Congratulations! She’s Pregnant! You’re Screwed! November 23, 2013 | 04:41 pm

Moms: This post isn’t for you. Please don’t read it. If you decide to read it and you get pissed off, please don’t tell me about it. This isn’t a conversation for you. When I’ve got something out of it which is valuable to bring outsiders into, then I’ll let you know. But I don’t right now, so I’m just talking to the guys, and you really don’t want to hear this. If you have a critique that you’d like to make, please talk to your partner about it and have him bring it in, because your partner is welcome into this conversation.

Dads: There is a small subset of you out there who are way excited about having a baby and who get all gushy about onesies and cribs and the like. If that’s you, then this post isn’t applicable to you. If your lady asks if you agree with this post, you have my permission to go ahead and claim to be one of those guys, even if you aren’t and you agree with the whole post. I get it, and I’m just a random dude on the Internet. Throw me under the bus if it helps your relationship with your baby’s mama.

LGBTQWXYZWFTBBQ Folks: Yes, my note to the moms was downright exclusivist and heteronormative. The rest of this post will be, too. If your relationship isn’t heteronormative compliant, then I have no idea if anything in this blog post has any relevance to you or not. Take what’s applicable, and file the rest under “Breeder Problems”, right beside anything starting with the prefix “Bro–”.

It is astounding to me to experience the utter neglect of dads as human beings during the whole pregnancy cycle. We’re complete accessories: we’re talked past when we’re not outright ignored, and those things which do address us are basically just the same thing women get but with more hair and a few infantile jokes about beer and sex. Oh, and lots of great tips about how to keep her comfortable and happy and to be sensitive to her needs.

But these books are worthless. When I get together with other fathers-to-be and newly minted dads, nobody is concerned about how to make their wife comfortable or how to be sensitive to her needs. We’re the generation that grew up in the world of the “Sensitive 90s Guy”. One of the books that I read called it the “Pussification Period of America”, which is blunt and crude but fitting. As Tyler Durden puts it, “We’re a generation of men raised by women.” Sensitivity, we’ve got.

Fight Club – A generation of men raised by… by the_MGTOW_database

The issue that I have—and which I keep encountering—is that I have no idea how to relate to this newborn baby stuff. I’ve got the technical aspects down, and I know that a bunch of it is going to be on-the-job-learning, but I’m talking about something deeper than that.

The reality is that I don’t care for newborns. I don’t get excited about onesies. I don’t make “Awwwww” noises when a baby burps. I could not care less about the colors for the nursery or whether we have stars or animals. The part of having a kid that I’m excited about isn’t for a few years down the line yet. This whole baby and pregnancy thing just sucks, and my happiest times during this process are when I can ignore the fact that my beautiful wife has this parasite growing in her, and ignore the fact that it’s about to rip its way through some of my favorite parts of her body and enter the world as a sleep-depriving life-vampire for somewhere between three months and a year.

And I’m not the only one. When I talk to other dads in confidence, I hear a whole lot of agreement, usually appended with some statement like, “Yeah, but we can’t let our wives know we feel this way!” (Sorry, guys. Feel free to disown me and act like you have no idea what I’m talking about. I get it.) The most messed up part of the whole situation is that the guys who feel this way often feel like they’re the only ones, and there’s something shameful and broken about us in particular, whereas all the other guys must be coping better with being new dads.

But they’re not coping better. Sure, there are a few guys out there who are super excited to be dads and to be Mama’s Little Helper the whole time. (For some reason, these guys tend to be with women who are loathe to be doing this whole “pregnancy” thing. There’s a balance in the Force.) The reality, however, is that feeling like I do is extremely common, and it won’t take a much asking around among dads-to-be for you to find that out for yourself.

Yet, despite how common it is, there’s just nobody who addresses this problem.

I’m yet to encounter a daddy book which addresses these feelings and tells you how to deal with them. Classes that aren’t explicitly for new dads will regularly refer to the class saying “You”, but they’re only ever talking to your wife: you-as-partner basically do not exist except insofar as you’re a spare and mobile pair of hands to get things for mom, and you-as-partner-as-human-being is a totally foreign concept. (When you do get some attention, it’s usually to tell you how you’re going to fail: you’re going to faint when you see blood, you won’t be able to handle your wife in pain, you’re going to be an idiot about diapers, etc., etc.)

Since books and generic classes failed, I signed up for all the classes in the area specifically for new dads (that’s two classes, BTW). In one class, I mentioned I felt this way and we had a conversation about it, but didn’t come to much of a resolution: the best we got was “Well, it’s not as bad as you think it will be once the baby comes.” In the other class, I mentioned I felt this way, there were some comments of agreement, and the instructor proceeded to acknowledge and then ignore it. (Oh, and also BTW, the good class which did address these issues is getting cancelled due to lack of funding.)

With books and classes and dad classes out, I looked on for more support. As far as I can tell, there is no such thing as a “New Dads Meet-Up”. So it’s the personal network only at this point.

Your wife, of course, will not be able to comprehend the problem at all, because she’s in an entirely different place, both in terms of the support she’s getting and the embodied experience of being pregnant. And it’s not her fault that she can’t understand, and she’s not a bad person for it: it’s just the reality of your different circumstances. But it sucks, because if you’ve got a wife who is normally a key part of your support system, she’s suddenly off the table.

So, then there’s family and friends. While family and friends are busy throwing your wife a parade for getting knocked up and gushing over her growing belly and asking her how she’s feeling to the point she’s sick of hearing the question, you’re going to be shunted entirely to the side. Those that actually listen to your concerns will genuinely say something like, “Yup. That’s how it is. Just gotta man up and get through it.” Guys who used to be wonderfully supportive will suddenly become sadistic older siblings, tormenting you with horror stories about how horrible their babies were, how they got no sleep, how they lived covered in vomit and shit, and how their relationship tanked, the sex dried up, and all their dreams and hobbies had to die.

Oh, yeah, did I not mention that? It may not seem like it when you’re planning pregnant life before conception, but you’re going to have to fight tooth and nail for any kind of free time. If you have time-consuming hobbies or big dreams, you’re going to have to take them out back behind the shed and just put them down, because there is simply not enough free time. Personally, I’ve got one thing that I’m clinging to, and it’s a struggle, but I am just barely making time for it. And, of course, my friends and family are more than happy to tell me how even that little time will be gone once the baby arrives. To hear them tell it, that baby is the Sword of Damocles for my one last side project. So, at that point, I guess I’ll just be a diaper changing service and a paycheck until the baby grows up enough to be less demanding. (Which, of course, friends and family tell you is “Never.” Sadists.)

It doesn’t help any that partners have a pretty thankless job throughout the labor and the first few months. When mothers tell birth stories, partners during labor almost never get mentioned except when A) a mother is asked directly about them, or B) the partner is being blamed for something the mother didn’t like during labor. The same is true when you hear moms talk about breastfeeding or the fourth trimester. So as much as all the books tell you as the partner that you’re vital and important and just as much a part of it as mom, clearly moms don’t see it that way…unless you’re screwing up. And the reality is that it’s legit for you to be neglected, because you’re entirely a luxury. The baby is going to be born whether you are there or not. Your wife would be able to breastfeed and raise the child even if you split. So it makes total sense for you to be left out of the story. It just makes the role especially unrewarding.

All this is true, and people wonder why I’m not more excited about having a baby, and why I seem so down through so much of this process. I have no inner motivation, no outer encouragement, and no way of relating to it as a full person. I’m just trying to get through this time and the by-all-accounts-miserable time to come.

At this point in the blog post, I’d love to make the turn to the solution. I’d love to explain how I had that experience, and then I found something that worked, and now I’m much better off. But I didn’t, and I’m not. I’ve got nothing.

I do know that burying yourself in your job is a horrible plan. If you do, being at work becomes more rewarding than being at home, which means that you will come to love being at work and loathe being at home. I tried this for a very short time as a coping mechanism and rapidly discovered how workaholics are born, because I was beginning to hate getting into the car to come home from the office, even though I love my wife like crazy and normally can’t wait to get home to see her. Hanging out with the guys or any other activities outside the home without your wife has the same kind of problem.

The best advice I’ve gotten is to try to find some, any place where you can have a sense of agency. This has reportedly worked for some guys (I’ve gotten “I had this friend who…” kinds of stories), but I haven’t gotten it to work for me. Some guys get into photographing and taping and documenting everything, living vicariously through their wife via their records, but my hands shake and I generally hate pictures and videos, so that’s no good. Some guys get into making a crib or furniture or the like, but that just wasn’t going to fly in my situation, and that’s fine, because I’ve got negative interest in craftiness: if you have any inkling that way, go for it. I picked out books that I was going to read to my baby girl (bathtime and reading and bed are going to be my schtick once we get there), but thanks to my decisive nature, I just picked the books, called it good, and was done. I tried getting into vaccines and the rest of the medical side of things, and then discovered that the “v”-word is a hugely contentious issue, right up there with religion and politics. (Thanks for wrecking that for me, Jenny McCarthy.)

So, that’s where I am at. I can take some solace that I’m not alone here—lots of guys seem to feel this way—but I’m at a loss for what we can do to make this situation suck less. So, in an act of utter desperation, I’m putting it out to the Internet. What do I do?

  • Luke V.

    So, I sat down to write this comment intending to register my agreement, because, believe me, in the (almost) three years since we found out my wife was pregnant, I’ve registered every one of these emotions. A lot.

    But then, I realized I can’t really do without a fair bit of hypocrisy, because since that time I have also:

    - Co-authored two books
    - Spoken at multiple conferences
    - Learned to play the guitar
    - Found, bought and moved in to a new house
    - Played through Skryim

    And, concurrently my wife finished her master’s thesis and applied, was accepted and started a Ph.D. program at one of the top ten schools in her field.

    So yeah. There’s been times when it simply sucked, and I pretty much hated my life for days and weeks on end. Still do, pretty often. But (at least in my case) you really learn that, more than most things in life, activities aren’t a solid or even a liquid, but a gas, and will compress or expand to fill up all available space. It’s definitely hard – really hard. But for me, it was survival. The only way I feel I’ve been able to retain my own identity beyond milquetoast husband and father is to not abandon, but embrace and extend my own hobbies and interests, even in the face of decreasing, fragmented time.

    Don’t get me wrong – family is still priority. You fit everything else in to the cracks, and make sacrifices. I went from a 9-hours-a-night sleeper to 6-7, and learned how to work in 30 minute bursts instead of relying on sinking into multiple hours of flow. You learn to communicate honestly with your partner out of sheer necessity, and you develop the emotional fortitude that can handle having all your expectations about your own self-direction and freedom being repeatedly ripped away at the last minute. You suck up financially and pay for childcare when you need it, and learn how to pop into a completely different mental space on a moment’s notice to give real time to your family when you’re with them.

    Or you find completely different ways of dealing with it. Everyone’s different. The thing that’s kept me sane, personally, I think, was that I didn’t give up *trying*, even in the face of near-constant frustration. It didn’t make me happy, per se, but it’s enough to maintain my self respect. But I know for a fact that my own father took the opposite tack, and genuinely learned to build his identity around being a father and “family man.” And I don’t know. He seems happy. Maybe other people have found other solutions.

    Oh, and yes, you don’t get credit for anything domestic (aside, hopefully, from your own SO, in the long term, who you genuinely ARE in this together with). I guess that’s the flip side of centuries of male privilege everywhere else – I haven’t really tried to do anything about it except try to learn from the experience to get some empathy for what it must feel like to be a woman in most other aspects of life.

    Anyway, that was long and rambly. Sorry. Hopefully you can find something helpful in there.

    Oh, and one last thing – you may think you won’t, but you DO actually get a morale boost when your kid is actually born and you get to see them as an actual person. And that only gets stronger the older they get. It certainly isn’t enough to offset all the angst you talk about, but it is something, and can give you something to hold on to at the worst times.

  • Chris C.

    First, you may be surprised at exactly what it’s like being the parent of a newborn. My wife and I both agree that it wasn’t nearly as bad as everybody makes it out to be. (Though we may have just got extraordinarily lucky in our son’s disposition.)

    Second, just because you haven’t heretofore enjoyed babies in general doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy _your_ baby. They’re an acquired taste, to be sure, but you’re going to get a big healthy dose of exposure, with all kinds of emotions and hormones and biological imperatives involved. Don’t be surprised if you’re the guy making goo-goo eyes at everybody else’s babies before long.

  • Robert Fischer

    This was the general consensus advice from the dad’s class that actually addressed this concern: “Your baby will be cooler than other babies, so just hang on through the suckage of pregnancy and it won’t suck as bad as you think on the other side.” Which is somewhat cold comfort, and has left me just biding my time…

  • Robert Fischer

    Thank you for this very long and thoughtful response. I really appreciate it, even if the conclusion is “This is going to be kinda miserable forever.”, it’s nice to hear some, “…but here’s how to make it slightly less miserable.”

    Part of the reason I’m so angry and frustrated is because I had the pregnancy and its surprise time-sucking sink one book offer that was out there. I’m having to fight for time to get my one side project any time at all. This long blog post got to be written only because my wife slept in longer than she was supposed to. So I’m still trying to figure out how to work the time/activities issue, and it’s not going well for me.

    I’ve just got nothing good to say about my wife being pregnant at this point. Life was much better beforehand. And nothing any of my friends are telling me gives me any hope for it being better in the near future. So it’s good to know that you’re only about three years out, and you’ve managed to make it work somehow.

  • Avdi Grimm

    I am often accused of being a robot because of my level of output. Books, podcasts, screencasts, articles, talks, blah blah blah. As many people know, I’ve done most of this while we have also been steadily punching out babies (and even before the current spate of spawning, I was a longtime stepfather). I’m very involved in this process; I’ve trained as a birthing partner, and we’ve had all of our babies at home – no hospital staff to take up slack. Also, I’ve done this stuff while holding down startup or consulting jobs; dealing with my wife’s illnesses which required me to be even more available for assorted children; dealing with financial crises; and so on and so forth. I say all this to establish a little bit of credibility for what comes next.

    For the partner, pregnancy and childbirth is a crucible. It is a test–a gauntlet, if you will–that you endure in order to come out a better, stronger person on the other end. It is not fun. It is not nice. It is not self-affirming of the special snowflake that is you.

    What it is is motherfucking bootcamp for the stupendous badass being you are about to become. Because if you want to accomplish ANYTHING during this period, you have to become better. Faster. Stronger. You have to become the kind of person who takes a screaming infant out of the hands of his exhausted wife at 3AM, walks her back and forth in a daze for three hours, and then GOES TO FUCKING WORK because that code’s not going to write itself. You will learn to sleep on your feet. You will learn to multitask. You will learn to transmute rage into compassion and determination. You will learn to EXCEED YOURSELF.

    A good father is a god to a small child: all-powerful, all-knowing, capable of anything, tireless, infinitely patient. These gods aren’t born, they are made, and that is what is happening to you, now. A child is being born, yes; but at the same time you are being remade into someone with soft hands and a tempered steel core. Someone with confidence. Someone who has been scoured clean of the petty concerns of lesser humans who have the luxury of thinking poop is gross, rather than merely amusing. Someone superhuman.

    So no. I have no words of comfort for you. There are is no time and little thanks for the birth partner. And while you WILL look back and see it all as worthwhile, that is no comfort to you now. This isn’t your time to be excited. It’s not your time to be peaceful and fulfilled. There is a storm coming, and this is your time to lean forward and show that motherfucker who’s boss.

    Good luck, and if this doesn’t convince you to ban me from commenting forever, feel free to get in touch and chat anytime.

  • Robert Fischer

    That response is awesome. And just what I needed to hear.

  • Robert Fischer

    This comment is awesome. And it’s exactly what I needed to hear.

    It’s strange that this is the role for the partner, and meanwhile the mother is supposed to get buried in love and affection and care and etc., etc., etc. Lead me into the mistaken impression that it should be the same for me. But it’s increasingly clear that if I’m going to be or do or enjoy anything in this time period, it’s going to be “despite of”, not “because of”.

  • Avdi Grimm

    Something else I meant to say–

    There’s more to look forward to than a happy wife & child. I don’t know if you run or lift or anything like that, but if you do, you know the feeling you get the moment you finish a particularly harsh workout, one where you beat your previous records. The feeling you have after weathering this period of your life is like that one, only multiplied by an aircraft carrier. And it sticks with you instead of fading away. It’s a new level of quiet, confident self-knowledge. You can’t buy that feeling, and there’s no substitute for it. Like the post-workout glow, the only way you get it is by pushing through the agony and the misery.

    So don’t just do it for them, because you have to. Do it for you.

    I edited it out of the first comment, but I find reading a little Nietzsche can help. Optionally accompanied by loud industrial music.

  • Robert Fischer

    Where’d you come up with this way of relating to your wife’s pregnancy and the consequences thereof?

    I’ve been sharing your paradigm with a few other people, and one of them were wondering where it came from.

  • Markus Silpala

    Wow. My experience of expectancy and early fatherhood was and has been quite different from what you describe. For the most part I think that makes me very fortunate; hopefully it also means I can offer you some hope you aren’t getting elsewhere.

    First the bad: I have little to offer in terms of saving your side project. I’ve always sucked at finding the time and focus for those sorts of things, and becoming a parent pretty much zeroed out the little bits I was managing. That’s at least as much a statement about me as it is about the parenting experience.

    What I can tell you is that I have not found my last four years to have sucked in much of any ways at all. To the contrary, the experience of having a newborn in my life (and my wife’s) has taught me how much I enjoy some things I never thought I would have enjoyed so much, if at all. I was never a kid person, and REALLY not a baby person beforehand. The very first diaper I ever changed was my daughter’s second diaper; her first diaper change, performed by a nurse, served as my instruction demo. After that I was on duty—and really not much bothered by it. Within hours of her birth I found myself doing (and enjoying) lots of silly things I’d never liked before, such as singing lullabies and fawning over tiny toes. There were hard aspects of the early months, but nowhere near the point where I’d say I hated my life.

    Intellectually, I was and am deeply fascinated with observing how those little brains and bodies develop. I was able to sense a personality in my daughter at a far younger age than I’d ever imagined before, and I delighted in it. Every stage of their growth brings fresh challenges and opportunities for my growth. Right now both girls are well old enough to rebel and disagree; I gamify that by seeing how well I can induce good behavior without resorting to yelling or other authoritative tactics (hint: NVC). It’s really satisfying to coach a little person from tantrum’s edge to full agreeability and playfulness just by calmly asking a few questions. Pulling it off in a public setting among other parents gets some serious looks of incredulity and/or envy. Most rewardingly, it builds a real sense of trust and understanding between me and my kids, which I hope will someday be a full-blown intellectual relationship.

    Bottom line for me: I have given up on several things for a while at least. But I’m okay with that because I see so much short- and long-term value in what I’m getting in return. I know that free time will gradually return as they age; I hang onto that thought in those times when I do feel frustration about it.

    The one part where I simply can’t relate to your story is the bit about the partner not getting any credit nor feeling appreciated. My wife, friends, family, and medical staff frequently told me what a great job I was doing. When spending time with friends or colleagues who are new mothers I also frequently hear them praise the jobs their husbands are doing or did as birthing and parenting partners. I was frankly surprised (and saddened) to hear that you don’t experience that sort of validation and partnership. Could it be a regional difference (MN vs NC)? I don’t know.

    I hope you also experience some big surprise areas of enjoyment after the little one actually arrives. Obviously every experience is different. All I can do is share my story. Good luck.

  • Avdi Grimm

    I dunno, pretty much just experience.

    In a larger sense, I take the view (espoused well by James Hillman) that we all write our narratives in reverse. You can look back and see the past as a series of arbitrary events that happened to you. Or you can tell the story of the trials and triumphs that were essential elements in making you who you are today. Both are equally valid ways of looking at the world, but I find one more empowering than the other.

  • kwixote

    Your blog post helps me remember some of my feelings back then. My immediate response is:

    1) Yup. What you say makes total sense, and is to a great degree true. I feel your pain and understand your fear.

    2) “I can’t do my book or ‘side project’!” = First World Problems. Get used to it. Most of us go through life without getting the opportunity for such because we’re too busy working or caring for old sick relatives or raising kids, etc. That’s life.

    3) Avdi is right: one of the best reasons to have kids is that you will grow: you will become someone you didn’t know you could be, someone far more capable and involved in life, someone less ego-centered and more world-aware and other-aware. You will do things you didn’t know you could do. Will this be painful? Yes. Will it be rewarding and enriching? Yes.

    4) Will the baby disrupt your life and become someone with whom you have to share your lovely wife? Yes. That is sad but true. It will mean some adjustments and some temporary dry spells when you’re both just going through the motions and trusting that your relationship is there and will be there so as to focus on keeping the baby alive and healthy. You’ll need to trust each other and love each other a lot. But it doesn’t mean the end of sex or intimacy, and can lead to a stronger relationship.

    5) There will be poop. And all sorts of bodily fluids. More than a tiny creature should rightly be able to produce. And after a week or two, you won’t mind or care at all. And the experience makes you aware of fundamental facts about human existence. One of the things I learned from having babies is how absolutely full of shit we all are. I also learned how absolutely dependent we all are on each other: how none of us would survive the first year of life if others had not helped us. I don’t think it is possible for any man who has changed diapers to have an ultra-capitalist “I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps” mentality.

    5) Having babies is not that bad. In fact, it’s kind of nice. O.K., unless said baby has something they call “colic,” in which case you are super-screwed because they do just cry and scream nonstop for months. But for the vast majority of babies, that is not the case. Certainly, both my kids were great — didn’t cry excessively, slept through the night early on, very self-regulating — so maybe my perspective is skewed, but I think from talking with other parents that they were pretty normal that way. Unless your kid is sick or colicky, it really isn’t anywhere near as bad as the horror stories make it out to be.

    6) I never had any interest in babies before we had ours. Never had even held one, so far as I remember. Found them boring, and avoided them. But my own babies… wow! That’s a completely different experience. As you and Ashley focus your attention on this little creature, you will become aware of her as a person, a person that you produced together, and you will find her vastly more interesting than any other baby or even adult human who has ever existed. At least, that’s my experience.

  • Robert Fischer

    My issue with the complaining behind your #2 was that this was not a cost-less enterprise, and so what exactly was I supposed to be happy about? I’m losing all the things that I found enriching and could be proud about, and instead I’m sitting in classes being neglected and trying to play catch-up on an ever-growing list of largely mindless and unfulfilling chores. Nobody seemed to be able to appreciate the fact that this whole season of life sucks, and I felt like I was consistently being “made wrong” for experiencing it that way, but nobody could really explain to me how exactly I was wrong. Where Avdi helped was by basically giving me permission to experience it as suckage, and as an opportunity to grow. That approach gave me a way to relate to this phase of life which worked for me.

    And your second #5 is contrary to most of the reports that I had been getting, but I’m starting to think there’s a kind of hazing done by parents upon parents-to-be, where they all conspire together and talk about how you need to get all your sleep now and you need to have all your fun now and you need to enjoy any freedom you have now, because once baby comes, you won’t have sleep nor fun nor freedom.

    I’ve heard things similar to your #6 from other people, although I’ve also heard that it can take six months or so for the rewarding feelings of being a dad to really kick in…up until that point, it’s all suck and obligation.

  • Robert Fischer

    Thanks for your response: I appreciate it. The “gamify” part of it you’re talking about is something that I’m excited for — I’m looking forward to having an actually interactive kid. But that’s over a year off at this point.

    And maybe the level of appreciation will change once the baby is actually on the scene, so the father actually has some relevance again. But, at this point in the classes and among the people I’m talking to, I’m (at best) a helper for Mom, and mostly ignored and irrelevant. It gave me a lot of appreciation for the kind of anger that fueled the women’s lib movement…I couldn’t imagine having an existence saturated in that kind of treatment.

    I do suspect that there is more than a little regional difference here, in that gender roles in NC are a lot stronger than they were in MN (even in the more rural areas), and that plays out in people being surprised that I’m actually interested and involved in my wife’s pregnancy. That is, after all, “women’s stuff”.

  • kwixote

    Robert, I hear your cri de coeur, and hell yes you have every right to the feelings you’re having. I think you’re probably right that those of us who have lived through this and moved on have forgotten how “this whole season of life sucks.” So to be clear: I spent my first 29 years of life growing and learning to be an ever-more independent and creative adult involved in relationships and activities of my own choice, but there’s something about having kids that takes away that independent adulthood. It’s almost like you regress back to when you were defined within your family, only now you’re in the parent role instead of the child, and most of your life is now defined by that. I feel that I got that “adult” life back fully when my kids were in high school. So, yeah, you have every right to feel that this arrangement sucks, because it does. Yeah, far from being cost-less, this is full of cost. And yes, it is extraordinarily difficult to maintain your own creative life or sense of personal accomplishment outside of some fairly narrow boundaries while you have kids under six years old, at least not without being a dick to your Significant Other.

    And being childless not only allows you to pursue your personal goals, ambitions and whims, it is far more lucrative. I personally have had to settle for a career status I didn’t originally plan, partly because the market in my field crashed the year before I got my PhD, but mainly because we felt it was important to have one parent who didn’t work full-time and was flexible and available to our kids. I didn’t re-enter academics full-time until they were in high school, and my opportunities are now quite limited. So I know the cost.

    My only point was that there is not only cost but benefit as well. Just as the path of parenting and family shuts off all of that good independent adult stuff, the path of childlessness shuts off all of that parenting and family stuff. Each has its costs and benefits. I just wanted to make clear that, once you are in it, it’s not as bad as it looks from the outside, and that it leads to a lot of personal growth that enriches your life.

    But none of that was meant to gainsay the suckage.

    And I think “Gainsay the suckage” should be be a band name, At least on a t-shirt.