Monday, June 06, 2005

Raising Arizona

Back in 1987 there was a moving called Raising Arizona . It was a kind of slapstick comedy about a couple who wanted a baby so bad they stole one from a family who had quintuplet. Of course they had no idea of the tremendous baggage that baby brings along with him/her when he/she takes up residence in your life. They really wanted that baby, but in the end they came to the realization they were not mentally, physically, or emotionally equipped to raise the child so they gave him back to his parents. Considering the parents already had four more babies, it's hard to say who came away with the better deal.

I thought of that movie when I read little Elijah's story (see yesterday's post). I think over half the people who have children have no idea of what's involved in raising a child. To say there are sacrifices is the ultimate understatement.
A child can be a gift from God. You look into those beautiful eyes, you smell that sweet clean, baby smell. Those tiny little toes and fingers. So sweet and precious, as they lay sleeping in the little plastic bassinet. Your heart is filled with pride and joy. No one told you it would feel like this! Then you take them home.

For such small creatures, babies have seemingly endless needs. Food, diapers (lots of diapers) and burping. And that's just the first hour. This process must be repeated every few hours for months. Somewhere in there you have to fit in your own needs. Things like eating, sleeping, bathing, and maybe even a job. If your baby is an easily satisfied baby, you may actually get a few hours of sleep now and then. If not, you learn to sleep while rocking or walking, or sometimes even feeding (both baby and you). Chances are you won't have another good nights sleep for months, maybe even years. I know, nobody told you it would feel like this!
Then come the toddler years. Ever heard of the terrible twos? That's misleading. The twos are no worse than the threes. A toddler demands 100% attention. If not yours then someone's and usually anyone in their immediate vicinity. Their precarious little buggers. They have ways of getting into (and out of) things and places you can't begin to imagine. They are curious and want to know what the world is all about and what it's made of. They pursue this knowledge by any means available to them. Including but not limited to taking a bite out of life (or you, or any other person, place or thing within their reach). And guess what. These are the easy years. Just wait until they can go outdoors. I know, nobody told you it could feel like this.
The responsibility of raising a child is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for those who are dedicated to having a career other than being a parent. Yes, you can pawn a good part of that responsibility off on daycare, pre-school and eventually the public (or private) school system. But the bulk of the job still falls to you. If your not prepared to make every sacrifice, to be a full time parent, even while holding down a full time job. Then do yourself, the world and the child you don't yet have, a favor, and just say NO. No matter how much your parents, your inlaws, your friends or anyone else pushes, just say NO . No one but you has to raise your child.
Hillary Clinton wrote a book It Takes a Village [to raise a child]. But I'm here to tell you, most of the village isn't willing to do much helping. They've got their own lives to live and probably their own kids to raise. So my advice is don't look to grandparents, aunt, uncles, friends or neighbors. If your lucky, one or more of these people may be willing to step in and help. Just don't count on it. Children can be a blessing. But if your not prepared it can be a nightmare. And that's the cold hard truth, that nobody wants to tell you about.

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