Monday, April 22, 2013

Our Friend, the Regretful Dad

Popping in to say hello and tell you about our house guest - my hubby's friend Brian - who is visiting with us for a few days.  He lives about 1,000 miles away, so it's only once every 3 or 4 years that we have the pleasure of seeing him.

Brian is married with 3 kids, age 16, 5 and 7.  He left the wife and kids at home and is enjoying some guy time with my hubby.

He wasn't here 5 minutes before he made this comment:  "When I was young, I was unhappy because I wasn't married and didn't have kids.  I had lots of money in the bank but felt my life was so empty and miserable.  Man....I didn't know what misery is." 

Later, he made other comments referring to his "miserable existence".

On Saturday, I left hubby and Brian to do their thing and gave hubby a briefing on what I'd be doing - that I was heading out for a day trip with my girlfriend Sara for the day.  Brian commented on how cool it is that we still get to do whatever we feel like doing every weekend, and how he can't remember what that is like.  He said all he does on weekends is cater to the kids and their activities and watch his money disappear.

The thing about Brian is  - he's brutally honest.  He's a funny guy and laughs and tries to make light of this stuff, but it's obvious that although he loves his children, if he could go back and do it again, he would have chosen our life instead of the one he chose. 


CFVixen said...

It is such a contrast when you look at the "childed" life compared to the "childfree" one. And it's good that he's honest about it! If more people were, I think more and more people would be thinking twice.

Lisa S. said...

Then why on God's green Earth did he/they have THREE children?!?!?!

He didn't notice after the first kid (who, I noticed, is considerably older than the other two) that his life was drastically different and having more probably wouldn't make it any better?

kangamasf said...

Whew! He's got a long way to go before he'll be a empty nester with the benefit of spending every weekend doing whatever he wants. Then he'll be scrambling to save for retirement.

Anonymous said...

I secretly love hearing about people I don't like from the past becoming parents.

Unknown said...

I think it's sad when people regret having kids after they have them. Sad for the parents & for the children. This is why we need to get the word out that it's not only OK not to have kids in a kid-centric world, but that we (older ones like me) DON'T regret not having kids, and are in fact quite happy.

There have been several studies showing that married childfree people are happier than married parents. I also surveyed over 4,000 non-parents for my book, and 96.9% said they are happy "being kid-free."

Let's get the word out before another good guy like Brian gets sucked in!
Kaye Walters, Author, Kidfree & Lovin' It!

RS said...

I just don't understand why people seem so completely blindsided by the realities of parenting. Yes, parenting is hard, brutal, thankless, expensive work. And if you're not up for that, then don't have kids. If children were some sort of rarity that could not be independently observed, I could understand this inability to understand what parenting would entail, but considering how we've allowed children to crawl into every facet of our culture, there's no excuse.

I guess a lot of people just expect that they'll be able to dump all of the parenting responsibilities on their partner and go on living the same life they're used to.

Alex said...

Add me to the list of people who don't get how you can be alive in the world for more than a couple of decades and not get just how horrible parenting often is. I know it's considered heretical for parents to come right out and say they regret having kids, but even those who don't say it manage to convey similar sentiments in other ways.

Just in my office, for example, I have several coworkers with kids who are constantly complaining about how they never get any sleep, how much of a PITA it is to pick a school for their kids, how they fight with their spouses more, how expensive kids are, how they can't wait for the kids to grow up and move out, how their kids have disappointed them...etc. One coworker had teenagers, and LOVED to tell the people with younger kids "you think it's bad now, just wait."

In comparison, I almost never hear any of them say anything nice about having kids, and when they do, the ratio of nice comments to bad comments is about 1:10. If something sucked 90% of the time and was great only 10% of the time, why in hell would I want to do it? If that was the ratio of good:bad in my marriage, I would have gotten a divorce years ago. And yet it's considered perfectly normal to have that ratio with parenting, and everyone is expected to just suck it up and do it! Why do so many people fetishize misery so much?

Other that plain old denial, the only thing I can think of that would make people disregard such blinding warning signs is that they don't think having kids is a choice, and they're trying to convince themselves it's not so bad since they have no choice but to do it.

Unknown said...

I think that people who have kids shouldn't complain to the level that they do. The thing that annoys me is that we're expected to listen to them go on and on and whenever we may hint at a complaint on our behalf, they have a complete rant at us often with the line, "it's ok for you- you don't have kids!!!!!!!!". No I don't, problem? Another thing I hate is that we have to listen to every detail of everything that happens to them but we can never mention any day or night out because it's "selfish to talk about all of your free time!!!!!!!".
People should stop kidding themselves that parenthood is perfect, and television especially should stop running stupid adverts for parents all the time!

The Don said...

I just discovered this blog and just want to say how much I appreciate it. The taboo viewpoint that you express here is a breath of fresh air. Our society is obsessed with kids and I can't make sense of it.
I'm a 30 y.o. guy in a relationship with a divorced mom of a 5 y.o. The kid was 3 when I met him and despite my concerns the woman is wonderful enough to get me almost 3 years into the relationship now and have lived together almost two years. The child spends about a third of his time (4 days every other weekend plus extra days here and there and anytime we go on vacation) with his dad, without that time we have without the kid, there's no chance I would have maintained this relationship.
It's an interesting thing to look back on because if I had run away there's a good chance I would have ended up getting suckered into having my own kid sometime down the road. Since I am experiencing a part-time stepdad role now I couldn't be more sure that I will never have one of my own and would strongly advise anyone to think long and hard about the lifelong sacrifices involved in having a child. Although, you can't really advise people such a thing because in our society children are the ultimate life goal, one that anyone can accomplish regardless of their means, education and such. When I tell my dudes not to have kids I see more and more listening to me though. I think my generation is bigger on personal freedom than previous.
What's crazy is that he really is a pretty well behaved kid, rarely cries or throws fits and all that, bit it's still a brutal nonstop take take take watch me feed me listen to me totally ungrateful little kid situation.

So here I am, taking one for the team to help raise this child, but he's not mine and I don't let his existence shackle me in the way full time parents have to, so I still consider myself childfree. And am now a follower of your blog. It's great for my personal morale. So thanks!

Temujin said...

He does theoretically have options. He could leave his family. The two of them could give one or more of the kids up for adoption. There are hospitals that let you leave infants there no questions asked, up to a certain age. He could fake his own death and start a new life. Parenting is not 100% unescapable once you have kids, just really hard to get out of.

If he's choosing not to do that, then he should own up to his choices, which, apparently, is not something that he's good at.

After all this complaining, if he has ANOTHER kid after this, I say you cut him out of your life. No more right to complain when you know better and you do it anyway.

Karie Heathcoat-Kieffer said...

I can't tell you how happy I am that I found your blog! It's so good to know that the hubs and I aren't the only family who chooses to remain CF. I hear people complain all the time about how much their kids have ruined their lives/ free time/ money etc. and don't feel sorry for them at all. We recently moved to a new city, and I'm having a hard time meeting other 29-30 something non-mommies to be friends with, so your blog is a great place to feel connected to other women like myself. Thank you and looking forward to reading more!

Sherri.S said...

That's so sad. People who are planning to have kids should find a friend with the worst behaved kids they know, and babysit them for an entire weekend. That will give them an idea of what it will be like. And if you find just 2 days with those kids hard, imagine what spending the next 18+ years with them will be like.

Seasons Change Yoga said...

Wow Sarah! Your blog is highly entertaining. Lots to ponder. It's refreshing to hear thoughts on the child free lifestyle for a change.

Felly Andrea said...

I just found the blog and I love it! I honestly can rattle off 10-15 reasons I am child free at the drop of a hat and only hear about 3 reasons for someone wanting a family. I'm sorry but "the ticking clock" is not a good reason either is "I want a baby." Do people not understand they are also saying "I want a toodler/fussy baby/sick child/teenager/adult living at home at age 30/etc?" I'm so sick of women my age telling me what I'm missing out on when they have a baby. I know damn well what I'm missing. I have rescued cats and they are the most rewarding thing in my life. They are happy when I come home and greet me at the door. I don't have to worry about them becoming a scourge to society. I'm so glad I don't have children!!!

Felly Andrea said...

I really like your point, "...children are the ultimate life goal, one that anyone can accomplish regardless of their means, education and such. "

Felly Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Temujin said...

You know why he's talking to you about this, right?

If he talks to another parent he may not get a fair hearing. He'll run into one of three responses:

1) Denounced as a heretic or mentally unstable. "How could anyone not love their children?" Obviously he needs some psychiatric help. This will no doubt come up in the divorce hearings.

2) Be pressured to repeat the party line that it's all worth it in the end. Don't ever cross the taboo that it might have been a mistake that he regrets.

3) Other parents will vent all the things they hate about being parents. And then it will become a competition. They'll tell him he has it lucky, because so-and-so has an even worse situation. And, of course, he's so lucky he's a man, because he never has to put up with X, Y, Z, etc.

beretta1071 said...

I agree I don't understand where the ignorance and or denial of how difficult raising children is comes from. I see children all the time in the store and other places and parents trying to control them, not easy.

That is why I chose also to not have children, don't want the responsibility, cannot even fathom it. My husband and I have been quite happy without them, though I think my husband would have liked to have one, but is ok with not having them.

I would not want to bring children into this awful world, nor do I want everything that comes with it.