Dear Ms. Mix & Bitch,
First off, hope you’re on the mend and feeling better. Being sick sure is a pain in the ass (har har).
Anyway, the reason why I’m writing you is because my girlfriend and I are at a crossroads. We’ve been together for just over a year, I’m 42-years-old with three kids from a previous marriage. She’s 38-years-old and was married once before, but no kids. We’re serious about each other and talk about moving into together, getting married, the whole deal. She’s waiting for me to give the final “ok” but I hesitate for one reason: she really wants a child with me and I’m just not sure I’m up to having another one. I’m not totally against it, but I’m not jumping up and down, dying to knock her up tomorrow either.
Don’t get me wrong…I love my kids. They’re 10, 8, and 5 years old now. But I firmly believe having kids killed a lot of the romance between my ex and I. It didn’t kill the marriage, but it didn’t help either. Now I’m finally out of that time when they were all babies, and as much as I hate having to see them just every other weekend, I really enjoy the stage we’re all at now. I can’t imagine going through late night feedings and diaper changes again. But I love my girlfriend very much. She’s what I’ve been waiting for all my life. And this may be a deal-breaker for her.
She knows I have some hesitation, but she doesn’t know how deep my hesistation goes. Maybe I can convince myself otherwise, but then I think I’m just kidding myself. Your thoughts?
Signed, Confused in CT
Whoa, there’s a lot going on here, so let me try to answer you layer-by-layer.
Layer #1: Compromise?
It’s excellent that you are working so hard to clarify what you are and are not willing to compromise on for yourself. Especially regarding bringing a child into the world. Because if this child is not wanted by you, s/he will feel it…and that pretty much guarantees another fucked up person wandering this world for a while.
However, I think it’s crucial to distinguish if your hesistation is truly based on your reluctance to change diapers or something deeper, which leads to:
Layer #2: Clarification
Perhaps your reluctance to have another child has less to do with the whole baby routine and more about your fear of damaging your relationship with your girlfriend. I think it’s one of the most unspoken issues in child rearing: the significant toll raising a child takes on a couple. Everyone is quick to talk about the magic moments of having a child – and they’re true! – but there are genuinely brutal moments as well. I don’t have to tell you that, right? Take some time to discern where exactly your reluctance stems from…because if it’s more about the fear of killing your relationship versus about having a baby, then you two have somewhere to go.
Layer #3: Communication
You have to talk to her about everything going on here for you. Because I firmly believe that getting these thoughts outside yourself really helps lessen their power over you. Expect her to have her reactions – don’t be afraid of that. Sometimes it has to get a little messy in order for matters to get cleaned up between two people.
Also remember this: you are not the same man you were when you first had babies. You know more now – certainly more than your girlfriend does on this subject – and perhaps knowing more helps you make a decision either way. There’s a difference between compromise and bullying someone…just as you don’t want her to cajole you into having a baby you may not want, also be sensitive not to try to convince her that having a baby is a bad idea. She’s entitled to the dream you’ve already had three times.
May I also suggest a couple of books on this subject? The first is, “New Parents Are People, Too: 8 Secrets to Surviving Parenthood as Individuals and as a Couple.” and another good one is “Babyproofing Your Marriage: How to Laugh More, Argue Less, and Communicate Better as Your Family Grows.” Read these, talk to your woman…and after all that you still don’t want anymore children (which is your right) then show her the love and respect she deserves and let her go.
My guess is you two are going to work this out – and find being older, smarter, and more self aware will not only prepare you for parenhood again – but will actually make you a better husband this time around. Good luck!
10. “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” [Jimmy Buffett] Boats, Beaches, Bars, and Ballads.
9. “A Question Mark,” [Elliott Smith] XO.
8. “Accidental Babies,” [Damien Rice] 9.
7. “Girl Can’t Help It,” [Journey] Journey’s Greatest Hits.
6. “Live in a Hiding Place,” [Idlewild] The Remote Part.
5. “Love & Communication,” [Cat Power] The Greatest.
4. “Carry On Wayward Son,” [Kansas] The Best of Kansas.
3. “Sexy Mama,” [Laura Nyro] Smile.
2. “Us,” [Stephen Malkmus] Pig Lib.
1. “My Mom,” [Kimya Dawson] My Mom/Underground.