Can you have kids without giving up your dreams?

By Chris Brodhead

photo 1

Since reaching my mid twenties, I have been repeatedly blind sided with my impending doom ie reaching the appropriate child rearing age.

It’s even gone so far as to literally slap me right in the face thanks to my close quarter contact with Mike’s, my best friend since I was 5, 1 year old daughter Willa.

This virtual baby raising video game I am playing right now make me wonder how I might handle a drunk terrorist ie a 1 year old baby girl.

The initial thoughts are not pleasant…

These worst case scenarios are as follows:

  • I’ll have to get a 9-5 job doing something I hate
  • I’ll have a terrible boss
  • I’ll have no time to travel
  • No time to write
  • No time for friends
  • No time to workout
  • No time to live my life the way I want/need to live it

Basically the worst of all possible worlds.

But is this really the truth.  Is your life really over once you, your significant other, or your surrogate doesn’t bleed for a month?

I’m hoping to prove to you, and more importantly myself, that this is not the case.

I think the best place to start, just like with all questionable choices in life, is with the true source of all pain and loathing, money.

How much does a baby cost?  Screenshot 2014-07-01 at 10.00.55 AM

Doing a quick Google search I came across this Child Raising Calculator (looks like I’m not the only one concerned about this) and it says for a 2 parent household pulling in around $100K/year and including the cost of public college (if that even still exists in 18 years) we will spend $323K from birth until age 18.

Dividing that number by 18 years we get around $18k/year.

If my significant other and I split the cost that’s $9k/year or $747/month in extra expenses per person.

Roughly the equivalent of both of us leasing a new luxury car. Well I’ve never been much into cars so that price point is certainly not the end of the world.

After money, and arguably even more important, is time…

How much time does it take to raise a child?  

At first glance, and judging from personal experience, I would say… all of your time.  But that wouldn’t work because someone has to go to work and make money to pay for this “luxury car” baby.

So let’s say from age 0-5 you spend an hour in the morning and 2 hours at night with your child (kids sleep a lot right?).   Side note: It is assumed my significant other, myself, family member (Mom), or a babysitter/nanny would help to care for the child while the primary breadwinner/s are at work.

After working your average american 10 hours (including travel) per day that leaves you with 11 hours (24 hours in a day – 13 hours of work/child care responsibilities) to sleep and do stuff that makes you happy.  I live on around 7 hours of sleep (usually 6) so that’s potentially 4 hours per weekday of pure unadulterated me time.

Which translates, in my world, to 4 hours of time to create or do all the things that lead toward reaching my many lofty goals.  Which are as follows:

  • Create, run, and manage a company that produces $1M in annual revenue
  • Write moving and life changing screenplays that I also direct
  • Travel the world as an electronic DJ named Dr President
  • Learn 4 languages; Spanish, French, German, and Chinese
  • Shoot a soccer ball as hard and accurately as a professional fútbol-er
  • Live, for various periods, in Chicago, Austin, San Diego, Park City, Buenos Aires, Rio, Paris, Bali, Goa, Sydney, etc
  • Own a sweet downtown apartment in Chicago and 2 of those other cities (haven’t decided yet)
  • Create a chain of ultra affordable, ultra delicious, and nutritious fast food restaurants; with the eventual goal of putting McDonald’s out of business
  • Plan and create my own Bonnaroo esque Music Festival
  • Create a social media app with 50 million+ users
  • And certainly more to come

These goals are no joke (haha).  And if I plan on reaching them AND having a family, time management will be of the utmost importance.

Almost as important as deciding if I …

Am I ready for a child?

My fears all wrap up quite nicely in the quote “The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children” by Shakespeare.

This to me says “hey whatever you haven’t figured out yet and is torturing you on a daily basis is also going to torture your kids!”  ie anxiety, depression, food addiction, sex addiction, alcoholism, laziness, short temper, the list goes on…

That’s a scary thought.  I have made so many dumb decisions in my life and will without a doubt continue to make various dumb decisions until the end of my life. Does an innocent child really deserve that as well?

I want to say NO but in my own experience making mistakes, even extremely painful ones, have been the most valuable and formative experiences in my life. Experiences so enriching that life itself was better and more enjoyable after having gone through them.

Having your heart broken, dealing with severe anxiety/depression episodes, experiencing a bad trip, getting fired, losing a loved one, these are all some of the most painful experiences you can have.  But in the end you can handle them in two ways; you can take them as a sign that you really aren’t that good at life and should just give up or thank the universe for teaching you such a valuable life enriching lesson and enjoy your life more fully.

In fact I would argue you could use the love of your unborn child to motivate yourself to become as well adjusted and highly proficient at life as possible ie make and learn from as many dumb decisions as you can!

This, in theory, will either come through in their (your) DNA or through the lessons and values you teach them whilst rearing (Nature Vs Nurture).

That sounds terrifying.  Makes me wonder…

Do we even NEED to have children?

Besides our species requiring procreation to continue I believe that it completes you as a person to realize that you now care more for someone than you do for yourself.  Even if you’ve only known them a few days.

This love is so strong and so intense I believe it can help you find love for the rest of humanity.

With enough love for our fellow man there is no goal we can’t accomplish.  (Even becoming a successful DJ named Dr President)

In conclusion, having a child is no different than starting a new job, taking up a new hobby, starting a new relationship, etc.  It requires time, boundaries, learning, and as much support as humanly possible.

I am still scared shitless of having a child and raising it right, but once you examine the facts it’s not quite the apocalyptic scenario it once seemed.  It’s just a new #1 lofty goal.

 

PS It will happen when it happens.  I am certainly in no rush 😉

7 Comments

  1. Helenesays:

    I love it that you approached this in much the same way I did before my first was conceived, intentionally, a little more than 20 years ago. Geeks unite! And boy did I turn out to be wrong.

    Some of the things I failed to account for were the things that are basically unable TO be accounted for. As an example, the cost scenario presumes you have a healthy ‘normal’ child. Good luck with that. I spent more per year on medications and therapy appointments and doctor’s appointments for my two kids than I would have spent on a second (and luxury) home. And that luxury car payment? If you or your significant other lose their job you can turn the car in. Good luck with that with your kid. And the sleep issue? You are assuming that your child actually sleeps, meaning YOU can sleep. Good luck with that. Neither of my kids slept through the night until they were 3. Years old. I could go on and on. It is waywayway harder than you can calculate. And waywayway more wonderful than you can imagine. But I know you’ll be as ready as any of us can be when it happens because you are going into it with your eyes open.

  2. Rita Thompsonsays:

    Great thoughts in writing Christopher.

  3. Children are your chance to experience certain types of knowledge , love , joy, pride and admiration not gained without them. For me, not having my children, grand children and great grand children would have rendered my advanced age lonely – not quite so interesting and all the laughter I would be missing !! So feel greatfull and Blessed

  4. “I do this with your son every night”

Leave a comment

Please be polite. We appreciate that. Your email address will not be published and required fields are marked