Have a baby

I always imagined I would have children. That’s not quite the same thing as saying I always wanted children, in fact I find it hard to put myself in the position of those who can say that. Having children is such a massive decision, that profoundly affects many aspects of your life. It’s generally accepted that parents report, on average, less “happiness” (whatever that means) than those without, so it’s a bit of a … well, gamble isn’t quite the right word. I think it’s selecting one kind of happiness over another. Sounds a bit overly rational, but I think that’s what I did. You don’t know how it will work out, but you want to give it a shot.

And I’m glad I did. I have a boy already, and he’s working out pretty well so far. He’s two years old, for the next few minutes at least (time travels a lot faster when you have kids), and he’s currently learning the joys of saying “no”, being totally irrational, and resisting my attempts to brush his teeth. He’s really getting the hang of it.

He’s an emotive fellow, and he gets super upset when he learns about major injustices like having to wear pajamas because it’s bed time. Just wait until he hears about income inequality. But even when he beats my shoulders with his little fists because I stopped him running into traffic, or declined his request to use a steak knife, it’s quite endearing. His ineffective punches and lame put-downs remind me how relatively strong and smart I am, which I quite like, so I have to force myself to admonish him for this bad behavior while I can still correct it. And the rest of the time he’s adorable. I rather like being a father.

There’s one thing I struggle with a bit, which is that it sometimes feels like I’m just occupying him as a way of killing time before dinner and bed. Perhaps we’ve all been coached through adulthood to believe that unstructured playing is a waste of time that could have been spent earning money, reading a text book or learning a new skill. I think we forget that play is a skill, and a really good one. Not that long ago, medicine believed that being playful or silly was an imbalance of the humors, an excess of phlem or whatever it was, that should be corrected. We might have changed the language we use but I think the sentiment remains. So now as parents we have to learn to unlearn what we’ve been encouraged to believe is important and adult. It’s quite hard, but every time I get down on the floor to play with duplo or cars I’m getting better at it. I think my kid is making me a better, more rounded person. Also occasionally a more angry person holding a toothbrush, but you have to take the rough with the smooth I guess.

So this week, my resolution was to have another child.

I should confess, this isn’t a spur of the moment thing. I’ve actually been planning it, in liaison with my wife, for quite a while. This resolution was conceived over nine months ago. There were some indications that this should be the week to try it, and, well, here we are. In the hospital.

Brendan Dodds in hospital scrubs
In my scrubs, waiting to be summoned into the birthing chamber.

So we had the baby. Admittedly, I leaned hard on my wife for the actual work, but I fetched a lot of things and I think that adds up. Son number two is home, in fact I’m jiggling him to sleep in my left arm while I type this with my right, with mixed success at both. He’s spending the bulk of his time experimenting with innovative sleeping patterns including, notably, snoozing while eating. Impressive. He’ll go far.

By the way, if this resolution sounds like a bit of a cop-out, well, it is. I need a week off. Got butts to wipe.

  • Difficulty: Fairly easy to get pregnant, then hard for the rest of your life, then you die.
  • Worthwhiliness: It’s early days, but hopefully high

Header image is Woman Giving Birth, by Travis


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