Thursday, March 05, 2009

Why I'm not ready to be a parent

Darby and I are getting to the stage of our relationship where people start asking when we're going to have kids. I feel like we're still really young. Plus, it seems that the fact that Darby still has 5+ years of school ahead of him might deter some people. But, no. Once you've been married over a year, even if you are still closer to 20 than 30, the questions start.

And, actually, although I don't like to admit it, sometimes I think it would be really fun to have a child soon. I love babies. And many of my friends and/or acquaintances from high school and college have had kids or are pregnant. (Thank you, facebook, for providing this information!) At this point, I wouldn't totally freak out if I got pregnant, which I think is a good thing. However, I recognize that financially that would NOT be a good decision. And Darby actually wants to be around for his child's infancy, not studying for tests. Plus, I really like our life right now. We eat dinner in front of the TV; we sleep in on Saturdays; we take long naps on Sundays. I don't really want to give that up. But sometimes when I'm around babies, I just forget all of that. There are times when I wonder how I can wait the 5 or 6 more years that we've always planned on waiting. Well, recently, I've found that motivation...teenagers.

You see, babies don't stay babies forever. Seems obvious, right? But whenever I think of myself as a parent, I see myself with a little baby or maybe a toddler. I never really imagine beyond their first day of school. However, a few weeks ago, when we were watching Good Will Hunting, I was telling Darby that I had wanted to see it when it first came out, but my parents wouldn't let me because it was rated R (although, I think it has a much more positive message than a lot of PG-13 movies, which my parents were also very selective about). Now, my parents were reeallly strict about what TV and movies we watched, a policy that I loathed growing up and which I still don't totally agree with. So I was talking with Darby about what we would do with our kids. And I know in my mind that I want them to learn to make their own decisions about those kinds of things. But what if they make the wrong decision? And will I really be able to hold my tongue if my teenagers go see the "wrong kind" of R-rated movie? It's so easy to parent hypothetically. (And, just for the record, I think my parents did a great job with me. I might not make every decision they made, but I certainly don't think their decisions or logic were wrong...just different from mine.) This discussion scared me quite a bit. I can't parent a teenager! And I know you grow into it, but even in 13 years, I still don't see myself being ready. Ahh! It's so scary!

Then, this morning, I'm driving along and I hear Taylor Swift's new song, "Love Story." Here is a sample of the lyrics:

And I said, "Romeo save me - I've been feeling so alone.
I keep waiting for you but you never come.
Is this in my head? I don't know what to think-"

He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said,
"Marry me, Juliet - you'll never have to be alone.
I love you and that's all I really know.
I talked to your dad - go pick out a white dress;
It's a love story - baby just say 'Yes.'"

For the record, Taylor Swift is 19 (barely), and her target audience is much younger. There's nothing "wrong" with this song, per se. But I think it has one of the most harmful messages for young girls: (1) that your life starts when you get married; (2) that a good reason to get married is so you won't "be alone"; and (3) that getting married when you are a teenager is romantic (In the song, the girl still lives with her parents, and they originally forbid her from seeing this boy, so I assume she is a child.) So I imagine myself trying to talk to my teenage daughter about the fallacies of this song. Then, she asks, "When did you and Dad start dating." "Umm, when we were 16." "When did you know you loved him?" "16, also." "When did you first talk about getting married?" "Uh, yeah, 16...But, it was different!! We were stupid! We broke up twice and when we got back together, we were older and wiser! We waited until I was done with college to actually get married!" Yeah, I know that logic's not going to fly. And the funny thing is, the same thing happened with my parents. They were married at 19 and 20, but they told us not to do that. I would ask, "So do you regret getting married?" And of course, they didn't, but they still wanted something different for us. Oh, how I understand now! I'm sorry, Mom and Dad. And hopefully, you won't get the chance to tell me, "I told you so," when I'm dealing with my own teenagers for a long, long time. I'm scared!


Jamie, Jenn, Sean and Baby Lance said...

Okay, this post made me laugh outloud! :-) First of all, love that song, but now I see it in a different light. When you explain your relationship with Darby to your children, you will be setting a WONDERFUL example of love and marriage. There is nothing wrong with being in love at 16 - or even talking about marriage. That fact is, you DIDN'T marry until you were older. You both made an incredibly mature decision to wait - and to wait to have kids until you were both ready. VERY admirable!!!

Second, the thing with kids (toddler more per se)... you get your Sunday afternoon naps back. Oh how I love my Sundays!

Finally, if you need a baby fix, you can come over ANY TIME after this little munchkin is born and have your baby time... Mommy will enjoy a SATURDAY nap! ;-)

Mary Kay said...

Kayla-First of all, whenever you decide to start your family, you will be an AMAZING mom! I know that because of how you loved on my grandson! Second, isn't it crazy how SMART our parents become once we are grown! Hehe. Seems only then do we really see how many hard decisions they had to make and what a good job they did! So, when your time comes and don't feel pressure...this is such a fun time for the two of you ALONE, you will be such a precious mommy!

Kalyn Gensic said...

It is songs like that one that have led me to NPR. I don't care if that makes me a liberal elitist because all other radio stations make your brain rot. I don't want my brain to rot.

Also, thank you for this post. With everyone getting pregnant (including my cousin Haylee last week) I needed a fellow "we're waiting" person to remind me why BJ and I are waiting. Love ya!

Sallie said...

Great post! One of the things I love most about you and Darby is how you enjoy each other and seem to appreciate that this is a special time in your lives. Don't worry--one of my "jobs" as a grandma will be to encourage you during the tough times and NOT say, "I told you so!" And by the way, I agree that you and Darby will be wonderful parents whenever you're ready!