20 Comments
Mar 26Liked by Blake Boles

Love this piece! Makes me think about the many conversations I’ve had with other parent-friends and how we all say it’s incredibly rewarding and exhausting, and that we would never recommend it to anyone we know.

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Mar 26Liked by Blake Boles

Yes, you read a lot. But that in of it’s self is a good thing. I do agree with you that having a solid partner is a great first step. You do not have to do parenting alone. There is a certain magic of creating a life out of the love you share together. Yes, the sappy side. It’s a powerful bond. Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat. But that’s just me.

I have a book for you. It’s not about having children. I think you’ll like it. It’s about having a happier life. It’s a small book. Not that bigger books scare you away. But one that will have the potential to help you get your life in perspective. It’s called, “The Happiness Advantage, How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life”, by Shawn Achor. But first please watch his TED talk entitled TEDXBloomington - Shawn Achor - “The Happiness Advantage: Linking Positive Brains to Performance. Trust me on this one. You’re going to like it.

Disclaimer: I don’t work as his publicity manager, but I really like the message. Also Danielle is now enrolled in the program he started at Harvard for a masters degree in positive psychology. What an incredible field of study. Do watch the ted talk.

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Mar 26Liked by Blake Boles

You're not wrong. I wouldn't trade my three for all the free time in the world, but it's surely my life's work. There are highs and lows, but the exhaustion seems to draw from its own well. Kid problems are annoying but manageable, teen problems are also annoying but more high stakes, and then they are grown and it's heart wrenching to see them struggle. So it doesn't get easier. But two nights ago, we were on a family group text on What's App....Florida, Buenos Aires, Whitefish, and North Carolina, and I have never, on my honor, laughed so hard for so long. We were all literally rolling on the floor at our own weird brand of humor. My daughters room mates checked on her because she was screaming with laughter. And it occurred to me that I've raised a little tribe of folks that are sympathetically and soulfully wired to love each other through the highs and the lows of this crazy life. Which is pretty cool. My book probably won't get written and I will die poor...having given every red cent happily to those three kids, but what the heck?! If the opportunity knocks, in a quaint European village with a woman that sings your same tune, I'd say throw caution to the wind and fall head first down the parenting pit. Or not! On another note, but somewhat similar....I think you might love to read the book that I just finished. It's called 'My Half Orange' by John Julius Reel, and he did exactly what you speak of...married a beautiful Sevilliana who danced into his heart a bit later in life and then two kids sort of magically appeared. It's self published and so good! It's also about learning Spanish. He was my daughters professor in Spain and she just loved him. Check it out! Also reading Kenneth Danford's book and loving it...thanks so much for that connection! I have a meeting with his daughter this week!

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Mar 26Liked by Blake Boles

You Speak clearly about many things I think about, thank you

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To parent or not to parent: both are good options.

Isn’t it so ironic that one can be an intensive parent of an un-conceived child. The over analyzing, worrying, trying to get it “just right” never stops, even if you think it never begins.

My first kid came when I was 21, so I didn’t have decades to over think it. Now I go on living in this other dimension, where the areas of growth are more about learning to let go, trust, and realize what I thought I knew is now wrong, than it is about perfecting my craft. While a childless person sees them as boring, I see the conundrums of child rearing as the most complicated and interesting problems that humans have faced. The relationship maneuvering, the constant development changes, the personal growth!

I feel a lot of sadness that we’ve lost the support of other allo parents in my western society that is so steeped in this nuclear family idea. Therein is where the isolation and loneliness stems, not the offspring specifically. Child rearing is not suited for only 2 caregivers.

What you’ve written is all very true and relatable. Either way, life finds a way to be fulfilling and interesting.

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Mar 26Liked by Blake Boles

You define all of this so well. The vampire analogy is great, so accurate. So is CheryI Strayed's quote on our alternate shadow lives. I also had these thoughts, and made pros and cons lists, and came out with a resolution to not have kids. I even married someone with diagnosed infertility to avoid having to make this decision, figured if a "miracle" happened and we were meant to have a kid, then the universe would make it so. And guess what? It did. Twice. I struggled so much initially as I ended up at home with them when they were young and it almost drowned me, for many of the reasons you mention. Like you, I wanted to raise them differently, combining all the best practices and parenthood tactics from around the world - so 'carpenter parent' of me - and initially when my first was little, I felt like I could kind of do that. But once they're in preschool it gets harder and harder to fight against the cultural flow that's bombarding you from upstream, and once you have another one, forget it. It's survival at its most basic, no time for ideals. My youngest is now five and goes to a public Waldorf TK program, my eldest is nine, 3rd grade at the same school, and only now do I feel like my head is starting to be above water, that I have a moment to collect myself and remember who I am apart from being their mother. The writer batting away her toddler is an accurate description, and honestly that resentment at having my former life taken away was there at times (sometimes for much of the time). But also now that I have some help in the form of full-day school, and the time and space that brings, and that they're older and easier, I realized they're turning into just the kinds of people I'd hoped any child I'd bring into the world would be. So it's funny - it's the hardest work, and you think you'll drown before it ends, and then suddenly you see signs that all of it is actually producing thoughtful, interesting humans, just like you'd hoped. I'm not sure why I'm surprised, but it's a relief. The phones, yes. You are spot on. I am running the Wait Until 8th program at their school in hopes to put off that social bombardment until they're teens at least. With other Waldorf-minded folks there, I think we have a shot. But honestly, that's one of the reasons I didn't want to have them either. I was teaching a peer harassment prevention program in 7th grade classrooms throughout Los Angeles in 2012-2015 when smartphones became the norm, and I saw what it did. That experience really led me to the homeschooling/unschooling movement, as I watched what happened to those kids and how horribly unhealthy the collision of school and smart phones was for them. 20-year-old Sean Killingsworth says it so well in his talk on his Reconnect Movement - the social ecosystem of humanity pre-2012 is gone. And it's a heavy weight to think of forcing into life someone who will have to deal with that. If I had tried to have my kids on purpose, I'd feel immensely guilty. I am grateful they came to me unbidden, like they made that choice for themselves. I hope they knew what they were doing. It's an experiment we're all living through, we'll see how it goes.

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Enjoyed this very much, Blake. And giggled in complete understanding throughout. As a reader, writer, and fellow analyzer and overthinker, there was a time when I thought about not having kids for many of the reasons you mentioned. Alas, the call to mothering was strong. Now, I'm two decades in with two of the coolest people I know and I'm still analyzing and overthinking. Ha!

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Mar 26Liked by Blake Boles

Finding a partner with a strong sense of self identity, a passion for life, a mutual love and one that fits in to your life is already no small feat but then adding in kids I have to imagine would be lightning in a bottle. I would describe Sarah and I as all of the former things but I think because we have a strong sense of who we are and what we want out of life that has kept us from wanting kids.

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I can’t argue with many of the drawbacks of parenting. As a new dad I no longer have time to myself—I long to have time to create new projects, read, and write, much less sleep. But also, while I think it is hard to support an autonomous young person in a society that doesn’t trust kids, I think I can certainly make it work, as you could, if that is the path you choose someday.

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Mar 27Liked by Blake Boles

This is a great piece, Blake. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I wasn't familiar with the term alloparent before but now it's a role I aspire to.

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Mar 28Liked by Blake Boles

I love how you overthink! This is hilarious and very well written. As the mother of three children, now 23, 24 and 26, I can honestly say it is not for the faint of heart. They have been my greatest teachers and I learned to become my authentic self through the experience. Parenting is definitely an adventure to be undertaken with a serious commitment, so I respect if you choose not to pursue it. If you find an amazing partner and decide to have children then let it unfold. It will be messy and imperfect and joyous and sad--all the things that make human life full. Listen to yourself and trust your intuition. It is more about modeling values than trying to teach them. I just wrote a book about my experiences called Parenting from the Passenger Seat--it is a harrowing and exhilarating ride. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect world. We can only responsibly do our best to be the change we want to see.

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Mar 29Liked by Blake Boles

It's certainly a tough nut to crack. As a full-time homeschooling dad of two kids who came to parenting late in life (in my forties), I guess I would just say: a) parenting tends to find you whether you planned for it or not, whether it's your kids or not, b) you don't need to fit into a conventional, or even a non-conventional, mold of parenting any more than you're conventional in any other area of your life, and c) for what it's worth, what seems like giving up parts of yourself from one perspective can actually be quite a relieving liberation from always being trapped in your own inner world. You'll evolve and grow no matter which way it goes.

If you ever want to talk about it, reach out!

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Mar 29Liked by Blake Boles

I wasn't going to have children, and then I met Tomis. I couldn't believe I found someone so aligned with my values! Definitely rocked my life! You describe all the challenges well around cultural norms that are hard to escape - even as we are raising our kid in a community built around us that is all about self directed education. I feel like we had so much built around us for support and it was still hard as f*CK and almost broke me down having a child and trying to remember who I am and have any independence (especially when he was young). You are right about it being so much on the mom - even with my amazing partner who is an incredible father and we have flexible work that allowed for him to really be there for us. Anyway. Years 0-2 were the hardest for me personally and for my marriage in that I had nothing left over for Tomis, it all went to Hux first, then work, and then exhaustion. It's gotten steadily more wonderful since then. But we are done and I'm not having any more kids!! And I totally respect those who choose not to have kids! It's brave to just realize that it's not for you and not let people pressure you into it. It's a huge life changer and a commitment for the rest of your life. What I found hard that I didn't expect was how much I love son (it's so intense, yet wonderful), but how it brought up fear and anxiety that something would happen to me (sickness, accident) and then he would grow up without me. I am past that now, but it was really tough to live with that anxiety when it was present - I think I had some post partum anxiety that I didn't expect. I couldn't travel away from him in the first two years bc I was so worried and scared. That was rough. Anyway, no matter how much I thought I was prepared (my whole life is dedicated to children! I even took so many parenting classes with the parents I serve before having a child!) I wasn't prepared or ready for some of the challenges. It's so unexplainable. I also feel like when you have children when you are younger, like in your twenties you just do the things and it's your norm. I was 34 when I had Hux and settled in my autonomous passion driven life and it was hard to lose the autonomy I had. I believe whatever you decide is the right decision, and for sure it's clear if you do go down the path of having a child, you'll have a lot of care and intention put into it.

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author

Thank you Nancy - super interesting reflections!

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Having kids is not rational. At least, not from the Western individualistic perspective, which I suppose accounts for low birth rates in those countries. I didn't want kids. Why give up your freedom in service of someone who will never be able to appreciate your sacrifices? But when I had one, I realized it was probably the best decision I'd ever made. I remember holding my newborn son in the hospital, and falling instantly, head-over-heels in love. I guess it's instinct kicking in. Not reason. You suddenly have this very important job to do. You are needed. Your life has a purpose it never had before. Yes, it's hard sometimes. Yes, you have to make many sacrifices. But it's all worth it in service to someone you love more than anything. All the doubts you had get swept away by this all-powerful force of love. Why wouldn't anyone choose, if given the opportunity, to bring more people they love into the world?

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author

Birth rates are also low in the east! This includes China and India, but most notably in Japan and South Korea.

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I have five children whom I have been homeschooling for 20+ years. Yes, I have had many challenging times but also joy. Having children is wonderful!

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Apr 1Liked by Blake Boles

I've just started your book today. I am halfway through, and I was so intrigued by your invitation at the opening. When reading, I realized you must only be a year or two older than me. At first I felt defeated. How have you written so many books when I've finished none, even though we have such similar philosophies, thoughts, and work experiences? And then I thought-- I wonder if this guy has kids? And then I ended up here and this is clearly my answer and, in my opinion, your answer. You've managed to write so much more than me because you haven't spent a decade parenting. However, if you've written books, you've already got babies, and you actually have a stronger understanding of parenting than you think. It's as all consuming a flow state as writing a book. You blink and a few years have passed, but the fruits of your efforts are tangible and wonderful. Like others, I say go for it, if the opportunity presents itself. You'll love it. In the meantime, I'm going to offer you the most pithy, eloquent, and profound statement I've ever heard about parenting: you think you understand how 1 and 1 is 2 because you understand 1. But you do not yet understand and. Thank you for your book. I'm loving it.

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