imagine my life without her. She is my heart!

    • Erica House says:

      I LOVE you being honest! I know parts of parenting have to suck – bad. I want to go into having kids as prepared as I can be with realistic expectations. I prefer to have a lot of ‘me’ time now alone (reading, watching TV, working) and I think that may be my biggest struggle adjusting to life with kids.

  • I had my son at 22 and I was probably nowhere near ready to have him at the time. That being said I don’t regret it and he is really the best thing that happened to me. It sucked having to share a room with him while living with my parents but now that we are on our own and he is 4 1/2, he is like a little man. He is my best little buddy, we have good conversations, do a lot of fun stuff, visit museums, etc. I also managed to finish law school with him around and though it was extremely hard at times, it’s so worth it. I understand people that want to wait to have kids to have their lives now, but I couldn’t imagine being in my 40s with little kids running around.

    • Erica House says:

      Wow – I ca’t believe you were able to finish law school with a toddler! That’s incredible. I think it’s hard for anyone to imagine a life dramatically different from their own. Just as you cannot picture young kids in your 40’s, I couldn’t picture having kids anytime before now (and if I got pregnant today I’d be 31 when I had my first!)

  • Annie says:

    Well you certainly have interesting timing on this post… because I found out I’m pregnant a few hours ago! Ha.

    I’m currently 34 years old and have been with my fiance for eight years. We considered at one point to go childless – we’ve done some incredibly fun things and I just LOVE the freedom I had in life (train for a marathon? sure! plan a trip to italy? sure! go on a girls only weekend booze cruise to mexico? let’s go!). It’s also an awesome feeling to know our paychecks go to us, us, us. (And our dog)

    However, in the past couple of years, we’ve had family who previously vehemently planned on going the childless route suddenly spout children, including my brother and sister in law who popped out twins in January! It very much inspired conversation between us that resulted in us deciding that: 1) we love each other, 2) live quite comfortably, 3) are both emotionally mature, and 4) he’s been harboring a secret dream to be a father of a Major League Baseball player, LOL.

    Anyway! To wrap this up, I just have to say that it’s is absolutely OKAY to go childless if you really want! You will, instead, becomes the absolute and greatest aunt ever and will be the one that everyone’s child will run to for fun, hugs and tell all their secrets to that they could not tell their parents. But the best part? You get to spoil them and then they GO HOME, whoop! Win-win, if you ask me. :)

    On the other hand, just know that if you are unsure, sometimes all it takes is meeting the right person to suddenly bring thoughts of reproduction to mind. I don’t know how to say it any other way, but it’s like just the thought of the man you are so in love with interact with the child you both made with unconditional love is so damn sexy and make you wanna drag him back in bed and make baby #2. (At the moment, my fiance is googling and sending me articles about where I am with my pregnancy, which makes me burst into tears and yet demand him to come home from work NOW). ;-)

    Good luck, and remember that only YOU know what is best for yourself!

    • Erica House says:

      Oh my goodness congratulations!! I hope things turn out in my life as they are for you. I’ve always thought that I’d want to have a kid if I met someone who I loved SO much that I wanted walking eternal proof of our love for one another. Sounds so cheesy, but I don’t know of a better reason to want to have a kid with someone! Do you think you are ready to leave your prior child-free life behind? How do you think you’ll handle the transition into mommyhood?

  • Annie says:

    Thank you! :)

    Oh I definitely think that it takes someone you not only love, but actually like a lot to create a link with someone eternally. I mean, when you’ve lived so deliciously selfish for so long, you better like that person to give up all that freedom! :p

    Last night, I did panic slightly when I realized that I was late. I started thinking about alllll the things I may give up and all the things in my life I have not yet done (nothing big, just silly stuff like “But I have not been pulled by a bunch of dogs on a sled in Alaska!” – cue tears). I even had a nightmare about it afterwards! But when the test came out positive this morning, all those dark feelings went away and I started getting very, very excited (and weepy, because I’ve been crying every day for the past few days arrrrrgh). So, as of last night I was *not* ready to leave my child-free life behind, but as of this morning, YES I am.

    As for transitioning into mommy life, I’m not sure! We did adopt a dog together, which I suppose was a “practice baby.” After having cats most of my adult life, it was quite the shocker to have this wiggly, drooly, and poopy being depend on my every need. (Ten points to cats for being so ridiculously easy) As cute as the little guy was, I would not have been able to handle him on my own – thank goodness for my fiance. So I guess the answer to your question is, as long as my fiance is there, there will be a very good chance I will continue to maintain my sanity. ;)

    • Erica House says:

      “deliciously selfish” – yeah, that basically sums up my life the last few years!

      Haha – I suddenly envision you (even though I have no clue what you look like) doing the Alaskan Idiatrod with a baby in your arms. I’m sure you will alternate between totally embracing your future baby life, and mourning the life you are leaving behind. I think a pet is a good practice kid! Travis and I have had to talk out some serious health issues about Salem and he’s always been so rational and supportive listening to me. I’m sure that’s a good sign :)

  • In short, yes you will be so overwhelmed that you won’t be able to shower or fold laundry. That’s a given and you can’t fully understand the hows or whys of it until you’re there (I know that’s annoying, but it’s true).

    As someone who always wanted to be a mom and then was completely thrown off by a super fussy baby and PPD, I really appreciate all the openness about the negative aspects of child rearing. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into when we decided to have a child. Not a bit. I felt like everything I had heard or read was all about how awesome it was going to be.

    Now that I’ve been a parent for a few years and have two kids, I still appreciate the posts about it, but I do feel like there’s an overabundance.

    You need to have kids now so we can all see what you think when you have your own. :)

    • Erica House says:

      I appreciate your honesty! Your family is beautiful, and I’m so glad I took a moment to check out your blog. PPD is devastating. I can’t imagine anything more frustrating during those first few weeks/months. I’m glad it’s becoming more mainstream to talk about since there is NOTHING at fault with the mother. Just like depression it’s not under the person’s control.

      My poor child would be an ongoing psychological experiment! I’m sure it would be my greatest work :)

      • Thank you for stopping by. I know I didn’t even have PPD as bad as some do, so sometimes I stick to calling mine extended baby blues because I didn’t experience it as strongly as others even though I felt like I could barely keep my head above water for months. It’s definitely good that it’s being talked about more and that’s a big reason why I wanted to write a post about it (thank you for sharing it). I’m very open about my experience because I had no idea what it could be like and I think it’s important that others know what could happen.

  • Callie says:

    I’ve thought about this a lot lately, since I’m dating someone who wants to have them. My biggest fear would be feeling trapped, bored, resentful or regretful, and to be honest, the physical changes scare me, too. Let me know if you do a followup piece, I’ve found a ton of great articles about it.

  • SarahMTSBB says:

    I am so familiar with this internal debate. I was mostly single after college into my 30’s and gave up hope that it would change. I liked being single, independent, and free! So free that I could randomly flee my home state of OH for NC. Somehow I met my future husband on my house hunting day. We’ve been together about 4 years, married since June 2013, and I am now 35 so we need to decide.

    I have a pro con list that I ponder in my head every few days and never feel closer to a decision. I think that it’s bc I was single for so long that I made peace with the idea of not having kids. I am a huge pet person and my dog is like my kid. I feel like I should be 100% without a doubt sure that I want kids before we try which is probably ridiculous. I’m also terrified of pregnancy and labor/delivery. Oh, and newborns freak me out too. But I don’t want to wait until it’s too late and regret it. We each have only one sibling and they aren’t having kids so I won’t be an aunt, a mom, or a grandma if we don’t. It is SO HARD and stressful a decision! How do couples decide when they are on the fence?!

    • Erica House says:

      “How do couples decide when they are on the fence?!” Oh man I think that’s one of life’s biggest questions! For me – when I started to really think about how much work, time and money would go into having kids it came down to which would I regret more. Having kids, or not having kids. Honestly, I think when I’m 60 looking back I’d be much happier if I had spent my adult years raising a family, then if I had just poured my energy into a career.

  • Jes says:

    Awesome post! My personal take on it is that parenthood, like anything else, is what you make it. It’s all about perspective. Is the fact that the baby peed all over the dog, carpet, you the worst thing in the world? No, you HAVE to just laugh.

    Of course this is not taking into account any medical conditions, etc. that might make it more challenging for someone to adjust. Yes, it’s hard, but I’ve never felt like I couldn’t take a shower because I was so overwhelmed (although I have friends who feel this way).

    I think the key to being able to work and be a mom and stay reasonably sane is to pick the right partner who shares the responsibility with you close to 50/50 and have lots of detailed discussions about what your partnership will look like after baby makes 3 (who will stay home in the beginning, how much nannies cost, how you NEED weekly Yoga, etc.). Basically, anything you can do to bond with your partner and plan ahead (guys love this, ha!) is going to help make the transition to becoming a parent smoother, especially for working mothers. And I suggest starting that the day you come home with baby, not the day you go back to work :)

    Ok, parenting advice done. That’s exciting you are thinking about kids. As much work as they are, they do make your life feel more fulfilled. And you might be lucky and get one that actually sleeps!

    • Erica House says:

      Travis and I have already had SO many discussions about kids. How we’d handle the different house/child rearing duties, what finances would be like, my NEED to run regularly, etc. I think we are on the same page on almost everything (we do have some disagreements on how we’d actually raise the kids!) I think the fact that we are older, childless, and set financially will make parenting MUCH ‘easier’ for us then if we had kids when we were younger.

      • Jes says:

        I’m so happy to read that! You already have a leg up in the adventure then. It’s sad how many working moms don’t have the full support of their partners. I’m liking this Travis guy :)

  • Jill says:

    I always wanted to be a mom but now that I’m getting older (35) and am not even in a relationship I’m quite scared it may never happen for me. I’ve seen all my friends and family go through it and I’m also a nanny so I know how tough it can be but it’s something is just really love to experience while I have this physical body and this time here on earth!

  • I’m a mother of two (18 months and 3 years) having kids was never in my plans. Then I met someone who having kids (as long as we could) needed to be part of the equation. I made it clear that I expected it to be an equal and I meant equal partnership and we talked alot about what that meant. I think that made all the difference, I actually did want kids if there was someone who wanted to have them with me and wanted everything that went along with it. The 9 months of nausea with my first, the surprise 2nd. He even took parental leave so I could go back to work with my second. That was what I needed to be a happy mom.

    On another note, I recently read an article that the gist is new moms constantly want to know when it gets easier? Newborn, toddler, preschooler etc… The article said, stop telling new moms it gets easier because what they are really asking is when do I get my old life back? And you don’t, your life will always be different and more work once you have a child. Once I read that, I really embraced it and stopped being so negative about all of the not so much fun stuff and realized, yes there are some things I would like to do but I don’t really want my old life back.

    • Erica House says:

      Thank you for your insight! I can see how many mothers dissatisfaction may stem from wanting something they can never have again, their ‘old life.’ All change is stressful, even good change (sometimes ESPECIALLY good change like marriage and babies!) I also think having a partner who understands that raising kids is a shared responsibility is critical. I honestly don’t know how single mothers, or mothers with worthless husbands, do it.

  • Krista says:

    I think, as with everything in life, having children or not is a personal decision and “results may vary”. ;) For me, I’ve never had a desire to have kids…it doesn’t appeal to me. Needless to say, I had to stop dating several guys due to the kid thing (they wanted kids and, clearly, that’s one of the few things in a relationship that can’t be compromised on!). I’m perfectly content with my fur-baby and everything that comes with the freedom of being child-less. That said, I have friends who seem to have been born to be mothers…motherhood is in their genes. I just wish more people would think through it more (like you’re doing) instead of assuming that being a parent is what everyone is “supposed” to do. If all parents *truly wanted* to be parents, I think we’d have a better society overall. It’s hard for me to hear of all the people who REALLY REALLY want children and are unable to conceive…yet there are others who are popping out kids left-and-right and may not be as prepared or fit for parenthood. Alas, that’s thanks to Mother Nature. :) Whatever you choose, you’re already a great mother to Salem so I know you’d be a wonderful mother to a human baby, too! :)

    • Erica House says:

      I wish people could stop being so critical of women who know that motherhood isn’t the right path for them. In my mid-20’s when I was ‘meh’ about having kids some women with children would get SO defensive – like my choice not to automatically meant I thought they were dumb for having them. It’s so absurd. It’s like picking out a career. I don’t get offended when someone wants to do something different then me. Why is the choice to kid/not to kid allowed to be openly criticized by others?

  • Shannon says:

    I LOVE this!!!! I spent a decade saying all the same things you did in your post. Then I accidentally got knocked up by the guy I had been dating for 4 months…
    To say that I was scared out of my mind was an understatement – people always complain about how their partner doesn’t help, their kids only cry and throw tantrums, and how their social life had died. How was I, someone that never wanted kids and in a new relationship, going to make it?

    My daughter is now 11 months and her dad and I got married. Not because we had a child together, but because we love each other and wanted to. What has made our relationship better is our daughter and having the strongest sense of family that I’ve ever experienced. While people are busy complaining about how terrible it is to be a parent, they are missing out on the most awesome gift ever. Kids are freaking awesome and so much fun! And those people that said my social life would die? They were so wrong. Sure, I don’t go out as much as I used to, but my husband and I still go out a lot – with and without our daughter. I still get to yoga, run, book club, happy hour, date night, etc – it’s now just balanced with time at the zoo, tea parties, story book time, and making sure the gremlin gets enough sleep. Also, he and I both work full time and I have zero mommy guilt about leaving her at daycare – that’s her job!

    Another thing that really scared me about having children was the obsession that moms seemed to have after their child was born. “My life didn’t begin until ___ was born”, “I don’t remember life prior to ____”, “I love ___ more than anyone, including my husband”. I liked my life before my kiddo and I wanted to remember it all! Now that I’m officially on the other side, I will say that I definitely remember life before she was born :). It was awesome and it helped me become the person I am today! And while I love my daughter, my husband is number 1 on my list of priorities – without us, there isn’t a family, so putting time in the relationship bank is really important to us.

    Anyway, sorry for all of the rambling, but in a nutshell, life with kids doesn’t suck. Everyone is different, has different kids, different experiences, and different PERSPECTIVES!

    • Erica House says:

      “having the strongest sense of family that I’ve ever experienced” <-- that is why I want to have kids. To create a little world, only shared by my family, where we have traditions and memories, plans and a sense of security together. I love hearing that you still have time to do the things you enjoy! I'm also SO GLAD you still remember life 'pre baby.' I mean, I'm sure parents see their kids as their world, but really .... I love the life I have now and I don't want to forget it or see it all gone!

  • Carly says:

    It took me a VERY long time to feel “ready” for kids. My husband tried to convince me for about year before I was willing to take the plunge and go off birth control. Go figure, it took us another 2 years to finally get pregnant (with a lot of help) and with TWIN BOYS none the less. They were born 11 week prematurely and from the moment I laid eyes on them my life was forever changed for the better. They were in NICU for 63 day and 91 days – in that time they taught me about strength, perseverance, how to stand up for someone, and most importantly how to love unconditionally. They are 14 months now and my experiences have been very different from many other mothers. Preemies have millions of doctors appointments, therapy sessions, etc. I wouldn’t trade them for the world, they ARE MY WORLD. Yes, days are difficult… but I get tears in my eyes every single time that I go get them from their crib after a nap and they smile and giggle at me and are happy as can be to see me… because I am their MOMMY. I worked full time for most of their first year and I just missed them so much that I quit my job to be with them more. If you had asked me 5 years ago if I could see myself as a stay at home mom, I would have said no way, but these little guys change your priorities. My husband and I recently went on a date for the first time since the boys were born and it felt like “old times”, but we really missed out little guys at the same time.

    • Erica House says:

      I love hearing this! I think when you struggle for so long to get pregnant you have a totally different outlook on mothering when the time comes. You know it is truly a GIFT.

  • Thank you for writing this! I’ve had to stop reading the negative types of articles that you mentioned. Whhyyy are so many parents negative about their experiences? It makes it scary for those of us who are thinking about having them soon! I’m 26, and people keep saying, “oh, you have time,” but I know how it works — 26 is the “peak” year for fertility, and I know that once you turn 35, things become even more complicated. My husband and I know that we want multiple children, we are just unsure of when we want to have them. My mom was a stay at home mom, though, and she tells me that she never once regretted having kids. I had a happy childhood, so I hope that I’m able to give the same to my kids when I have them!

    • Erica House says:

      I think growing up with a SAHM convinced me I’d have to do the same if I had kids. I cannot imagine giving birth to someone and then dropping them off at daycare for 40 hours a week (unless it was absolutely financially necessary for my families survival.) I’d like 2-3 kids (if I have any) so I know I’m nearing the critical point of getting this party started!

  • Andrew says:

    As always, an interesting debate. Just look at your life changes in the past twelve months.

    This decision is like most … make one and give it 100% and you have made a good decision.

    I’ve never doubted having kids, but as they grow the reward and frustration grows as well.
    I am at the “kids off to college” stage. The frustration is watching them make big boys and girls decisions and not rushing in the bail them out when things don’t go as planned. This has been much harder than anticipated.

  • I’m about to turn 35, and I’m engaged to a man that has three children. Two of which were essentially held against seeing him since they were small kids, so he rarely sees them; the other we see every other weekend. Both were brought to this world out of wedlock. His parents and family have hinted several times that they would like MORE offspring from him…how, and why? I have no clue. He’s definitely not down for having another one, so at least (the only people that matter) see eye-to-eye.

    I’m also an elementary school physical education teacher, so really, I get to borrow about 400 kids every day. I obviously love kids, and I love babies.

    I haven’t ever really wanted kids. Is this because I’ve always wanted to WORK with them? Perhaps. There are several factors about being a parent that I just can’t let go of, no matter the reward of raising a human of my own DNA. I like…nay…LOVE sleep. I love my own time. I love not being on anyone’s schedule but my own. I love being able to go for a run, or whatever else I want to do, by myself, or whenever I would like. I wouldn’t like what pregnancy would do to my body.

    So what I’ve boiled this down to is that I’m too selfish to have a kid! I’m fine with it. :)

    • Erica House says:

      Lol – I LOVE your response to this! While talking with friends about this subject I’ve had many say, “I have zero desire for kids, does that make me a bad person?!” My response is always NO. It makes you an awesome person for really thinking about it and realizing it’s not for you. I hate seeing people have kid after kid and it’s so obvious they HATE being a parent.

      PE teacher was one of my dream jobs after I started getting interested in health & Fitness!

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