March Break has ended and so I finally have the place to myself (well, except for my sister's dog we're looking after while she goes off for a week of skiing in Whistler with her husband - sigh).
It's been a very long time since I've been able to go on a week-long holiday with just my wife for something as luxurious and satisfying as a ski holiday - because I don't have the time or money to do that. Why? 3 Reasons. All of them children. They are very expensive propositions, children. In both time and money. They have activities which cost money and eat up a lot of my time to get them to. They need stuff which they either outgrow, break or lose. They get sick or injured and need braces or orthotics.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, "I'm blessed etc."
I'm not sure I buy all that "Your life would be so empty without them" stuff you hear. I think if I never had kids, I would have been OK. Not the person I am now, for sure, and I would have missed out on lots of wonderful things, but still, you know, I think I probably could have had a fine life without them. And I'd have experienced different wonderful things. Parents aren't supposed to admit this but surely I can't be the only one.
I love my kids and I'd be utterly destroyed if something were to ever happen to them, to the point that I don't know how I'd function. But it's more of a 'what if' scenario that plays out in my mind on a regular basis.
What if I made completely different choices throughout life - not just one or two - but completely? No kids. No house. No wife. Totally different career path. Maybe that life could have been amazing. But while I still have choices to make for the time I have allotted to me, and am making different choices than I would have made in the past, some things are closed off and can never happen. And I am OK with that (pretty much... OK maybe not... but I accept that... grudgingly).
So, back to March Break and our staycation (which is a synonym for 'no vacation'). It was low-key and good for us all to reconnect and do family things, like play board games, watch videos, go to a Marlies game etc. It was during this time when my kids invited me to play the Game of Life with them. I think I played this game once before on a New Year's Eve when I was about 12. And to be honest, it never really interested me. Seemed like it was pretty boring actually. However, this time I was interested in playing - a lot. And I was determined to make completely different choices than I did in real life. Among them - no kids.
Since I didn't announce my plan, my wife and boys were a bit taken aback at the vehemence with which I told them I would not be having kids and I proceeded to become a fireman out of highschool, later upgrading to a veterinarian. I refused to buy a house and attempted to pursue a selfish and hedonistic life. The game is unlike real life in many ways (there are no really bad things that happen in the game and overall it is a little too sunny for me, of course it is a kids' game, still...) but in one respect it is the same - despite my best efforts, I got married and had a kid. Sigh.
My youngest (the 8 year old), however, was having a great run. He was making over 100K a year out of highschool, he was a SPY, he owned two vacation homes and a bunch of other cool stuff but he was getting increasingly upset - because he didn't have any babies. He literally had tears in his eyes. He was offering to buy kids off of my wife and other son (each of whom had over 4 kids). Eventually, he got one kid but was extremely dissatisfied with that result. Only one?! Even last night at dinner he was commenting on how lucky my other son was who had 7 kids.
So, I'm not sure what the takeaway from this story is except that maybe my kids believing having a family of their own is a mark of success and value, maybe my choice wasn't so bad? If they think that much of family maybe I'm doing OK, after all? It touched me anyway and cheered me up about my choices in real life.
I still wouldn't have minded one of the vacation homes though.