To reproduce or not to reproduce, that is the question. Many decide for and many decide against and many have the decision taken out of their hands entirely, one way or another, and somehow it manages to be difficult no matter which road you’re on. Since bringing Baby Pickles into the world, a number of friends have asked me questions about what it’s really like living with a baby to help them with their own decisions. In writing an email on the subject recently, it occured to me that many of the thoughts were ones I would like to share here. So I’ve taken some of my emails on the subject and edited them for your eyes. I would love to hear if any of you with kids experience any of this in the same way or what those thinking about having or not having them are taking into account.
Babies! Having kids is a totally insane/amazing mixture of the absolute best of times and the absolute worst of times. It’s absolutely awesome—and the good times make the bad times totally irrelevant and forgotten—but still. I don’t like to gloss over the fact that it’s not all rainbows and kittens and lollipops. That being said I think just about everybody can handle way more than they ever imagined, and that is another of the fantastic amazing fuck-yeah parts about having kids. You get to find out what a superhero you secretly were all along.
So. To have ’em or not to have ’em? I know part of my own wanting kids is this sad twinge I get when I think about growing old without kids directly in my life. On my dad’s side we have this awesome family group, not too big and not too small, and I really just love the whole family dynamic and family thing. Living so far away from them all, I figured that if I wanted a family thing in my life, I would have to make my own. DIY! Hahaha.
What I fucking love, and what takes up the majority of the baby time now is just how frickin fascinating this little person is. Yesterday I had one of those moments—and I have them quite often—when I look at her and just can’t believe that she could possibly be real. And I said to her, “Hey look Pickle, you’re a little person! How did you do that?” Kids just fill your life with constant magic. I’m convinced that they are still capable of the magic that we all could do if civilization wasn’t filling us up with other thoughts and aspirations, with computer skills and insurance bills and retirement plans, and it is so wonderful and beautiful and fulfilling to be allowed to spend just about every minute of every day in the presence of that magic. I feel like it brings some of my own magic back to me.
I would love to tell you its totally easy and all, and it has been mostly with Pickles, and it totally can be. But I don’t want to say that, not really, since everything will depend on who your baby is. Mine happens to be pretty low key, and she fits easily into our lives. But I have friends with high-needs babies who are a lot different than Pickles, so I don’t want to be all like all babies are easy! Some babies are easy, and I think babies in general aren’t hard in the way that mainstream culture likes to act like they are—as if they ruin your life and trap you and make you boring or all the sitcom stereotypes. Babies who are “hard” just tend to need a lot, and as the fulfiller of those needs, you need more too. And then you discover that your well of patience actually goes way deeper than you ever imagined, or you hand your baby off to a partner or friend and are warmly, happily reminded of the beauty and neccessity of community.
The day to day taking care of a baby (though I can only speak up to six months) isn’t hard at all, just a new pattern to get used to. Diaper changes, feedings, and always planning for your tiny and constant companion. I personally felt really ready for kids in that I felt like my life had already come round to a place where the things I wanted to do were all things that were possible with a baby and the things that I didn’t want to do were the things that don’t fit so well with having a baby. But traveling and making art and music? Perfect kid stuff. All the stuff that isn’t so easy with kids is kind of lame anyway. Like drinking a lot all the time and then being hungover the next day. Fuck that.
Right now I’m sitting on one side of the Wagen typing, and the Beard and Baby Pickles are on the bed playing banjo. We trade Pickles back in forth in rhythm with each of our creativities. The Beard plays the babe music while I sit and type and so on. I do find it really hard to get time to write however, so far, and I think (hope) this will change with age. You just become so interruptible, particularly when you are still exclusively breast feeding, and I tend to need time to get into the flow of the words. A lot of times I will sit down to write and get interrupted before I find that flow or just after.
At the same time i feel like having Baby Pickles has just made my priorities so much easier to sort out, which in turn creates more space for my art. When I have time I really get shit done, and when she needs me I just ignore everything else and enjoy being with her. Whenever things feel hard I just think about how short this time of her life is and how fucking cute she is even when she’s inconsolable (though that happens rarely with her, luckily). Making music is a lot easier, and I envy the Beard a bit for being able to do his passion with Pickles. It is pretty boring to sit and watch someone type.
You asked if it changed our relationship: Oh hell yeah, but in all sorts of really good ways. Also totally not like the stereotype of mainstream kidness you hear about. We have been way more lovey dove since. It is really fucking amazing to watch your partner be a parent, and it totally makes you all crush on each other all over again. Bringing a baby into the world feels like doing magic, and casting a spell that complex and amazing can bind you together tighter than you ever imagined was possible.