Friday, January 17, 2014

A loooong answer to the simple but complicated question: Should I have kids?

Mama is 36 here. I just turned 37 now so I'm looking at this picture with morbid fascination. We almost have the same life here, but hers didn't have a happy ending. And all my life, for as long as I could remember, Mama always told me, "Don't ever get married and don't ever have children."

Well, I disobeyed her. I tried to obey her but my Vince proved to be irresistible and the birth control pill failed me (okay, I failed to take the pill a few times so I won't blame the pill), so now I'm married with almost-three kids. And I'm ridiculously happy!

So now I always get asked, "You're so happy! Do you think I should have kids, too?" Then when these women see me hesitate—I guess they were expecting me to trill "Yes!" while glowing with happiness—they get all freaked out haha. "Is she really a happy mom?" I can see it on their faces haha. I get asked this because I've been so vocal about remaining single and child-free all my life (well, up until four years ago!).

Some people say, "So you changed your mind? Is that why you had a baby?"

Nope. I got pregnant unexpectedly. I was in denial and scared all throughout my pregnancy, and when my eldest was placed in my arms, I didn't hear the angels sing nor did tears well up in my eyes. I just went, "Oh, hey you."

Some people say, "So do you regret putting off kids now that you're so in love with motherhood?"

Nope. I don't regret it at all. Had I gotten pregnant in my 20s, I'd have made a terrible mother. I had issues to resolve (Mama's warning was one of them), things to do, places to go. Now that those are over and done with, I find that I can settle down quite happily. Career, ambition, nights out, travel—they don't excite me at all anymore. Been there, done that. With those out of the way, I can focus on adoring my kids. They are quite adorable (most of the time!) but I know I can love them the way I do because there's nothing there anymore to distract me.

Some people say, "So is your life better now with kids?"

Yes and no. No, because I miss my husband. I'm lucky we both work from home so I'm actually with him 24/7... with two kids between us. We can't have a decent conversation, we sneak off to have sex (in our own house, we have to sneak off to have sex like we're doing something wrong!), we hurry through meals, we hardly have time to read our beloved books, our lovely house has been altered to be kid-friendly, the house is almost always sticky, and every morning (and sometimes afternoons and evenings, too) is redolent of the smell of baby shit. It's the kind of smell that sticks around, never mind that you opened all the windows and lit all the scented candles. If that's your idea of a better life, then whoopeedoo, we're living it!

But it is a fabulous life we live now. I guess it's fabulous because, aside from the love we have, we don't have the concerns of a lot of parents of young kids. We own our home and our car. We have no debts. We have a little saved up in the bank and in the stock market. We're past that burning, blinding lust to be someone special. We have peace, our kids are enjoying that security, and we're happy we can give them that.

Peace, security. That's a life of luxury I just described there. So it's very easy for me to say life is better with kids, but things could change tomorrow. An earthquake, a fire, an accident, a disease, a tragedy. I always ask God to "keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings (Psalm 17:8)," but I also know that as long as we are alive, troubles are there. I hope I would always say that I love my life no matter what. At our Bible study this week, we were reminded to "put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground. (Ephesians 6:13)" It's not "if", it's "when." I hope that when the day of evil comes, my faith in God will not be shaken.

Sometimes, you see, I'm haunted by what my mother went through—she was always in debt, she was always borrowing from the sari-sari store or from my aunt's grocery stall, she had to drop us off with different relatives often because she didn't have money to sustain our everyday needs—and I think that, if that happened to me, would I find myself saying what she said many times: "If I could live my life all over again, I'd never have married and I'd never have children."

She loved us but she's honest. I got her honesty. So when people ask me if they should have kids, I wish I could just say, "Yes! Children are so wonderful!", I just can't. I want to ask back, "Are you mature? Are you selfless? Are you done with your wandering? Are you financially ready? Are you married to a wonderful man? Are you over yourself? Are you ready to never sleep again?"

Of course, someone very young, not ready, totally selfish and ambitious, and unmarried and poor can find that she's pregnant or got someone pregnant and just transform. It happens. Not all the time, but it happens. It happened to me actually. I was so career-focused, I was so selfish, I was so not ready that I freaked out when I saw the positive pregnancy test, but I embraced motherhood and I'm amazed at how much I'm loving it. So if you're asking yourself, "Should I have kids?", then maybe you're ready. I really can't tell you if you are. Only you can know and sometimes you may not know until it happens.

All I know is my children have added to my life. Nope, they did not fill a hole, they did not complete me, they did not give meaning to my life. They added to it. They added joy to an already happy life, they added wonder and laughter and surprise and love to an already wondrous, laugh-filled, surprising, loved-up life. They did add chaos and mess and noise to my wonderfully organized and quiet life. But, hey, a perfect life is a boring life. So have kids if you want the chaos! It's actually not so bad. Nope, not so bad at all!

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  1. What a very honest and beautiful post!

  2. I don't think kids and family life are for everyone. Some folks shouldn't and oughtn't have kids (for their sake and the little ones'). I've had bros who you wouldn't in your wildest dreams initially see as responsible dads and husbands who then assumed that role, by choice or accident, and will tell me now it's the best thing in the world and would punch anyone who disagrees. In fact my best friend, who I use to remember living in small apartment, driving a beat up Honda and not giving two cares about anything is now a career man, property owner, investor and married to a beautiful responsible and decent woman (far cry from all the ghetto hoes with no jobs and tons of drama he use to associate himself with) with two children (one he adopted from her, and one they brought into the world together). I couldn't believe it; I felt like a father and brother at the same time proud and jealous that he turned around from night to day...But then there are friends and acquaintances who started getting hitched early, looked like perfect couples, smart, got their acts together---like model family from when they're bf/gf, to their wedding, to initial family life...fantasy life we all drool over and wished we had. But then years later, atomic crash and all the nasty things you could think about comes out: cheating, nasty divorce, domestic violence, custody battle, and years later children come out all jacked up. The way I see it, whatever you decide make sure you really think about your decisions. Don't just wing it. It's one thing to jump into the water if the consequences of your actions will victimize you in the future. It's another in this case; don't bring an innocent third party into this world with your 'experiment', curiosity, pettiness, vanity ("Oh they're so cute aren't they? I want one!"---they're not pets or toys!) or plain stupidity. Entire innocent lives are at stake in the future. If you sign up for the job, make damn sure you finish it and do it right like you're getting paid to do it (it's at least an 18 year commitment, folks!) For irresponsible and ugly people like myself we owe to the world not to procreate and spread our genetics. But at least I know where I should be right? LOL And for people like me just an advice: you CAN enjoy baby-making without making babies. It's called using condoms.

    1. Dude, I don't think it's for everyone either. I mean, really, the world would be a much better place if only responsible, compassionate and selfless people had kids. But if that were the case, I don't think anyone would qualify. I don't think I'd qualify! I can still be so selfish sometimes.

      I totally agree with you that it's okay to be stupid, even hurtful, if you're the only party going to get hurt. But kids! To hurt kids! Man, that's like the most awful thing in the world.

  3. I so love this post!!!! (a lot of exclamation points there... hahaha!) When I got pregnant with my eldest I was 24, am I ready that time? No because I really don't know what to expect, I am still at that stage wherein you know sarap pang lumabas labas and all, but as soon as I see my belly growing, it dawned on me, slowly but surely, that I am ready for this one, excited as well. I guess when I became a MOM, all of those times that I really want to go out, be with friends, go and have fun, were done for me. Having kids/children is also a RESPONSIBILITY, we are responsible for the well being of the lives we bring on this earth. Single ladies should read this too.

    1. That's why this post is on Topaz Horizon, not on Topaz Mommy, because it's meant for childless/unmarried people =)

  4. I LOVE the honesty in this post! Oh, Frances, you are so right about everything you said up there. I married late (I was already 33) because I too was so focused on my career and actually never planned to get married in the first place, or have kids for that matter. I wasn't really sure if I had what it takes to be a good mom. But, like you said, once your reality changes, you just embrace it and let it transform you.

    1. Well, most of us embrace it. Some people (and there's sadly still a significant number of them out there) just run away from what they've done or don't step up to the plate, leaving ruined lives of poor children in their wake.

  5. This is why I love your blog! You are honest!

    Amen to everything you said!

  6. After reading your post, I saw this in facebook

    Anyway, I was 36 when I became a mother. It was not easy transition for my husband and I. For one thing, we are on our own. No babysitter, no relatives or helper. It was an eye opener. We missed the time when we were child-free. Now, I could not imagine our life without our son. We are talking about having another child. I turned 40 last month. I don't have much time. I would like to have another one but part of me is saying, one is enough. It is expensive to have a child. Like you, my childhood was not easy due poverty. I am also afraid of losing control of some part of my life that I just regained. Anyway, it is not easy to have a child but I would never want to lose my child no matter what....

    1. Same here! Becoming parents was so unexpected that my husband and I were reeling from the shock, the sleepless nights, the constant awareness, the love! It's amazing and exhausting. We miss our childless days too, like you, but we'd never ever want to be childless ever again!

  7. Thanks, Mark, Chuching and Cess! =D

  8. I want to print this post (so old school!) so that I have something to show to people who kept wondering why I am single. LOL. I always say that I am complete on my own. Any addition is a blessing. :D


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