There really is no way to prepare for a baby. Not necessarily the baby itself, but the impending change to your life once you become a parent. It’s one of the few instances in life when you may think you know, but you truly have no idea. See, even though they know, show and care about what happens to you once you have a kid, the experience of being responsible for one for the rest of your life is probably the realest shock to life possible.
In case that scared you in any way, it shouldn’t. The truth is, while parenthood is a lot of work, the reward is worth it. Kids are freakin’ adorable. Have you ever held a baby? ZOMG! Babies even give men baby fever. They smile at you and hold on to your pinky, and you feel this overwhelming sense of care and protection, even if the kid isn’t yours.
Case in point: A few months ago, I had to take my son to the hospital to get some shots. I took one of my best friends with me. I had him hold my son while he was getting his shots. The look of dread and terror on his face (my boy, not my son’s) as my child was screaming and crying because of these enormous needles piercing his skin amazed me. I’ve never seen my boy look so vulnerable. He looked like it was truly hurting him to have my son, who he was meeting for the first time, get these shots.
Babies make you care. Sure, you’re glad that you can give them back to their parents, but the more you’re around babies, the easier it feels to be around babies. The idea of them isn’t so scary.
Of course, the idea of giving up the freedom to come and go as you please and party all day and night and drink all the Jameson’s and all the mimosas can be repelling. But the fact is, as you get older and your priorities change, it becomes harder to drink all night (and wake up the next morning intact). And going out to day parties every weekend does get old.
The idea of having a little person to raise and love and hug can be romantic, especially if you have somebody you love and care about to partner with you on this journey. I have heard people say that babies and baby-sitting are birth control. And while they may delay the process, unless you’re not interested in kids at all, babies themselves tend to have the effect of making you want one of your own.
So let me tell you why you should just Netflix and chill forever and have the safest sex possible with all the people.
Day care is a motherf—ker.
Listen, babies and kids are great. Having to find somebody to watch them? That’s that bulls—t. If you’re like most people, you are not rich. You also cannot afford for one of you—assuming that there are two of you at the ready in the first place—to quit your job and stay home and watch the baby or babies until they’re old enough to speak and tell you what’s going on.
That? That’s the ideal situation. Almost nobody but the rich has the ideal situation. Most of us need our jobs and multiple incomes coming in to take care of the lives we’ve created.
So what this mean is that you’ll fall down the rabbit hole of having to locate some stranger whose entire job it is to convince you that they’re the best option available to take care of your child. Keep in mind, this person will spend more waking hours per day with your child than you will. So this new person at this new facility is going to tell you everything you need to hear, then charge you an arm and four legs for their services, which, let’s be real, you’re inclined to want to pay. The belief is that the more you pay, the better the quality of service.
Either that or you live in New York City or Washington, D.C. Since I’m the proud owner of a nearly 8-month-old son, I’ve had to do the day care waltz recently, and the prices for day care are insane. I’ve had people quote me $1,800 per month, which is more than the average mortgage in 40 states (that’s completely unverified). I’ve seen costs of $1,500 and had somebody tell me that $1,200 was cheap (it was for this area). The race for slots at high-quality and highly regarded day cares exists from day one.
At my job, the waiting list for day care is literally three years long. How do I know this? When my daughter was born, they continued to call me every year for three years to see if I wanted to stay on the waiting list (for a $75 fee). The last time they called, I informed them that my child was in school already.
We cool, B.
The financial toll is a bitch. The psychological? Oy vey. Like I said, this person is caring for your child for more hours of the day than you are. All you can do is hope and pray, especially for infants and children who can’t speak, that this person cares as much as they claim and is as diligent as they claim to be. Reading stories of children who die while in the care of their day care provider breaks my heart every time. Or seeing videos of toddler “fight clubs” orchestrated by people who run day care centers. These are people you pay to look after your child, and all you can really do is hope and pray that you lucked into the right situation with the right person or people who are doing it for the right reasons.
With my daughter, her grandmother provided her care for her first two years of life. The relief that this brought has not been forgotten one day since. The only person who loves your kid as much as you do is Grandma. But when family isn’t an option and you have to find and determine in one interview and tour whether you’ve found a long-term solution for your child’s well-being?
That’s enough to make you not want to have kids. It’s going to cost you everything and might give you a nervous breakdown.
Babies? They’re adorbs.
Day care? That s—t is for the birds.
And since you can’t have one without the other (unless you’re rich), just make sure you keep that in mind the next time you decide to test fate and your reflexes.
And don’t even get me started on education.
Panama Jackson is the co-founder and senior editor of VerySmartBrothas.com. He lives in Washington, D.C., and believes the children are our future.