By this point, I think it's pretty clear that I hold the opinion that parenthood is a racket. But it's not just a racket in the way you are thinking. Today I am talking about the NOISE!
This may seem like a trivial issue and certainly not a primary reason not to have children but it is worth discussing. How on earth can people stand the chaos and noise that comes along with having kids?
I have a very close friend, Sara, who I've known for 22 years. She's like a sister to me. Through 16 years of our friendship she was sans children, and then in her late 30s she got married to her second husband and they decided to have kids. They have two sons - one who is soon to be 6, the other who is 2.
Sara and I get together about once every 2 weeks. Usually she comes to my house or we go out someplace together, but there is the occasional get-together that entails me visiting her at her house, like last night.
The second I step into her house, I immediately feel my stomach twisting into knots. The kids come running to me and are clearly happy to see me (they even refer to me as an "aunt") but from there, it's all downhill. The entire time I am visiting, the 6 year old is talking (i.e. yelling) at the top of his lungs and continually interrupting Sara and me as we are trying to have a conversation. He thinks that because he says, "excuse me" repeatedly, it's okay to interrupt. Sara does little to stop him - she gently encourages him to go play in the other room, but when he doesn't (and keeps interrupting us) she allows him to sit there and be a non-stop annoyance. Sara tries to have a conversation with me, but hears nothing I say. I give up trying to talk with her.
The 2 year old is in the throes of "terrible twos" and has a hair-trigger temper tantrum reflex that get set off by the tiniest of things. The entire time I am visiting, he is squirming, and fighting and yelling and being a generous nuisance.
The house is in complete disarray with toys and junk stewn everywhere. This, combined with the noise level puts me into fight-or-flight survival mode, and I get this urgent impulse to run screaming from the house. It's hard to sit there and maintain a calm exterior because inside I am churning.
Sara's house is not unique. Everyone I know who has young children lives like this. Noise, chaos, stress, power struggles, negotiating, mess, pushing, pulling, fighting. It starts the moment they wake up and it ends when they finally collapse exhausted into bed each night. How can they stand it? Is it is something that one just becomes immune to over time? It seems that way because as I sit there with my anxiety level at 10 and the violent urge to run for the hills, I look over at my friend and she doesn't seem the least bit flustered. Her face is relaxed as she dutifully jumps up and down to deal with each crisis. This is her new normal.
Sara is happy in her life (she's one of the few moms I know who sincerely seems happy in the role), so I am happy for her, but I have to say - my occasional visits to her house always impart on me a HUGE sense of relief for the life of calm I have chosen. When I got home last night and walked into my serene house, I was greeted by the gentle purr of my three furbabies. Hubby was flopped on the couch watching a movie. I had entered our oasis. All was right in the world.