Benjamin is five years old. He is the son of my best girl friend Meggie, and she and I have known each other since we were teens. She named her daughter, Katelyn Julie, after me, and I introduced her to Benjamin's father, so this little munchkin partially exists because of me.
|He NEVER stands still. Never, unless he's sleeping.|
|Mommy Meggie loves watching her baby play.|
I'm not a parent, and unless something really weird happens I'm not going to be one. I take a lot of pleasure in playing with other people's children, and I'm really kind of bizarrely obsessed with babies.
|I had so much fun squishing him when he was a baby.|
|And I love playing auntie with his sister. Who's now way bigger than I am. (This is when she was 10. She's 15 now.)|
I was almost a teacher. I got a degree in elementary education, but learned while getting the degree that I wasn't cut out for it. You have to love teaching to do it, because you sure as hell aren't there for the money. I love children, but I don't love teaching, and I don't think I'm particularly good at it. I also don't think I'd be able to write the same way I do now if I were a parent, with the same dedication, if my kids always had to come first. I think I'd resent giving up my time, even though I would want to at the same time. I don't think I'd be good at balancing the parenting life with the writing life, even though I know quite a few people who manage to do it.
|And that's one of the reasons I love these little poops so much.|
I get to borrow my friend's kids and enjoy the hell out of playing with them, loving them, watching them grow up into oddly mature beings, but I don't have to deal with the day-to-day issues of parenting anyone. Some would of course say that this is in no way a win/win situation because I don't get the joys of parenting either. To that I say, of course I don't! There is no way I could say my experience with Meggie's kids has let me have all the perks of kidlets without the sacrifices--especially since sometimes the sacrifices enhance the enjoyment in a way. But I've made the choices I think are the best match with my inclinations, my desired lifestyle, and the health of my own babies--namely, my books.
|You see this little bugger getting in the pool?|
Ben screamed about wanting to get in the pool. Mommy Meggie said no, we're not going in the pool. But then he got very sandy, and we decided to try to wash his feet off with the shower attached to the pool. Naturally, Ben decided that meant he was going in the pool. Meggie just sighed and said he could go in and get his feet wet, but not to get his clothes wet. A few minutes later he was paddling around in his clothes, completely soaked. So much for "don't get your clothes wet."
In that way I think parenting is a lot like writing. These little weirdos may have come out of you, but they don't really listen, and they have agency, and they aren't really "yours" anymore even though you continue to take care of them and nurture them. To tell you the truth I think there are a lot of parallels between having kids and writing books. I've got to say, though, that I don't think I could personally do both at the same time--not effectively, and not with the way my personality works. If I were a parent, the child would come first. Always. Because the child will suffer if you don't pay attention to them, while your writing won't notice. (You will, though. And your writing might suffer as a result, sure, but IT won't know it.) Since I have a choice and I don't HAVE to balance these two super important things, I am grateful that I still get the perks of being around these great kids sometimes because of my friends who are parents, and that I still mostly get to devote my "parenting" time to the care and feeding of my characters.
|But man, aren't kids great? ^___^|