How do all you people do it?
I’ve often wondered what my life would have been like if I had married and had a family. Those thoughts occurred more frequently in the last few years (perhaps because I have had more time to think about things in those years).
I’ve never come up with a definitive answer. Sometimes, I think I’d be a pretty good Dad and others I wonder if my values and beliefs would make me one of those “you don’t know anything” guys.
I had another interesting bit of self-discovery today as I settled down to watch a replay of the Heat-Knicks game. The phone rang. Believe it or not, that’s surprising in itself (I get few phone calls and no texts…well, almost no texts, we can talk about that tomorrow). The real surprise was that the caller was my niece asking if she could stop by for a visit to talk about school (college) and family things.
I said sure, when would you like to come by and she suggested around 11:30. I actually had no idea what time it was at that moment (the life of the idle), but it turned out it was 10:30. Yoiks! A quick cleanup and change (and some straightening around the house) and I was ready (and even still got in about half of the replay).
We talked for about two hours and then I took her out for lunch. She left to go visit my Dad around 3:00. It was a good visit and a healthy conversation; the type of conversation one might have with any young person growing up. It was a conversation I could imagine having with my own son or daughter, if I had one.
The thing is, it was a conversation that would likely happen more than occasionally if I did have a family. And what if it were a bigger family, even “just” two kids? Wouldn’t that require more time? And what if, because I had a family, I was still working to support them, wouldn’t that conversation have to happen in the evenings (or weekends)?
It further occurred to me that the conversation we shared was a good one. There certainly would be less pleasant ones at some point (“clean up your room” comes to mind). There’s also help with homework, doctors, events, activities, meals…good gosh, what an investment. Where do you find time for yourself?
It’s not like I didn’t realize how much parents sacrifice for their children. It’s not that I haven’t been friends with and watched adults defer their lives to ensure their children’s future. I just never had one of those “ah ha” moments comparing my life of absolute non-commitment to the direct responsibility of supporting a “child” (for the sake of discussion).
I wonder now whether I could enter into a relationship with a woman with kids still in the household. For that matter, I wonder about entering into a relationship of any kind now. Would the pleasure of having someone(s) to care for and about overcome the loss of freedom and irresponsibility a life of no relationships offers?
I’ve had many people say to me “you’re the smart one” for staying single and without family. I’m still not convinced. I had a good time with my niece today, as I have had with other kids I’ve been able to get close with.
When you decide to have kids, you know you’ve now taken time from your life you will never get back. More than that, you are responsible for giving that time to your children without any guarantee of their appreciation or good use of your sacrifice. Still, speaking as one who went the other way, it seems to me the investment is worth it.
As long as you make the time for it.