Squawk Radio

Friday, February 17, 2006

ELOISA on Life With Children

I recently got a letter from a friend of mine who has just had his first baby. "You were right," he wrote, "life has no meaning without her. I can't imagine life before she was born."

I had to read that sentence three times. Had I really said that? It's not that I don't agree...in a kind of philosophical way. But I must have had a glass of wine in my hand, and a babysitter at home, when I voiced it.

Let me describe the current situation. My husband is away on business. Three days ago my daughter came down with a sore throat that progressed to a (mild) fever and (mild) diarrhea. All day I have been working desperately, trying to finish edits to a manuscript, while she trots back and forth from the babysitter to my desk, the better to hand me notes. Here's an exact transcript of one of them: "I em Bord!" Tomorrow would be better, right? She'll be in school. That's what I thought, until my son pounded up the stairs and disappeared into the bathroom, followed by the unmistakable sound of someone being very sick.

Can I just say that sometimes the "meaning of life" is a diluted concept? Let's start with the premise that we all adore, love and admire our children, be they animal, mineral or human. But "We can't imagine life without them"? Ha!

I can.

Anyone remember morning sex? Dozy, sleepy, roll over and make-the-day-start-out-right sex? The kind of sex that disappeared along with the patter of tiny bare feet?

How about a relaxed cup of coffee while you read the entire New York Times cover to cover (or whatever your local paper may be)? In those days, a husband or partner might wander out for muffins or bagels and cream cheese...these days, he's too busy trying to separate small people who fight with the concentrated energy of tiny bulldogs.

And finally...remember dates? DATES? Dates were when a man you didn't know very well called you up and asked you out for dinner. You got spiffed up and put perfume in various places around your body, and opened the door with a smile. You looked great. He looked...whatever. Maybe great, maybe not. Who cares? You went out to dinner, to a movie -- and there was nothing saying that you had to be home at 10 o'clock. It was all exploration, all discovery. Oh brave new world!

Of course, there are moments when morning sex, and dates, and calm coffee mornings seem overrated. Those would be the moments when someone isn't upchucking in the bathroom, or rolling around the floor pulling someone else's hair, or screaming like a banshee. Those would be the moments when the note you are handed says something quite different from "I em Bord." Moments that almost make me think that without children...I might be bored.

But before that idea gets stuck in my mind...WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT LIFE BEFORE CHILDREN? Or if you've avoided the whole procreation business, WHAT WOULD YOU LEAST LIKE TO GIVE UP IF YOUR HOUSEHOLD WAS INVADED BY SMALL, STICKY, ALBEIT LOVING, PERSONS?
Eloisa James, 7:40 PM