I’ve gotten into discussions with childless friends about what it’s like to be childful. In most cases, it’s a somewhat awkward conversation. Because I’ve lived life before kids but they’re never lived life with kids. So I have a view on both worlds. And they come into the convo determined to prove to themselves that my life choice is idiotic, irresponsible, and just plain hellish. The whole thing is destined to be a catastrophe. Instead of not saying a word, nodding to one another and backing away slowly, I open my mouth and out spills stupid.
What I usually say in these situations is that children are like crack.
You should know that I’ve never done crack. I was thinking about getting me some and going camping, but then I saw that interview with Whitney Houston (God rest her very soul) where she said, “crack is whack.” Being someone who always listens to celebrities, I soon cancelled those plans. Then I got into Breaking Bad. I realllly got into Breaking Bad.
Still, there are things about crack that are common knowledge. And of those few things that have risen to my knowledge, I can say that there seems to be a lot of shared experience between crackheads and parents.
Ever see a crack house? I’m sure there are some very lovely, well-maintained crack homes, but the media would lead me to believe that most are all shot up and in a state of disrepair. I happen to know that children will do that to your house. Especially if you leave your guns unlocked. I’ve written about it here and here and here. They will cause a phenomenal mess and then distract you, monopolizing every minute of free time so you can’t set things right again. Then they cause more mess and so it’s exponential.
Crack and children are both powerfully mood-altering.
If you’re in a shitty mood, children can be a blast of euphoria. No lie. There are days I walk into my house and little Ben hears me and comes tearing through the house to give me a huge hug with all the strength his little three year-old arms can deliver and whatever was bothering me is squeezed out instantly. The opposite is also true. I’ve been just peachy and walked in on sibling torture and the rest of my day is shot. I guess the crackhead equivalent for that would be encountering the police.
Crack and children are both powerfully addictive.
Like I said earlier, I’ve never done crack,* but if I did, I’d imagine that I would have a hard time not doing crack. Because crackheads don’t want to live without crack. Hey guess what, I don’t want to live without my kids. If I had never had kids I could have spent the rest of my life happily not having kids. I wouldn’t have needed them. I could have travelled, dined out regularly, enjoyed plays and concerts and bars and boating and all the things I used to do before kids until I died without looking back. I wouldn’t have known how completely they can dominate your heart and mind. But now that I’ve had them, I can’t spend a day without them. And the rest of the world is just a distant second.
This last point is the one I make most clearly with my childless friends. I kind of gloss over the wrecked house and the wild mood swings. But I usually emphasize the addiction part. I don’t know if that makes me look crazier than I am. I don’t know if they walk away feeling relieved in the choices they’ve made. But I do.
*It has come to my attention that someone who works for DCFS is actually aware of this blog. So it might not hurt to be a little repetitive when stating that I’ve never done crack, Brian.