The Parent Ren, Part XIV: Kids, Huh?

A little girl with a yellow hoodie looks over a valley from a rocky formation on a mountain.

If you only have a minute:

I reflect on parenting after hosting my niece and caring for my brother-in-law’s dog. I discuss the different stages of parenting, from speculating about “the child” before conception to teaching and interacting with our daughter. My wife and I have decided to only have one child due to our professional commitments, but have discussed adoption in the future.

If you have more than a minute:

My wife and I hosted my niece for the weekend. We also watched after my brother-in-law’s dog the whole week. The dog has a problem with separation anxiety, so it was a rough first night when he would wake up in the middle of the night and start barking. Little by little, I learned he was just anxious and didn’t like the dark. We live in the suburbs, in a neighborhood where the only outdoor lighting is from other homes. My in-laws live in a neighborhood with streetlights and in close proximity to other homes. So I’m sure the dog was spooked by the quiet and darkness, if such a thing can happen.

We took the girls to the park and watched them as they played. Then we all went for lunch at a local restaurant. The girls proceeded to make a mess, and our food was late. But it was still fun to see them relate and have kid conversations. After that, we went to the grocery store and bought everything we needed for an ice cream party back at the house. We had to herd the two little girls as they attempted to run around the store, grab candy and cookies, and sneak those things into the shopping cart. Then, as expected, the two of them just had to help us with the check-out process.

At the end of the adventure, my wife and I looked at each other and said, “Kids, huh?”

We started talking about children early in our relationship. We referred to the then-yet-to-be-conceived kid as “the child.” And we had many ideas on what this child would be like, and grow up to be. Later on, when we found out an actual child was on the way, “Fetus Ren” became the subject of our speculations. When she was born, “Baby Ren” took up our time like a few other things before.

I distinctly remember sitting in the baby room, trying to read her a bedtime story. But I was not able to read correctly, because we had little to no sleep in the previous day. Foggy mind from lack of sleep is a thing, and I do not recommend it. Once she got into a good sleep schedule, we were lucky to sleep more than six hours at a time. But we got lucky when she started sleeping through the night at around six months of age. Things got better after that, as far as sleeping was concerned.

Of course, the child then got mobile and started getting into trouble. So our time shifted again to keeping her safe. Then it shifted again to teaching her things. And it’s shifting again to showing her how to interact with the world. We traded one set of stressors about parenting for another, and we’ll likely do it again. All the while, we are enjoying being parents, watching this kid grow and adapt to the world around her.

For the time being, we’ve decided to only have one kid. We talked about it before, and one is more than enough because of our professional commitments. With the wife being a physician associate and me an epidemiologist, one of us will always work non-traditional hours. We have discussed adopting a child, and it is something we have discussed for the future… But not yet. We want the current child to grow up a little more.

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