Don’t Have Children.

That’s what a woman at Costco said to me today. It was one of those lines that stick with you for the rest of the afternoon. Not because I plan to listen to her. Heck, I surround myself with 30 kids five days a week. I like them.

But, I also wonder how it will be different when they are my own. Right now I know 15 pregnant women. Of course, Facebook helps increase this total, but at least 6 of them I see regularly. Babies are everywhere I look. I guess that’s what happens when you’re almost 30. Eventually it will be my turn too, life willing.

This particular woman had two little ones under the age of 3. One in her cart, the other in grandma’s. “Please don’t touch the flowers, please don’t touch the flowers, STOP IT!!!” She lost her cool. As she shouted at the youngest, I realized what I must sound like when I lose my self-control at work. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I get really frustrated too. She turned to me, after aisles and aisles of keeping the same pace, and told me not to have children.

I felt for this poor woman. I could tell she was tightly wound and looking for perfection. A lot like me some of the time. I knew exactly what she felt like without even being a mom. I could imagine all the pressure. I could feel her stress in trying to maintain control. I could even see the exhaustion on her face.

I suppose in the beginning most parents have moments where they might say something similar to a perfect stranger, I just like to think I never will. I guess I have to actually have kids first to figure that out. Until then, I’m going to keep working on remaining calm in my classroom. I’m grateful to that woman for the reminder of what it looks like from the outside. I hope she finds some calm this weekend too.

Proof I'm not always rainbows and gingerbread houses either... But, at least I have a sense of humor about it!

Proof I’m not always rainbows and gingerbread houses either… At least I have a sense of humor about it.

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12 thoughts on “Don’t Have Children.

  1. kingmidget says:

    Love the picture … what I always tell people about to have their first child is this. Enjoy it. It is and will be the single most frustrating, exhausting, difficult experience you will ever have. And every day will be worth it because every day that little being will give you a reason to laugh, smile, cry, and experience life in a way that you simply can’t without kids. The only unconditional love I ever experienced was with my kids when they were born. The only unconditional love I ever received was from them in those early years.

    I applaud that woman’s honesty. I don’t believe the parents who only say it’s all bliss and beauty with their kids. If you and your husband want kids, have them, ignore the chatter from everybody else.

    Of course, now that mine are 17 and 15 and I’m in the middle of teenage hell (particularly with my oldest), I’m changing my mind about it being worth it. 😉

    • hipmamamedia says:

      Kingmidget, you are so right! Mine are 20, 18 and 15 and it has been the “toughest job I ever loved,” to paraphrase a well-known ad slogan. so many great moments of bliss and beauty, but so many when I just wanted five damn minutes alone in the bathroom without someone needing me for anything, or when I was dog-tired but had to help with homework. Now that they are pretty much young adults, it’s more of a friendship, not so much parenting, but there were days when I lost my cool just like the Costco mom. But they are the blessing of my life and I would never trade that for the world. One off moment by a tired mom does not define the entire scope of parenting.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        I totally get it– all of it, including the fact that I only have a tiny idea of what it is really like. But Hipmama, I think your comment about them being the blessing of your life sums it up. I bet that mom would say the same thing in a different setting, (or at least I hope she would!). I know I’ll lose my cool, too. Just wish there were a trick to constant calmness 😉

      • kingmidget says:

        My oldest has always been a challenge … constantly pushing the limits of my patience. He’ll be 18 this month. Both he and I can’t wait for the day when he leaves the home. It can’t come soon enough. What I wish is that just once I could tell him something he doesn’t want to hear and he would say “Oh, yeah, OK, I get it.” Or if I told him he couldn’t do something he wants to do, it wouldn’t result in hours of negotiation.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I get it’s a lot of things, including a hugely frustrating, exhausting endeavor. But is it honest to tell perfect strangers not to have them? Honest would be, “This is really hard, and I want to pull my hair out.” I know she was trying to lighten the mood and I really have no judgment of her. Made me think about times I feel that way and how one of my goals is to maintain my patience/calm. I don’t always, but I’m getting better. Knowing how silly it looks to yell at a two year old instead of redirecting her behavior reminded me of how silly I must look when I yell at my students instead of redirecting their behavior. Doesn’t mean I won’t still lose it sometimes, just reminded me how important it is to work toward a space of inner peace.

      And, I think you’ll be surprised what life is like 10 years from now when your boys are grown with lives of their own. Hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised how everything comes full circle. In a family with 5 kids, 4 of us are in our mid to late 20s and life is a completely different place for our parents than a decade ago… 🙂

      • kingmidget says:

        I remember thinking when i was a teenager that there was no way my siblings and I (four of us born five years apart) would have anything to do with each other when we became adults. We’re not necessarily the closest of families now, but my prediction didn’t come to pass.
        As for the honesty of the woman — what I was referring to was her willingness to express her frustration to you. There are a lot of parents out there, moms in particular, who only say great, wonderful things about parenting and their children. Anybody who has been through it knows it’s just not like that.
        You’re right, too, about seeing her go off on her two-year-old like that. I sometimes marvel when I see that and wonder what I was like when my kids were two. I want to go up to the parent that has lost it and say something like “you know, he’s only two. Maybe he just needs to hold him for a minute or two.” I sure hope I wasn’t like that.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        All makes sense– I agree that it’s good for parents to be honest that it’s not easy. And, I hope distance and time make things better with your son 🙂

      • kingmidget says:

        Me, too.

  2. Ariel Price says:

    Like you, I don’t have kids yet, but I know SO many pregnant women! They all say different things to me, because having kids is different for every couple. I’m sure we’ll have our own challenges to face, and it’ll be fine!

    • oliviaobryon says:

      Seriously, what’s the deal?! I feel like everyone is pregnant. I’ve hung out with three pregnant women this weekend alone… And, you’re completely right– it is so different for every couple. Such an important thing to remember when less positive comments slip their way in 😉

  3. Kozo says:

    Great post, Olivia. You show amazing empathy as usual. My goal is to never lose my cool in front of my kids. I’ve already failed a number of times, but it is my goal. The times I lost my cool, I said things that I wish I could take back or did things that I regret. The problem is that you can’t take back anything, especially with kids. My oldest remembers everything.
    i feel for the woman in Costco, but I also feel for the children hearing her tell someone never to have kids. Even if they could not understand the words, they could feel the emotion of being unwanted. Just my two cents.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I had the same thoughts, which is why I tried to put myself in her shoes. My initial inclination was to think she was horrible, but then I realized I can’t pass judgment, I’ve never been in her shoes. At which point I also vowed to try to never be in her shoes… Must harness inner peace! 😉

      But, I agree, still sad for the kids.

      I admire your goal to never lose your cool. It’s bound to happen, I’m sure, but I hope to never give my (imagined) children the feeling they’re unwanted. My parents never made me feel that way, never. Not even the slightest joke to suggest it. It’s important to me to try to be the same.

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