Is Having Kids Crazy?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
April 29 2011 2:48 PM

Is Having Kids Crazy?

Rachael, if I'd read that Wall Street Journal piece before having my daughter, I might have brought it to my husband and pointed out that the article basically says the happiest couples are those who don’t have kids. But as someone who got a late start in the parenting game and who is now the mother of a teenager, my regret is that I didn’t have more children. So I’m very glad I didn’t read all the studies telling me how doomed my marriage would be. There’s nothing wrong with trying to 'baby-proof’ your marriage, but I’m not sure laying out prior to the baby’s arrival-as the program you cite suggests-each other’s expectations about sex post-partum is going to end up being an enforceable contract.

I, too, was struck by the rather ludicrous proposal to make long lists of all the household duties and divide them up before the child comes. There’s nothing wrong with lists, but make all the lists you want, people, life has a funny way of making mockery of them.  (Here’s a list story: When my daughter was young I was away for several days during the summer for a work trip, and dutifully left The List for my husband. When I returned it was late at night and I went to kiss my sleeping daughter and was struck that she smelled rather ripe. I asked my husband when he had last bathed her. He ran and got the list, held it out to me and said, 'You tell me where "bath" appears on this list!’" In case anyone takes this as an example of how children degrade marriage, my husband and I laughed about this.)

Advertisement

Social observers are increasingly commenting about the pernicious aspect to seeing every interaction as market-driven, so there is no longer anything special about the relationship between doctor and patient, or teacher and student; everyone is just a service provider or a consumer. There’s also something about child-rearing that can’t be reduced to management principles. I’m not against rational discussion of division of labor in caring for one’s children, but all these "children ruin marriage" stories miss the perhaps unmeasurable, ineffable aspects to marriage and childrearing. The sweet, funny, tender, crazy moments that happen every day and are harder to tally than exasperation at who does the laundry.

Stories such as the one in the Journal all seem to have as a premise that diapers never end and that sleep deprivation is for eternity. Well, my husband and I now try to get on our 15 year-old’s social calendar, and it’s pretty booked. We know high school will go by in a snap, and we wish we could figure out a way to slow down time.

 

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.