Confession: I have always found children, by and large, to be incredibly difficult.
If you search, you may find an occasional child who is easy (by comparison), but children are difficult creatures. You may love them to death, as I do. But that does not change the fact that right alongside their charm and their innocence, they are selfish and silly and demanding and intrusive, and when you think they are finally playing quietly you will discover they are amusing themselves by breaking the wooden fretwork off your grandmother’s antique china cabinet.
This is normal. This is what children means.
They will yell at you when you don’t give them what they want, and sometimes they will yell at you when you do give them what they want, because you gave it at the wrong time or in the wrong color of cup, or you gave one to their sister too. How could you?
Parenting is not for the faint of heart. In fact if you happen to be a little deaf or a little thick-skinned, or if you have lost your sense of smell in an early bout with scarlet fever or if you have numb toes from frostbite as a teenager, all these things will stand you in good stead. Less is more
And children are difficult.
But a few children, and you will think of one in a minute – a few children
These are the ones who, by birth or nature, are magically wired to push every button you have, and some new ones you didn’t know you had. When they are tired of pushing those, they will invent new ones to push. Bzzzt. They will place you on red alert for years without a break. They will put the rest of your life on hold, and your marriage first on autopilot and then on dangerous ground as you and your husband disagree about methods and priorities. They will fail to predict consequences and rearrange their behaviors accordingly; they will not learn what you teach them. They will ruin the things that are precious to you. They will regularly threaten the people you love. They will teach you to wait for the next smashup, and for the calm, which is more deadly still. They will convince you that either they or you are headed for the psychiatric unit or the state prison, and you will lie awake at night worrying: Which? They will make you feel like the worst parent, an incompetent basket case of failure and inadequacy.
You will cry more tears for them than you ever cried for love before.
You will ache for peace.
You will feel guilty for the aching.
You will not want to get out of bed in the morning because they will be there, waiting.
I am here to say that there is hope for impossible children. There is hope for the mothers of impossible children. And in the next few days, I would like to share with you the outrageous idea that you may stand to gain from having one in your home, if you survive it.