Ah, Nathan. Normally, I love and appreciate your sharp emotions and fiery rhetoric—they make DadWagon such an intense delight. But today, alas, I fear they’ve led you astray. You’ve forgotten one of this dadblog’s prime directives:
Fuck the kids—it’s all about me.
Your argument—for those just joining us, Nathan is in favor of having kids whenever, regardless of the parents’ material circumstances—went like this:
It’s tempting to be terrified about trying to raise kids poor in a country that doesn’t care for the health or education of very young kids. But Steve is right about one other thing: kids don’t need your middle-class comfort and spacious living. My wife and I brought our daughter into this world in a 500 square foot apartment that we shared with her and my mother-in-law. That was, perhaps, excessively small, but only because it was three generations. We searched for more space–and are now paying dearly every month for it–before the second child was born, because we had this idea that Children Need Space.
This is a very kidcentric view of my quasi-position. (If you recall, I’m actually the one telling my brother to have kids now and not wait!) But it assumes that I wanted to have a larger apartment for the baby’s sake. Please! I’m not sure I ever particularly cared about my spawn’s ability to roam freely indoors, but I was certainly concerned with my own. After nine years in cramped quarters, I didn’t want to have to hike up five flights of stairs to my apartment, only to have to clamber over a crib, assorted shitty plastic toys, and a somewhat irate wife—whose justifiable anger probably stemmed from the fact that I’d just returned from a three-month-long overseas work trip, saddling her with every second of childcare hell.
Is that selfish? Yes, I guess. Now that I actually have a child, I think I could have handled the earlier situation (although my being away most of the year would have been a problem, I’m sure). Recall again, you and I actually agree that parents shouldn’t wait for the “perfect time” to have kids. My post came about because I’m trying to convince my brother and his wife of that same idea!
That said, despite my regret at not having had Sasha earlier, if Jean and I had had kids earlier—in, say, 2003, to pick a random year—it might have been a disaster. Again: for me, not for the kid. At the time, I had a not-very-exciting editing job, and with a child to take care of, it’s unlikely I would’ve been able to quit said job and embark on the world-exploring trip that got me hooked up with the local newspaper. Instead, I’d be frustrated at work, and dreaming of the life I might’ve had if only I’d waited a little longer. Would having a kid cheer me up? Probably, somewhat. But don’t we always argue that a happy dad makes for happier kids? (Isn’t that why we drink so much?) So, Jean and I put it all off for a little while, we’re more comfortable with our lives and careers, and I think that rubs off on Sasha.
There is, however, one other dark “what if?” possibility to consider. Imagine I’d stayed in that other job, and had a child instead of gallivanting. If so, I—frustrated writer that I was—would probably have started dadblogging much earlier, unleashing my ignorant (and, pace Nathan, slutty) opinions upon the unsuspecting Internet hordes for many more years than I have so far. And for that, my friend, you should be thankful that Jean and I waited.