Saturday, March 1, 2014

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Raising Kids Can Be Hell (but here is an upside)

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New Years Eve, my house, 2013


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Ever since I started blogging about my kids I’ve had a lot of friends ask me whether or not they should have kids. And I always tell them that I didn’t really want to have kids. I’d always found them irritating, smelly, and drooly. I thought a lot about everything I would lose after I had children: money, sleep, and freedom. I thought about how much I despise when other people's kids cgot all up in my face with their boogery noses. I thought about the way they cried and whined and knew that it just wasn’t for me.

It never crossed my mind what I might gain from having kids. And I think part of the problem was people with kids bitch a lot. And keep in mind, that I am just as guilty as anyone else. I often complain about being tired or broke. I tell people about all the sacrifices I’ve made for my kids. The long hours and the long nights. And when I think about that, it's no wonder I didn’t want to have kids. Parents make child rearing out to be hell, and I never understood why having a child wouldn’t be the worst experience of my life.

Now, that I have two kids, I can say from experience that raising kids can be hell. It can be stressful. And I did indeed give up a lot after having them. But at the same time, I’ve gained a lot too.

I don’t think I understood what it meant to be proud until my six-year-old son scored his first goal in a game after I’d spent the summer teaching him to play soccer. I didn’t know what it meant to have a warm heart until I spent an evening snuggled next to my four-year-old daughter reading The Cat in the Hat. I didn’t know funny until my son started developing a sense of humor. I didn’t know cute until I attended my daughters’ first ballet recital. I didn’t know excitement until I watched my kids open their Christmas gifts. I didn’t know frustration until my son started getting assigned homework, and I had to teach him the importance of studying. And I didn’t know the satisfaction or perseverance until I came into Tristan’s room and found him reading on his own. I didn’t know tenderness until the night Norah climbed into my lap, grabbed me by the face, kissed my nose, and said, “You’re a good daddy.”

I could go on, but the fact is, my kids give my life value and purpose, and although I sacrifice a lot for them, I gain more than I could've imagined.  

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times Motherlode, Huffington Post Parents, Huffington Post Weddings, and The Good Men Project. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley