Dom and I were talking yesterday in the car about how wonderful it is being parents. And how often in the media you hear only about how hard it is to be a parent and not about the joys. And actually how often you hear from parents themselves more complaints than boasts.
Additionally, you often hear engaged and newly married couples deciding to wait a few years to have children. They argue this is so they can get used to be married, have some time to grow closer as a couple, get on their feet financially, etc.
Now by bringing this up I don’t intend any criticism of couples who choose to wait to have children for serious reasons. But I do think that we don’t often enough hear the argument made about why not to wait. And I think there are many good reasons to have children right away rather than waiting.
First, having a baby does change everything. But Dom and I haven’t yet had time to develop habits. We don’t yet have rituals and patterns of behavior. So there wasn’t any resentment towards this little newcomer who came and disturbed a happy system that we’d established.
You often hear the argument made that not having children allows a couple to have more time together to grow in intimacy. By implication children interrupt that intimacy. but we’ve found that in fact just the opposite happens. Our love for Bella draws us closer together. Love does not diminish when you add another person to the family, it only increases. I don’t love Dom any less, but my love for Bella adds to the sum total of love in our family. And seeing Dom’s love for our daughter—it’s amazing to me that anyone can love her as much as I do, but he does—seeing his love for her only deepens my love for him.
Loving Bella opens up our love and deepens us, she is something we share. Often you hear couples breaking up because they no longer have anything in common. But we do, we have lots in common, not the least of which is our love for Bella.
I’ve got that song going through my head: Breakfast at Tiffany’s… may not be the name of the song, but I don’t really pay attention to such things:
You say we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we’re falling apart
You say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don’t care
And I said “What about Breakfast at Tiffany’s?”
She said “I think I remember the film
And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it”
And I said “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got”
We’ll we got much more in common than Breakfast at Tiffany’s (even if it is one of my favorite movies of all time).
And Bella makes us less selfish, more other-centered. She makes us happier as individuals and that is good for us as a couple. As Dom says, if he’s feeling grumpy all he has to do is look at Bella and he feels better. And even when I’m irritable because he’s waking me up after I’ve only been asleep for an hour, all he has to do is call my attention to her bright eyes and cute face and I can’t stay annoyed for long.
Now it’s true there are plenty of selfish people out there with kids. A baby isn’t a magical cure-all for selfishness. But not having kids certainly doesn’t make you any less selfish.
So next month we’ll celebrate our one-year wedding anniversay. And maybe we won’t be able to do a romantic getaway for two reprisal of our honeymoon. Even if we do manage a weekend away it will be one of interrupted sleep and stopping for diaper changes and is this restaurant kid-friendly. But I have a hard time seeing that as a negative. I can think of no better way of spending half an hour than lying on the floor together, smiling and cooing at Bella.
It’s true our long romantic walks now involve a stroller and sometimes even a fussy baby. But I think it’s better that way. Having Bella between us brings us closer together than we’ve ever been.
Dom found this interview with Ed Burns this afternoon which directly speaks to the mentality I’m talking about:
[My character] Pauly’s the guy who has a beautiful wife, a great house, a baby on the way—all the things that sort of fit into the plan for the American Dream, and yet in a way, he’s miserable. And in a way, I could relate to that.
After [getting married], you know the whole thing is gonna change. You have to take time to mourn the death of your former self.
There are lot of specific things I can relate to:
I have two kids now, and weekends are full, so I quit my softball team.
I want to show them the Mets, but I have yet to get out to Shea.
I haven’t seen my boat this year.
Our generation, who got married later, we got very set in our ways. And so our habits do require a long goodbye, and that kind of informed everything about the film.
Just another thing to think about before you decide to wait on having kids will you get set in your ways and have a harder time changing once the baby arrives? Will that influence your relationship with your child, causing some resentment?