Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.
I never really wanted children. It was simply an instinct that I didn’t possess. Marriage was just as abstract a concept as well.
It seemed like an arrangement filled with more limitations that possibilities, an end-of-the-road decision that couples who lacked imagination stumbled into simply because their relationships had grown stagnant and boring and for some abominable reason, they believed the promise of a life-long commitment before God, Granny, Grandpa and a gaggle of like-minded people assembled for the festive event was the way to spice up something that was DOA anyway.
“Commitment,” at least in my mind, was meant for the mentally deranged and involved not a wedding ring or a DJ spinning “Ice, Ice Baby,” but instead required padded cells, strait jackets, and a steady dose of Lithium and pools of drool.
These were the ill-informed opinions that I spewed like cobra venom when the college keg party had been reduced to flat foam and all the poor, lost souls still lingering in the darkness were down to their last cigarettes.
And to think I was single into my 30s, which was about the time my life began.
Before exchanging vows, I was doing little more than treading water in the pool of adulthood. My house was a rental, my dogs were uncontrollable and my refrigerator was filled with little more than string cheese, Hot Pockets and domestic beer.
Getting married –albeit to the right woman – just might be the only truly right decision I’ve ever made. There’s a reason I call her My Lovely Wife, and it has very little to do with her looks (OK … so those don’t hurt. I am a guy after all. To say my wife’s hotness wasn’t at least a fraction of the inspiration is like people saying they bought Playboy for the articles or watched Baywatch for the dialogue.)
All Hallmark card sentiment aside, being married wasn’t nearly as terrible or terrifying as my misanthropic meanderings made it out to be.
But the jury is still out on kids. Oh, I wanted Jellybean. And I love The Diva more than I’d ever be able to spell out in elementary language and pop-culture metaphors.
The glaring difference is based on perspective. In marriage, there’s a certain joy in the day-to-day routines. The home-from-work peck on the cheek, watching a movie the only the two of you enjoy, that first quiet cup of coffee in the morning before the chaos of the day and that single bottle of beer right before bed as the day’s madness has seeped into the night.
This running theme of alcohol is totally coincidental.
But with kids, the view is difference. There’s way more to worry about and way more at stake. Raising children is filled with precious stolen moments – spontaneous laughter, revealing conversations, graduation day hugs and first steps.
And yet it’s all the second-guessing that makes being a parent so hard. It’s not the normal stuff. Heck, actually raising a kid is pretty simply. Feed ‘em. Bathe ‘em. Love ‘em. Clothe ‘em. Discipline ‘em. And foster a basic sense of structure and they’ll grow up just fine.
But then 10 years later when they’re sitting on a shrink’s couch complaining about that time they wanted you to read The Giving Tree one more time but instead left them alone to cry in the dark and all the sudden you’re the worst parent ever.
That’s what scared me then and scares me now. There are days when I can actually see The Diva standing at a fork in the road of her life – one direction she grows up to be a successful, Nobel Prize-winning scientist who on weekends volunteers at the Humane Society and donates money to homeless people. And in the other direction – sociopath.
And the same goes for Jellybean.
Somewhere out there, Jeffery Dahmer’s parents are sitting up, sipping coffee in bed and wondering out loud to each other, “Where did we go wrong?
The answer is almost as frightening as the question – only time will tell.
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org