Yes, it’s a parenting cliche. But it’s so true and therefore I must confront it:
“They grow up so fast.”
We live in the age of Instagramming. Granted, I’m not actually cool enough to have a smart phone to share a vintage photo version of what my kid just did any given moment of his waking hours.
But I see Instagrams all the time on Facebook. Some being unintentionally ironic and uncreative- like a picture of a Starbucks cup. Others, however, are photos of something a bit more relevant and important in life.
Like our kids.
And I think that’s a pretty symbolic concept. Prepare for me to get deep here.
If you’re like me, you spend the majority of your time doing the things you don’t want to, like driving to and from work, being at work, cleaning dishes, etc.
A very small percentage of my life is actually spent doing what I really want to do; which is spending time with my wife and son.
So I constantly carry my camera around in an effort to capture every warm, fuzzy moment I can. Because as I’ve written, these are the longest years and the shortest days of my life; being a parent, that is.
It’s my attempt to magnify the best parts of my life and be able to share them with everyone who cares.
Consider this: We are constantly traveling through time and space.
My best Internet research tells me that since the Earth is always spinning, we are constantly moving at 1,040 miles per hour. (Correct me if I’m wrong on that.)
Good thing for gravity.
We are forced to travel forward into time while simultaneously stuck in physical locations we don’t necessarily want to be and participating in events we’d rather not.
There is no such thing as the present. Once we think, “this is now,” it’s no longer now. It’s back then.
So anytime we can make a positive memory into one that is eternal, indestructible, and virtually omnipresent, why wouldn’t we?
So why is Instagram so cool? It automatically “retro-izes” events that just happened, dressing them up like a Dharma Initiative Polaroid in order to direct-deposit the memory into the classic “good times” folder in our brains.
That’s basically what deja vu is- when our brains mistakenly file a current memory as a classic one.
Now back to the beginning: “They grow up so fast.”
We can’t stop it. We can barely detect the tiny changes in our children that happen overnight. We want to hold on to “this version” of our kids forever.
The next best thing we have to pressing the pause button on their current cuteness is to take a picture and therefore speak a thousand words.
That is how we travel back in time to places we’d rather be.
It’s a decision that only my wife and I can make for ourselves, yet we’re open to hearing input from the free world.
For the past several months now, we have been leaning towards the decision to only have one child. It’s not the stress of parenthood getting the best of us. After all, at 18-months old, our son is pretty low-maintenance.
He’s the best son we can ask for and we’re so blessed to have him. So… why overdo it and have another kid?
I love the idea of only having our son. We can pour all of our energy and time into this one special person.
Whatever interests and passions he wants to pursue, we can support him fully.
No conflicts with our other kids’ schedules. No fighting in the back seat on the drive to Florida for family vacation.
Less financial worries. Less stress on our marriage.
As we’ve talked to couples who decided to only have one kid, they share no regrets about it.
I admit: I want to be part of the cool “One Kid Only” club.
As I try to sort through this, I gather reasons why we should consider having another child:
Who will take care of us when we’re old? What if something happens to our son and then we have no children at all? Wouldn’t it be sad for our son if he had no siblings to grow up with?
While I can continue to think of more Debbie Downer questions like these, I really don’t see how answering them will change how I feel:
I want to raise an only-child. I believe I will be feel completely fulfilled with just one kid.
Right now I am 31 years old and my wife almost is. Biologically, we’re still good for several more years.
So how long do we wait before we know to go ahead and make it official? How long before I go “get the surgery” and I can move forward as the proud parent of one child?
Yes, I know: If my parents would have made the same decision then my sister wouldn’t be here. Neither would my wife, who is 9 of 10 kids.
I want my wife to get her “mating’s worth” out of me. That’s important. And it would be one thing if I was simply telling my exclusive thoughts on this, but I’m not.
In fact, though I’ve been kicking this blog idea around for months now, I didn’t actually plan to write or publish it.
But my wife convinced me otherwise. This is something we both feel the same way about, yet want to be sure about.
This can ultimately only end in one of three ways that I can think of:
A) We delay up to about 4 more years before I get the surgery.
B) We choose to have another kid.
C) We surprisingly get pregnant as we try to figure this out.
Okay, passing the mic to you now. The two of us want your insight. Any advice and direction you’re willing to share?
You’ve met Jack’s friends Henry and Sophie before. Well, this past Saturday morning all of us parents decided to get together so we could see how our kids play in an environment with each other outside of their daycare.
After a delicious and glorious breakfast at Henry’s house, Henry’s dad suggested we could check out the “drum circle” going on just a few blocks away.
Honestly, I had no idea what a drum circle was, but it sounded random and therefore enticing… so it was fine by me.
The nine of us made our way to a white tent, covering a man playing a giant bongo drum. In his midst were plenty of chairs for visitors and various sized of bongos for us all to play on.
I guess the concept is that you just show up and drum along to the beat, letting friendly conversations and positive vibes do the rest.
Henry and Sophie seemed to get it. As for Jack, he was more of a skeptic. The tambourine seemed to be more his speed; of course while holding a yellow car he snatched from Henry’s house.
“Jack is like the old man telling the hippies to get out of his yard playing that crazy music,” Henry’s dad pointed out.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
I did think it was funny how while we were there, it was pretty much just us parents and toddlers. The event was similar to many of the scenes in the movie Garden State.
If only Jack were able to remember going to the drum circle when he was 18 months-old, he would say, “Hey dad, remember that time we went to that weird tent where that guy was playing a drum for no reason and we all were supposed to play along? Well, what was that all about? And weren’t Henry and Sophie there too?”
As I tell this story now, it sounds more like a strange dream; which is how most of my childhood memories remain in my mind.
But really, it was the perfect morning. What better way to spend it than with friends all trying something exciting and new… and random.
Those kinds of memories are the best. Shared experiences that in hindsight seem abstract and even pointless.
That’s what adds character to friendship; even for toddlers.
Not to mention, it was free to go to the drum circle. Not even an awkward tip jar.
By using my administrator tools for The Dadabase last week, I discovered that some random person found The Dadabase by Googling, “Why do Caucasian parents share their bed with their kids?”
Accordingly, I want to thank that mysterious parent of Asian, African, or Middle Eastern descent for helping me realize something about myself:
I’m a Caucasian (mostly) and therefore I’m more likely to be involved in attachment parenting. That includes, but is not limited to, the following:
The anti-circumcision movement, co-sleeping, natural childbirth, home birth, breastfeeding, homeschooling, support of organic and local foods, and babywearing.
Until this week, I never put it together that attachment parenting is largely a white people thing. And when I say “white people” I don’t mean it in neither a superior nor a derogatory way.
It was about two years ago that I read the satirical blog and book, Stuff White People Like, which helped me differentiate the cultural quirks of Caucasian Americans compared to the minorities.
(Granted, most of us are aware that Caucasians are the minority of the world and eventually will soon no longer be the majority of America.)
So to quench my curiosity on the connection between Caucasians and attachment parenting, I asked my readers, via The Dadabase Facebook wall. The most interesting answer I received was this:
“I’ve been a nanny/caregiver for over 20 years and your question about parenting styles of different races is interesting. I have seen different styles between the white, Hispanic, black and Asian people I’ve worked for. The co-sleeping for example was allowed in the white and Hispanic families but not in the black families; VERY prohibited in the Asian family. The co-sleeping families even wanted their children to sleep with me when staying overnight but the other families would have flipped at that suggestion.”
There. It’s confirmed. Caucasians are more likely to be involved with attachment parenting. (See Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in the movie Away We Go, between 1:25 and 1:40 of the clip featured at the bottom of this article.)
But as some pointed out on The Dadabase Facebook wall, it’s not so much about race as it is about culture. Good point.
I’m in the middle of reading an awesome book called Microtrends, which opened my mind a bit to something I never really had thought about before:
“Race scholars contend that race is an experience, not a fact.”
Here in Nashville, it is quite common to see Chinese girls adopted by Caucasian parents, who interestingly pass onto to them their Southern accents. As those girls grow into teens and adults, are they truly Asian in any cultural sense whatsoever?
Am I any less “white” just because my maternal grandmother is a dark-complected Mexican? Technically, I’m something like 75% white. But the fact I eat hot sauce with every single meal is something I picked up from my Caucasian dad, not my Hispanic grandma.
The real question is, how culturally Caucasian am I? If it’s in regards to Caucasians and their link to attachment parenting, then I would say I’m a lot less white than I used to be.
My wife and I started out being all about having a natural birth, exclusively breastfeeding, using cloth diapers, mostly co-sleeping… all that good stuff. Yeah, none of that actually worked out for us.
It’s pretty funny now; seeing that I’m huge advocate of incorporating the “cry it out” method.
But the three of us did become vegetarians along the way. So score a few “Caucasian points” for me on that one.
But over all, if attachment parenting is a Caucasian thing, then…
I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so!
Whenever I say or type the phrase “thank you,” I instantly assume I actually just said “f— you.”
To me, the words sound so similar.
It’s not that I’m a vulgar person. In fact, my constant suspicion of my subconscious has much more to do my preoccupation of not being vulgar.
My habit of questioning my automatic actions bleeds into my parenting abilities.
Each time after having just strapped my son into his car seat and starting the ignition, I run the following questions through my head before looking over my shoulder at him:
“Did I actually strap him in all the way? Is he crawling around right now on the floor of my car? Is he outside, behind the car? Will I back over him?”
I just don’t want to commit some huge crime on account of running on autopilot. It’s not that I question my abilities as a dad.
Instead, I question my most unguarded moments in the midst of my daily dad duties. One little slip-up can instantly morph into an avalanche; in regards to protecting the life of my child.
I don’t fear being a bad dad. I fear being a good dad who in one careless moment throws it all away.
What if I somehow accidently cause my son to lose an eye or allow him to choke to death on a piece of bread? What if he suffocates during the night, trapped under his blanket and I’m not there to stop it?
It’s not that I’m overcome by the fear of “what if’s?” but instead, like a good Boy Scout, I always want to be prepared to keep these things from happening.
I want to prevent these catastrophes like Desmond repeatedly saved the life of Charlie on Lost in season 3.
Taking this “2nd guessing concept” a step further in parenting, there are so many controversial topics when it comes to deciding what is right in raising a child.
Are you wrong or right for letting your child “cry it out?” Should you regret letting your child receive immunizations? Why are some parents against letting their toddlers drink juice?
After having made a decision for your child, do you second-guess it or are you proud to have done what is right for you as a parent?
There will always be something to question yourself on as a mom or dad. But it’s my goal to make the best-researched and most-educated decisions and then follow them through.
If I’m wrong for letting my son cry it out, we’ll find out eventually. As for now, I’m confident in how wrong or right I am in my decision.
I just don’t have the mental capacity to honestly worry about that, in particular. I’m too busy trying to make sure I only just said “thank you” and not its evil counterpart.