I deal with kids a lot. As an older sister, a babysitter, a teacher, a volunteer youth worker… I’ve spent most of my life with babies, kiddos and teenagers.
And they’re exhausting.
When I was finishing college and about to take on my first teaching job, an experienced teacher told me to plan on sleeping about double every night. Being “on” all day- keeping kids interested and focused and entertained- is tough.
It seemed to me that having a baby around all day would be the same- only without the going home at the end. Endless silly games and songs and snacks and cartoons.
But, it’s not like that at all.
Whereas while babysitting, I would spend my entire day endlessly trying to entertain a little one, my days with Little Josh are incredibly different. I end them collapsing in my bed, completely exhausted. But not because of 8 hours of racking my brain for ways to keep him occupied.
The difference between working with other kids and hanging out with my kid is like the difference between having a house guest and living with my husband. You can enjoy spending time with them, do a lot of fun things, but you’re really spending the majority of your time taking care of them and entertaining them. With my husband, I can just relax. Watching a movie with a guest isn’t the same as when it’s just me and my husband, comfortable on the couch. In the same way, I just enjoy being with my son. We may do some of the same things that I’d do with other kids- the stories and games and songs. But there’s a level of relaxation and, as a result, a kind of enjoyment that isn’t found with others. In both situations I enjoy the “strangers”- the houseguests, the students. I have a great time! But it takes energy that I don’t need to muster when just watching my son build and destroy block towers or hanging out in my pj’s with Josh.
I’ve thought about this interesting difference a lot with a bit of concern. I want to adopt one day. Will I not feel the same about kids who aren’t my natural own? Is what I’m experiencing just a biological response to carrying Little Josh for nine months?
I’ve decided, no. Allow me to be trite and compare it to… you guessed it. My cat.
Salvador is the best cat that ever lived. But that’s not because I gave birth to Sal (gross). It’s because I chose him and decided to love him and now he’s mine. Likewise, Josh-my-husband. There’s nothing that links us beyond my choice to love him and the resulting fact that he’s mine. I think that maybe adoption will be the same. I’ll embrace whoever else joins this family with the same level of enjoyment and affection. Because, when it comes down to it, these people are mine because I choose to love them, and they’re happy to be mine.
Have you ever thought about this?