On the topic of children
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The One
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On the topic of children

by Neo » 03 Aug 2018, 21:17

It was no secret that I wanted to wait until I was 30 to have children; and that I wanted to have twins, so that they "would have someone to play with and leave me alone."

Obviously the reasoning was as short-sighted as one would expect from an early 20-something with no real responsibilities around children.

Now, I've had one for what will be 15 months tomorrow...and for the 2nd time in as many months I have contracted the sickness she has contracted from playing with other babies.

I made the comment to my wife earlier in the day that "contracting [the kid's] every illness is one of the Top 5 things I dislike about children." It was an off-the-cuff reference to a list that didn't exist in the moment I said it; however, I feel like there are really probably only 5 things I dislike about kids in general.

Before I go into any of that, though, I do want to share how my perspective has changed, even over the course of 15 months, since becoming a father...with the most important point being:

If my child were to suddenly disappear from my life, I couldn't imagine any reason for the rest of my existence. If anything, she has given purpose to the next 18 years of my life. Without her, there would be no point.

But with her...I can come up with 3 things at this point that bother me, reserving 2 spots for what I am sure will occur sometime in the next 17 years. I am having a hard time determining which should be #2 or #3, but since it's top-of-mind right now, I'll start with the sickness.

She doesn't speak English, because she's only been on this planet for 1 year, and only picked up a few word-object pairings...so when we try to explain that we are trying to help her by wiping her green shot-streams out from between her nose and mouth, it doesn't register with her. So she fights it, wipes it with her hands, puts her hands all over the place - including our faces - as she struggles to move our hands/arms/bodies away from her, all while we are trying to avoid contracting her illness.

It doesn't matter. I still contract it...because it's been rubbed into the carpet - it's on the furniture - it's in the air, as she sneezes right into my breathable air while holding her - it's present in her dirty diapers - on her clothes - on her toys. There is no escape from it. If any baby in the "group" gets sick, I am going to smurfing get sick, and I smurfing hate getting sick.

And then my wife believes she can "hope" or "will" the sickness away... or take homeopathic OTC remedies instead of actual medicine. Germs don't work like that.

And so (I guess) "#2" would be the strain that having a kid puts onto the relationship - which may be completely imaginary on my part. But to me it feels she has to do all the work when it comes to family & house...but also works part-time to get that Starbucks health insurance. So I try to help when I know what can/needs to be done... but I also try to balance it with working my own job full-time as the main income.

It's not much different from when I was a kid, and my dad was gone to work from 6a-6p, and my mom would go out at night and sell Tupperware - but I don't remember much from those days, and I certainly don't know what kind of legitimate description of the relationship I could get from my parents about that time - seeing as how my mom was unhappy with the relationship from the time I was 2. The only other kind of parental relationship I know of was one in which the dad/stepdad worked and the mom/stepmom stayed home...or also worked with no young kids at the house.

Having to balance what needs to be done around the house, and what needs to be done to ensure we can both perform our duties at work leads to the #1 issue for me, which is "my life is not my own anymore."

On the weekdays the schedule hasn't changed much:
  • wake up at 8am
  • work at 9am
  • dinner at 5:30pm
  • shared DVRs at 6:30pm (now it is dishes/kid time 6-7pm)
  • video games at 7:30pm
  • bed at 10:30pm
The Weekends and "PTO" from work are where it hit me harder. Previously the schedule was:
  • Video games from 8am - 10:30pm
  • * Optionally/Conditionally leave the house, yard work, or eat
Now that there is a child around, there is no such thing as "taking a vacation day" from work... Work is my release from the uncertainty of #2 and lessens my exposure to #3. I took a week off between Christmas 2017 and New Years 2018, expecting to do nothing but play video games during what would have otherwise been my work hours.

No, that doesn't happen when you're a parent. If you're home, you're a 100% increase in capacity to handle the issues of the moment: diapers, baby relief, chores, etc.

Why? Well, just because you can put in for some time to not take care of responsibilities with your employer, it doesn't mean that the other parent gets to put in for some time to not take care of the responsibilities of the child. Everyone is always working... you work at the office, or you work at home...and there's no relief unless someone else takes the child for the weekend (like your parents, or a babysitter).

Eventually that smurf-poo wears you down... or at least it wears me down. And that's why I'm typing this. I was "given" 2 days off of work this week for completing the project I have been working on for the past year - and 2 days off of works means 4-days ON at Sick Baby Care Inc. where your payment is an open mouth, full tongue lick from a sick baby.

And don't you think for a second my wife and I aren't in a competition for who gets more kisses during the day... ;)

Is this normal, or am I just ill-prepared to be a parent?
"Because I choose to."

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The One
Posts: 11007
Joined: 30 Jan 2004, 16:44
Location: Plano, TX

Re: On the topic of children

by Neo » 10 Jul 2020, 21:47

Here we are nearly 2 years later, and while things have changed, and become more consistent with a repeatable schedule, especially now that we're in the throws of a pandemic. Unfortunately for me, it finally hit today that the repetition had to break a little.

For the past *checks calendar* 16 Fridays now, I have worked from home. This means that there isn't a moment of the day where GlennCoco and StarStuff (my daughter) aren't also in the house for the majority of the work week. What it also means is that my schedule is now:
  • 07:30: Wake up
  • 07:30 - 08:30: Get ready, shower, dressed
  • 08:30 - 08:45: Make coffee while listening to news (it's a pour-over from an electric kettle water boiler, so it takes time to prep)
  • Spend whatever time I have after making coffee playing with StarStuff
  • 09:00 - 12:00: Work
  • 12:00 - 12:30: Lunch
  • 12:30 - 13:00: Spend time playing with StarStuff
  • 13:00 - 17:00: Work
  • 17:00 - 17:30: Dinner
  • 17:30 - 18:50: Spend time playing with StarStuff until her bedtime routine
  • 18:50 - 19:30: Bedtime routine, stories
  • 19:30 - 22:00: Adult self time
  • 22:30 - 07:30: Sleep
There is no room in this daily schedule for any intra-day breaks. It's a constant focus balancing act between work, StarStuff, and GlennCoco. Separately, as in, at different locations, this balancing act is not an issue, but combined with no time in between, it is a slow, steady burn of my social mana, that apparently takes around 16-weeks to deplete.

In the before times, there was a 30 minute drive to work, an hour available during lunch, and 30 minutes to drive home. This was my time...time to listen to podcasts, catch up on any YoutubeTV or Netflix series I wanted to watch, or any recently released movies that I'd missed. I had a guaranteed 2 hours at some point in my day to recharge, and top-off before one set of responsibilities was replaced with another. And then the end of the day capped with 3 hours to finish decompressing, or for adult conversations & TV show watching.

These days, and only recently, has it come to my attention that I spend 16 hours a day in my bedroom, and when I come downstairs, it is to eat, and to entertain, and then I either go upstairs for more work, or I am off to my desk for those 3 hours of decompression...but it's only those 3 hours.

I've lost 40% of my recharge time, and it's been replaced with 2 more hours of social interaction that I didn't have before.

Early in the WFH days, I tried to use my phone during lunch time, but I was informed that it seemed like I was ignoring the family. I was - I was trying to recharge for the next round of work. But I set it aside, so that I could instead converse with my family at the table. These days, those conversations are quite difficult to even have, as they are constantly interrupted with "Uh, excuse me, daddy...Elsa threw a watermelon up into the sky and it turned into a bubble machine, that [inaudible] a ceiling fan, and [inaudible] Christoph"...or "uh, hey guys, what are you talking about?" And while it's understandable, and cute, that StarStuff would like to participate in the conversation, sometimes the conversation is important and the interruption is decidedly not...and also frequent.

So that is 1 of the hours that got transformed, but the other hour is only partially frustrating. It's nice to have a little more time in the mornings to get to see StarStuff before I have to leave for work, since I never saw my dad until like 6pm when he got home for dinner, and then never played with him or anything that I can recall, and then we went to bed. He really played little memorable role in my early life. But at the end of the day, for me, while I'm glad to have traded what is normally a tedious drive home, I do miss the 30 minutes of time to switch from work mode to family mode. Instead it's straight downstairs to eat dinner and re-engage the conversational interruptions, and other dinner time shenanigans, before it turns into a relentless demand for attention and to play.

I now probably understand why my dad didn't play a memorable role in the early parts of my life, because he was probably just too stressed/tired from work and the drive from Arlington to Plano and back through the DFW Airport every day, and just wanted to sit and relax before he had to go to bed and do it all over again too.

And that's all I wanted to do tonight. I DVR'd "Downsizing" as one of the few movies that had been released that I thought I wanted to watch, and finally set out to do it. I wrapped up work about 45 minutes early since we were ahead, and came down stairs to see GlennCoco playing a video game broadcast to the TV, and StarStuff otherwise engaged with it, and figured this was my chance to finally unwind, without having to entertain.

It was not. It happened to coincide with the time that she planned to stop playing, and finish the dinner prep, and suddenly "Player 2 has entered the game" and StarStuff's attention turned to me, and was immediately deflected to painting a cardboard box. After dinner, I tried to resume my movie (after getting hooked only 15 minutes in), only to have constant noise, chatter, interruptions, request to play, requests denied, and tantrums ensue. GlennCoco became interested in the movie, but I became much less interested since the storyline was nothing like I thought it would be, and we all watched it until it was time for GlennCoco to take her shower.

This left me and StarStuff with about 20 minutes left in the movie, and 20 minutes left until her bedtime, when suddenly the requests to play started up: "do you want to play" ..."no, I'm watching this movie"..."but do you want to play?"..."no honey, daddy is watching this movie right now"..."but do you want to play? :(" ... "not righ...." *she runs across the house screaming and crying*.

I mean, what do you do? I can't give in to every demand, or she'll never learn that people don't always want to do the same things...I feel terrible about not wanting to play, but for the past several days, and even today, I have given her undivided attention during our normal intra-day play time.

Sometimes, (and, finally, for once in a long time) I just want to watch a dag-gum movie without interruption, and without having it be the only thing I get to do that day that alleviates my own stresses. I don't want to sit up in my room for another 2 hours to watch a movie...I want to enjoy the rest of the house I'm paying for, and the big screen TV I bought, and the couch we have. I want to live in my house too, and do the things I want to do in it as well...and sometimes that means we don't play right now.
"Because I choose to."

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