Not a Kid-person

About a year ago my husband and I were walking through Chicago with our new baby, Gu0627_0190s, when a man stopped us, asking for money for a nearby school.

“You like children,” he inferred, gesturing at the baby.

“Well, we do have five of them,” I said.

“Five?! Whoa, you love kids! You’re crazy about kids!” He exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief.

I think it’s accurate to say that I love my kids. Sometimes I am crazy about them.  I am not, however, naturally crazy about kids in general. I am not a “kid-person.”  Kid-people gravitate towards children; they are naturally interested in what kids say; they want to give gifts; they find candy, frosting, and balloons desirable; they want to watch kid’s movies with or without children; they enjoy babysitting and are natural smilers.

I am very grateful for kid-people–they make the world a welcoming and bright place, and they make my job as a mother easier, but I am not, myself, a kid-person.

disatisfiedAbout five years ago a friend told me she wasn’t having kids because she isn’t a kid-person. At the time this seemed a strange rationale. If someone said, “I’m not a people person” and decided not to have anything to do with people we would say she has a social disfunction.  If you picked any other people group and said you don’t want that demographic in your life we would see this as a major human failing, if not bigotry.  With children (the hope of our future), however, exclusion is okay.

Hope of our future or not, I am fully willing to to admit that I have never had the “yipeee” thrill of discovering that, finally, we will be having a baby.  Each time I have learned of a pregnancy it has been a different type of difficult, but it usually involves the thoughts that: I’m not ready for this complication–I’m not organized enough, don’t have enough energy, enough time, enough patience, enough money, enough space in my life to accommodate another person with so many needs. Plus, I have my own stuff: What about Europe and doing art and getting in shape and finally getting on top of my life?

0827_0782 copyThere is a way in which I’ve never had what family planning advocates desire: “every child a wanted child.” But somewhere in the line of long days leading up to birth I’ve had the grace to do what might be the most important human action possible: I’ve had the grace and strength to bring my desires into line with reality. I’ve become able to say yes to what is being asked of me.

Sometimes we feel we must want ahead of time everything that happens or else we are being victimized by our own lives. In fact, our need to choose each event and its outcome might make us a nation of control freaks. From obsessions with choice (46 types of nut butter?) to obsessions with control (weight control, birth control, mind control, bladder control, remote controls, pain management), we are increasingly only happy within our small realms of power.

Children have taught me how little control I have. My life changes dramatically based on d and gus copy blogstomach viruses and teeth coming.  Children have showed me that being alive means the embarrassment and frustration of falling. They have showed me the pain and humiliation of trying, trying, and still not being good at what you do–but to smile with heart-brightening radiance in the midst of it. My children have taught me patience through furious tears over shoelaces, horrible potty situations, and all kinds of disobedience.

More than anything else, though, my children have taught me to get outside of myself–to transcend the tyranny of my own wants.

I have learned that if I only get what I already want there is no room for my desires to become what they should be.  It is a poverty for me to accept only what I already want. It is contentment with small-heartedness. We are naturally attached to and satisfied by a small vision for our lives. But the life we can control is always going to have a puniness to it–no matter how ambitious we are. After all, we have only a few decades to work with, a severely limited view to understand them, and the guidance of motivations warped by selfishness.  How can this render a true masterpice?

gus 10The relinquishment of that small, dear vision, however, is a death. And the acceptance of the new plan feels like death too.  Often our lives look like death followed by death, but in these Novembers followed by Decembers and Januaries and disheartening Februaries and disappointing Marches we cling to hope that does not disappoint.

And so now we, the not-kid-people, after telling you of death and disappointment, potty accidents and radiant smiles, can tell you of promise and hope, future potty accidents and future radiant smiles.  We are expecting our next little joy in October and the children want to name him Gandalf.

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33 thoughts on “Not a Kid-person

  1. Emily, your perspective is rare, or at least rarely shared in the landscape of mom blogs. Thanks for writing with honesty and hope. I can identify with the “saying yes to what is being asked of me” even though what’s been asked has been completely different from your story. It’s so true that life is full of death followed by death, interspersed with new life, especially in places we were never expecting it.
    Oh, and congratulations on expecting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this point of view. I really don’t hear women talking about this in a positive light. A lot of ‘mom shaming’ seems to happen if the subject is discussed at all. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like what you wrote. There seems to be a disconnect between kid people and non-kid people. I’m not a kid person at all, I have no interest in the things they say and can’t really respond to them anyway. However, I’m sure if I were to have a kid I’d step up to the plate and just do what’s expected of me. Right now, I’m a young 20 something and the thought of being called ‘mom’ is absolutely grotesque. My friends constantly tease me that instead of being the successful business woman I want to be, I’ll have a bunch of kids instead. I don’t see anything wrong with being ‘mom’ and ‘boss lady’ at the same time!

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    • Hi, Liz,
      Thanks for commenting. Everybody has a different path and it always looks different from what we expect! I think the important thing is to keep your heart soft in the midst of the hard things that happen on it. God bless!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this interesting article/blog. What I most am confused about is why you consider another pregnancy a surprise. I used to work with young adults at a College and when they could come to me and tell me they were pregnant I’d comment that ‘you know how this happened right?’??? I would be really SURPRISED if I had a child as I took a lot of precautions to not have a child, AND I am a ‘kid person’. I knew that I could be a good mom but I made a choice NOT to have children for a number of reason. However, I am a kid person, I also am a career woman who loves her job and is making a difference in this world, I am a GREAT aunt who has all the nieces and nephews, I am a “big sister” with Big Brothers Big Sisters! Lastly, I am still perplexed about this blog. I am not mom bashing at all, just still not 100% clear on what the intent of this blog is? Is it to say that we all need to be a mom even if we are not a kid person? I might disagree. I see too many kids not loved or cared for properly. I work with too many kids who crave the love of an adult because they don’t get it at home. Obviously you are a good mom and care about your kids, but I don’t think all ‘non kid’ people are or do parent in the same vein you do.

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    • Thanks for commenting, Timi,
      You don’t have to be a “kid-person” to have kids. You have to be willing to give. Like Mother Theresa said, “Give. But give until it hurts.” That is what love does. Most of us have a stunted ability to love because it is too difficult for us to sacrifice our preferences, comfort, and perceived rights. This stunted love is responsible for the tragic lack of parental care you witness in your work with Big Brother, Big Sister. We all need to work at giving ourselves because every one needs love.

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    • I think one of the points of the blog is to say, having children is not the same as say, being a skier or a public speaker. If I don’t like to speak in public, then I don’t have to run for mayor. I might not like skiing, and so therefore I don’t have to ski. You should like to go skiing if you go skiing I would think. But there is no such parallel with having kids. Kids are not just for those who are kid people or those who “like” kids. They are not a hobby, a choice in the same way as choosing to become a professional football player. Kids are more a part of the human experience than a choice for those who feel called to it. When I read this article, it made me think about all the reasons TO HAVE CHILDREN—especially when we don’t think we’re ready, when we don’t feel the need, when we are overwhelmed, or even when we plain flat out just don’t want children. It’s a different paradigm than the one you outline above—-don’t have children unless you can guarantee they are going to be loved and cared for. The reverse is, maybe part of having children is to give you something you cannot handle, something that will humble you, something that will make you change your lifestyle or personal choices. Maybe children are still a gift to the world even if they have parents who fail at loving them, or have problems and turn out to not properly care for them. The child is still of value and was worth having. They are not defined by the quality of care or love of a parent.

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    • Hi Timi,
      I have been “surprised” by 3 of my 4 children. I was on birth-control with all but my third, so the only other option would be to have aborted the unexpected pregnancies. How glad, how tremendously thrilled I am that the notion never entered my mind. They are splendid little people, and the two eldest are turning into lovely young ladies with talents, kindness, and growing wisdom. My husband and I were not “ready” for children, but we grew, stretched, sacrificed, and ultimately were grateful for God choosing us to be parents. I know people who like all things “kid”, but I’m not one of them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love my children unconditionally, or that I don’t enjoy being a mother. It just means I don’t like ALL kids, just like I don’t like ALL people. Kids aren’t a different species, they are just small humans.

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  5. OK, Emma, Emily; sweetheart, this is so honest, it is Holy Spirit inspired. Helen and I had our last child when she was 23. We would have accepted all that God wanted to send us, but for many reasons it stopped at three. Are we “kid persons?” We have ten grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren, with at least two more on the way. We have had much joy and much sadness, but your comment about how motherhood makes you realize how little you have control is so much ours. Thank you.

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  6. “To transcend the tyranny of my own wants”…I clicked over from Like Mother Like Daughter, thank u for sharing ..I became mommy of five in October…October babies are the best, congratulations on your news (lol…Gandalf..of COURSE Gandalf)

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  7. Loved this post and shared it to my blog. Thank you for your honest openness. I don’t think I’m a kid person, either. I love my own insanely, but am nervous around other people’s children. Thankfully, my granddaughters are close enough to mine that I love them insanely, too! =)

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  8. I’m expecting #5 (in 7 years) in September, and this is the first time I’m having major “what was I thinking??” moments. I’m not a kid person either. I’m excited for other people to have babies, because I love my babies, but I don’t so much want to be with their babies 🙂 But this really resonated: “It is a poverty for me to accept only what I already want.” Am I letting God expand my dreams? Or have I picked a life and am clinging to that original choice long before I know what else there is? I just loved this. Thanks.

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  9. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing so openly. “I have learned that if I only get what I already want there is no room for my desires to become what they should be. It is a poverty for me to accept only what I already want. It is contentment with small-heartedness.” Perfect.

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  10. Beautiful. I’ve never felt like a kid-person either, but I adore my own kids. You’ve helped me make sense of this apparent contradiction and see it as a way I’m growing in love. Thank you.

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  11. Thank you for your honesty in writing this! Your article really resonated with me. Expecting #5 in November and I have been having a hard time accepting it. The kids challenge and overwhelm me daily. “Not sure about this plan God, think this might just be too much to ask,” I find myself saying. But what choice do I have? The hound of heaven never rests.

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  12. Great blog post, its quite beautiful to reflect upon! “Often our lives look like death followed by death, but in these Novembers followed by Decembers and Januaries and disheartening Februaries and disappointing Marches we cling to hope that does not disappoint.” It’s so true how often our lives can seem so disheartening or impossible difficult at times but it is through these very trials that hope springs up and slowly but surely we become more like the person we were called to be. Such an inspiring thing to think about. 🙂

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  13. Being a kid-person is not what makes you a good mom – thank you for the reminder! I’ve never felt shaming from other moms, we’re all different and all understand the work and sacrifice involved, but often we are hard on ourselves when we feel we aren’t perfectly suited to our children in every way whether it’s personality, age, gender… love, the real kind, is blind to all that however so it doesn’t matter. Patience, kindness, fortitude, generosity of self… those are the qualities we strive for (and fail at, but keep striving!) for good mom-hood… God bless all you moms!

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  14. Pingback: I’m Not a “Kid Person” Either | Richly's Journoblog

  15. Pingback: Loving Kids Versus the Responsibility of Having Them | Richly's Journoblog

  16. Loved your post. It’s so different from the prevailing attitude towards children; that is, if a parent wants a child, then have a child. If a parent does not want a child, then prevent the child from being born. If the child cannot be guaranteed a life of security, loving care, and absolute stability—then don’t have a child. If these things can be secured, then have a child—but only if you feel the need. The thing is, sometimes what we need is not want we want. Sometimes it’s the non kid person that has 8 kids while the couple that loves and dreams of children has none. Is that part of God’s plan somehow?

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  17. Before I became a mother, I was worried because I wasn’t a “baby person.” I was never someone who rushed to hold the baby, and I had no experience with them. But of course I became a “baby person” to my baby!!! And have since developed a lot of experience and skill with babies. Of course it’s ok to have kids even if you’re not a kid person!!! Isn’t it ok to have dogs if you’re really not a puppy person? I mean, what you’re having is a person, who happens to go through a “kid” stage. I pity the poor child who’s mother was only a kid-person, because what happens when that child is no longer a kid? Congratulations on the new person!

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  18. I remember very distinctly (34 years ago) longing to carry the child of the man I was so in love with. I married him. I had been raised in a good family but until I knew Mike I had never experienced that overwhelming pull. To have his child. We have 6 of them.
    A person named Gandalf has big shoes to fill. You’re kids must have great confidence in you!

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  19. Thank you for sharing your insight. I agree that we as a society so often focus on the things we give up as parents, but that doesn’t mean that blessings don’t abound. I love the line “I have learned that if I only get what I already want there is no room for my desires to become what they should be. It is a poverty for me to accept only what I already want. It is contentment with small-heartedness.” So beautifully written. My husband and I have shared our similar experiences with parenthood on our blog http://www.acouplecatholics.com though not nearly as eloquently as you did here. And congrats on the new little one.

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  20. First of all congratulations! I love that your boys want to name the new baby Gandalf…classic!

    This piece was such a great reminder for me to continue to grow in selflessness. It was very uplifting as I often say I want a big family, but don’t always want all the extra responsibility. As a first time father of a now 7mo old, it certainly has been an adjustment for me to balance everything and realize that it’s not about me. I can certainly grow more in humility. Thank you for your perspective and insight…it certainly gives me some hope.

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  21. Well said! I am the same way and I always feel weird when I think, “but I’m not a kid person” … We have 6!

    I am such a better version of myself becuase of them. We are blessed by thier selfishness as we learn to let go of out own. What a beautiful and peaceful lesson they have taught. I never woukd have asked/hoped for it, but I’m so glad God knew better and dreamed up this life for me!!!

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  22. Thank you for this. I’m in the opposite position from you– I’m not a *no*-kids person, and yet I find myself childless and unlikely to have a family. Everything I envisioned for my life involved having at least the companionship of a spouse if not also (I was hopeful) children. I find myself without any of that. I can go to Europe, but am tired of traveling alone. My house is organized, but for no apparent greater purpose. I have friends (and plenty of children in my life), but they all have families and so I don’t have anyone as constant or close as I thought a spouse might be. There is too much alone-time, loneliness, and inferiority of purpose. I volunteer my time and energy for worthy causes and have a rather meaningful career, but I still have to fight the belief that my existence lacks value, or at least: that my life is less valuable than the lives of people who actually have families and raise the “hope of the future”. This loneliness, hopelessness, and smallness of life is not what I saw or hoped or wanted or want for myself.

    And so I feel victimized, just as you said, because I didn’t want ahead of time what has happened to me. In my case, it is an absence of children that has taught me how little control I have, an absence of children that has forced me to try to transcend the tyranny of my own wants.

    The last two paragraphs before your announcement apply so well to everyone who finds themselves struggling to put to rest their own small visions and believe that the new plan won’t kill them, and I’m glad I stumbled across them today. Thanks for your insight.

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    • AT, thank you for writing this poignant application of the same truth. It is strange how the hard things of life are somehow frustratingly, perfectly fitted for us. Though my life is very different I understand the pain of having so much to give, so much to share but having no one there to give it to or share it with. God bless you as you love in ways very different from what you’d imagined and wanted.

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  24. As others have said, a profound and awesome post. I have 9 children and like you, am not really a “kid” person. Interestingly, our 2nd child (a daughter, age almost 14) IS a kid person. She gravitates to little ones, and adores her small siblings. Living with someone who truly is a “kid person”, I see how much I am NOT.

    And yet I am, I know, a loving and caring mom. I adore, am crazy about, and delight in my kids, every one of them. I pour my life into them because God gave them to us and His ways are good. The Lord has showed me so much through my motherhood journey, and one of the biggest is my need to relinquish control. I am an engineer by training, and a natural control freak, and kids have a wonderful way of breaking through all that.

    My husband and I have also learned so much about selflessness. It isn’t in our nature — I in particular like being “comfortable” — but we’ve spent months dealing with illness and sleep deprived nights and we do it because we love our kids and know they need our care. I wouldn’t give up my own comfort for anything else, probably. God is good and these kids are part of His blessing. I am not saying, of course, that the only way to be blessed is to have a bunch of children. He has different plans for different people. One of my dear friends and one of the biggest “kid people” I know, only has 2 and had a string of miscarriages later in life. So His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. If I had approached those 2 couples from my own wisdom (my husband and me, and my friend and her husband) I would have had 2 and she would have had 9 as it seems like she would have been better at mothering a large brood. But that’s not the way it worked out and I trust that God has our back as each couple walks the specific journey the Lord has for us.

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