I’m sitting at work one day a few months ago and a guy (let’s call him Stan) asks me, “Hey Ian, if you could do it again, would you still have a kid?” It didn’t take me long to respond with a resounding “nope.” Followed with laughter. (My daughter was sitting right there, she’s been coming to work with me her entire life.) But later that day, upon further thinking I discovered that I was kinda serious. This sort of transparency is common among parents who are so diligent in their parental duties that they have the clarity of conscience to be able to admit when those wonderful little fuckers [kids] just flat out annoy us.
Life for the ambitious single man can be challenging enough without having to feel like you’ve got four legs [two big, two small, just constantly following you around]. After a long day you have to wait to take a dump and get into the shower because your 8 year old beats you to the punch. So while clenching your ass cheeks you take the opportunity to sift through her school paperwork while on a conference call. To add insult to injury, she’s singing Christmas carols in the shower three months after the fact to remind you of how that holiday abused your bank account. Shut uppp! You bellow in a gravely ascending manner to which she just giggles in response while you’re also ordering dinner (usually pizza). You’re watching precious time fly by and you’re nowhere near making your deadline for work.
What’s this? The school is offering to let you pay them a few bucks for your kid to dress casual tomorrow? How much we spend on uniforms? I lit the letter on fire, just for effect. “Sweetheart, don’t forget to take your uniform out for tomorrow!” I yell across the house. She doesn’t hear me, “If you sit on my lap today, a kiss, a toy is the price you’ll pay…” I bite back “Shut… Up!” More laughter. This is a normal night in my house.
A text: “Yo bro, college night. There’s gonna be mad chicks…”
And that’s the thing: there’s never enough time to do things if you’re solo parenting right; so when I have to discard my own plans and personal comfort, it ain’t easy, but it’s all a part of the game. When I feel like I’m tired of playing, I think of the funeral rule I learned from my grandfather; the loudest mourners at the wake usually carry the heaviest burdens of guilt. It’s true. I’ll never have any regrets with my daughter so when I get that nifty little letter about back to school night, I have no qualms about crumbling it up and practicing my jumper into the kitchen trashcan. (I didn’t have time to get to the gym that night anyway.)
I’ve never been absent for a tooth that fell out of my kid’s head so I don’t feel the least bit guilty for not sacrificing a Saturday to accompany her at Chuck E. Cheese for a classmate’s birthday party (Fridays are normally my nights off from everything, I’m usually hungover by Saturday [and justifiably so]. The last thing I want to do on said Saturday is surround myself with more kids.)
Evading the crosshairs of Chris Rock‘s masterful bit about parenthood via stand-up special Bring the Pain circa 1996 at all costs; allow me to announce that I do not seek reparations – only understanding.
I’m not one to stand on ceremony. And in my experience, usually the types of people who are – generally tend to be full of shit. You’ve seen the Instagram parent who shows up at every public event snapping photos but skips out on all of the gangster shit when it comes to parenting; education, etiquette, quality time, guidance, conversations, discipline, lectures, listening, and loving. Hold on, my forehead itches and I must scratch it (with my middle finger.)
It’s sort of like comparing those two relationships we’ve all seen where one couple is super fake and hugged up in public yet they practically rip each other to shreds privately versus the other; who might appear to be so used to one another’s shit that they seem to barely tolerate each other but would never think of abandoning their relationship. My roots of devotion to my daughter are so deep that it’s virtually impossible for me to feel any level of inadequacy for not subscribing to anyone’s standard of expressing love but my own.
I personally believe that’s where confidence comes from doing what you do so well that you are totally comfortable operating on your own terms. It’s a beautiful thing to learn what love truly is hugs, kisses, and an occasional swift kick in the balls. But somehow I’m happier as a dad than I ever was when not one. In retrospect, the next time someone like Stan asks me if I’d have a kid again; I’d probably still say no. However, I would say that I’d have my kid again – a million times over.