First let me say that I love Erin Zammett Ruddy’s writing, and I know that she had qualms about the genre of this piece (see her Parenting blog here). Nonetheless, The Nest just ran her list of 15 things to do before having kids. Regular readers of this blog will recall how I took issue with another big list of Things To Do Before Having Kids a few months ago.
Fundamentally, I believe parents are people. Mothers and fathers can all have our own lives. Just as I worry that all the gnashing of teeth over how “torn” and “frazzled” working moms must feel leads to people postponing kids or thinking they’ll have to stop working, I worry that the mommy martyr complex many writers promote (not usually Erin!) leads women to think that life stops after motherhood.
It doesn’t. I liked the Nest’s inclusion of the tip to “stop being so self-righteous” before you have kids, because your children will destroy things too. But the others are a bit more worrisome. For starters, many are predicated on not having any childcare. You can go to the bathroom by yourself. Men do it all the time! You can take a road trip with your spouse if you’ve got other family members willing to take the kids for a bit — they’ll probably enjoy helping. Same with a winery tour. There is no historical circumstance where women have been solely responsible for their kids with no help whatsoever. Extended family has always been part of child-raising, and there’s nothing wrong with asking more members of our villages, related or not, to help with our kids, whether that’s because we’re working or have other things going on.
As for taking risks and being spontaneous, sky diving is not on my bucket list, but I’m guessing it’s not too much less safe than driving in a car, which kills 1 in 10,000 people per year. And parents still do that. Morning sex? That’s what Dora the Explorer and locks on the door are for. And I’m just confused about the idea of not taking career risks, which seems to include going for a promotion. Kids need to eat! So wouldn’t you want to earn more money to support them?
The farther I get into motherhood the more I also realize that my friends without kids have been aging at the exact same rate. No one wants to be the people at the party until 4AM, because we all seem to have lost the ability to sleep until 2PM. You can not stay up late because you have kids, or because you have to be at work at 7:30AM every day and your dog whines to be walked at 7AM on weekends, but either way, we all become a bit less “fun” over time.
You can fly business class if you want too. First, not all plane trips must be taken with your children (see childcare and working, above) but also, kids have been known to get upgraded too. Erin writes that “people don’t spend all that extra cash to listen to crying babies the whole time.” But business class only exists because people aren’t paying for it. Either their companies/clients are paying for it, or they get upgraded because they have elite status (because they fly so often; this has usually been our situation), they’re cashing in frequent flyer miles or a small handful are so rich that they don’t care. Either way, the folks in front of the curtain may be nicer about kids than people in coach.
Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with doing the things on a list like this before kids, but they can be done after kids too.