By pure coincidence, I’ve already written two posts this week that have “six” in the title, both uncharacteristically nice (here’s the first one and here’s the second one. I figured I’d make it an even three, and get back to my old self, by potentially summoning the beast with the third “six” in the trilogy.
It makes sense, since this post is really just me playing devil’s advocate. Although I’m a firm believer that having kids doesn’t have to change your life entirely, it definitely does change it. Just not that much. My blog is living (not literally) proof that you can keep your shitty personality and hateful sense of humor when you become a parent; you just have to want to.
I didn’t stop being a sarcastic jerk when my son was born, even though I quite sincerely love him with all my blackened heart. And I didn’t stop drinking, or going out to eat with my wife, or watching the TV shows I like or the sports I love. In many ways – but for the purposes of forming a hilarious Satanic trilogy of my last three posts, in six ways – being a dad is a lot like not being one.
Six Ways Having Kids is Like Not Having Kids
- 1. You still drink
I might even say I drink more now that I have a son, because I’m home more, and it’s cheaper, and my son drives me to it. Plus, he crushes me at quarters.
- 3. You still hate kids
Just not your own. At least not most of the time. But becoming a parent doesn’t suddenly make you fall in love with every kid you see. Quite the contrary. Instead of loving other kids, you end up disliking them even more than you used to, for not being yours. For not being as cute as yours or as smart as yours or for being cuter than yours or smarter than yours. And god forbid you get a babysitter to finally visit that fancy restaurant you’ve been dying to try, after months of frequenting kid-friendly dumps, and when you sit down you notice that some insane couple actually brought their kids. You’ll never hate kids more than when you can’t even hear your champagne bottle pop over the screaming six-year-old who just dropped his matchbox car on the floor.
- 4. You still love your wife
Provided you did to begin with, of course. Having kids changes your relationship with your spouse, but it doesn’t change how you feel about your spouse (unless she starts pulling some wacko Munchausen-by-proxy shit and murders Mischa Barton). You have to work harder at your relationship, and prioritize it more than you probably have since the courtship phase, but let’s be honest: you should probably be doing that anyway, whether there are children involved or not. Kids don’t validate a marriage, and they certainly shouldn’t be had in an attempt to save one, but they don’t have to end one either. Every time my wife and I hug, my kid runs over to join in and while I’m no fan of cockblocking, having someone new to hug doesn’t deplete my love for my wife. You don’t suddenly run out of love to give just because there’s someone new who needs it.
- 5.You’re still an asshole or a nice guy or a bigot or a romantic or a …
Becoming a parent doesn’t fundamentally change who you are. It definitely shines a light on both your best and your worst qualities, and it forces you to re-evaluate your priorities and alter your lifestyle, but you’re still going to be the same person. If you’re a jerk, you’re probably still gonna be a jerk. I mean, look at me!
- 6. You still have free time -
- 6.You still have fun
It’s possible. Some of the fun may be a little bit different, but it doesn’t disappear. As stated above, you can still drink and watch TV and go out to dinner (sometimes) and have sex (sometimes) and go to concerts (sometimes) and follow your favorite teams and play fantasy football and hang out with your friends (even if they *gasp* don’t have kids!). Life is life and responsibilities are responsibilities. Kids are just a big new one that you have to work around. And while you might have a little less time for some of the fun you used to have, you suddenly have a new source of it living in your house. And when he gets older, he even comes with video games!
2. You still watch TV and
go to rent movies and listen to music
I might even say I watch more TV, and rent more movies and listen to more music now that I have a son, because I’m home more and A) getting a babysitter so I can go out on a weeknight is crazy talk, so: TV and B) getting a babysitter to go to the movies rather than go get drunk and have a nice meal is crazier talk, so: Netflix/Redbox/On Demand and C) I wear my headphones at all times so I don’t have to hear my kid’s constant yapping. Pop culture will still be consumed if and when you have kids – today’s technology makes that easier than ever – so don’t worry. Plus, with the crap your kids are going to watch, you’ll get even more you bargained for. You won’t miss a thing (even though once they’re watching Nickelodeon and the Disney channel, you’ll desperately want to.)
Pretending my life hasn’t changed since I had my son three years ago would be idiotic. Of course it has changed. Just not that much. Yes, we have less “free” money and less free time and less sleep and more, or more accurately, different stress, but other than that, we’re the same people. We probably swear less, but not a shit-ton less.
Mom and Buried and I strive to maintain some semblance of who we were and how we lived pre-Detective Munch, and we manage it, give or take a hijacked Netflix account or occasional weekend devoted to visiting a hellish Sesame Street-themed amusement park. Anyone can do it, the trick is maintaining some balance and a little separation. Like George on Seinfeld.
Kids are neither prison nor panacea. You can’t count on your children to be the heroes in your life, and you should obviously never cast them as the scapegoat. If you find yourself doing that, figure out why, and then stop.
Life is what you make it. If your kids are ruining your life, find an undestructive way to change that. I started this blog to make sure I didn’t lose touch with who I was before I became a parent, but if there’s anything the past three years have taught me it’s that I didn’t need a blog to do that. Just wanting to do it was enough.