Daddy was never allowed to dress his daughter again.
Should I Have a Baby?
Sibling Asks Idiot Most Important Question Possible; Experts Warn Him to Ignore Answer
My brother asked me if I thought he should have a baby. The fact that he asked me for advice automatically means the answer should be no, since his judgment is so poor. But this is what I wrote instead. (Some things are specific to him, but I think most of this applies to most people.)
It’s too late for you to produce a cousin/playmate for Junior, so our selfish reasons will not affect my answer, except that I fear this will seriously affect Poker Night.
Right now, your life has highs and lows. That doesn’t change when you have a baby, but it intensifies. Your highs are higher and your lows are lower. When you and your baby are sick and she is crying in the middle of the night and you are so tired that you feel dizzy, you will feel lower than you ever have in your life.
And when you lay your toddler down to sleep after reading him stories in a funny voice and gently rocking him, and he whispers “I love you too, Daddy,” your heart will melt with incredible tears of love and joy.
There are a lot of hard times coming later, and the older they get, the less joy they bring you (to a point) and the more burden they can seem. There will be many times when you think, why did I do this? What’s the benefit? And I don’t know the answer to that. It’s different with the girls because they are not mine and because Clare is at the extreme end of the unpleasantness scale. But Junior has been great (so far). The moments of great joy and love and laughter that he brings into our lives have far outweighed the effort it has taken to have him.
You think you love your wife. I mean, that’s why you married her, right? You love her more than you’ve ever loved anyone, and you can’t imagine loving anyone more than you love her. And then you have a kid, and almost instantly, you realize how ignorant you were. Your heart opens, and this love comes pouring out and you can’t imagine life without this tiny person who didn’t even exist such a short time ago. You still love your wife, possibly even more now, but it’s different. She doesn’t need you. She would eventually be fine without you.
But this child NEEDS you. This child is totally dependent on you, and that is an awesome responsibility that makes you love him even more. He changes you more profoundly than anything else you can do or experience. You quickly realize what an ass you’ve been for so long. All the things that you spent so much time and energy in protecting, in thinking were so important, in getting offended over and angry about, don’t matter anymore. This kid is what matters, not that someone slighted you somehow about something that’s infinitesimally insignificant compared to the life you are now responsible for. The certainty of your black and white beliefs falls away into many shades of gray.
And this is why I believe you should have a kid. What are you here for if not to grow? And getting married and having a child are two of the greatest ways to grow. For you, I believe having a child will soften some of your rigid views. For [your wife], I think it will positively affect her uptightness. It’s still possible to be a perfectionist about child-rearing, but it’s more likely it will soften both of you up. It might be hard to believe right now, but your kid will sneeze in your face, you’ll eat food that he spit out, you’ll touch feces with your bare hands, and you won’t give it a second thought. It won’t bother you as much when [poker buddy] sneezes on the cards when your kid spits in your mouth and you don’t really care. As [our mutual friend] once said, “With your first kid, you sterilize bottles, you use baby wipes and sanitizers on everything. By the third kid, if his pacifier falls in shit, you wipe it on your pants and shove it back in his mouth.”
Don’t get me wrong, this growth will come at a heavy price. Growth is really, really painful. It doesn’t have to be, but that’s how all of us make it. We don’t let go of our old selves without a fight, no matter how self-defeating our behaviors have been.
Parenting can be mind-numbingly tedious and repetitive. When you read the same book to your kid for the hundredth time in a row, you’ll feel like screaming. You won’t be going out as much. You’ll feel tied down. Your sex life will drop off a cliff for a long time. Your life will be permanently altered in ways you didn’t anticipate.
Yet, two and three-quarters of a year into it, I can say that it is worth it. I have cried ten times in writing this email because I love Junior so damn much.
One day, you’ll feel the same way about your little one. It’s hard to fathom that you’ll love someone who doesn’t exist yet more than you love your wife. But you’ll learn.