DINKs [Stay-at-Home Nerd]
Once is an aberration. Twice is a coincidence. The third time it happens, it’s a pattern. When I was a kid my mom had friends who were DINKs – that’s Dual Income No Kids for the uninitiated. I thought that was strange. Who doesn’t want kids, I thought, kids are awesome. Back then I did not fully realize that this sentiment would stick with me my whole life. I still believe kids are awesome and as my wife and I try (is there a better word?) for baby number two I can’t imagine not having any.
Apparently not only some, but a lot of my friends, can. The first time one of my friends said that he and his wife were thinking of not having kids, I gave my canned response: It’s not for everybody. Later. a married couple that we love to have dinner and go wine tasting with said that, they, too were thinking of not having kids I gave my lengthier, but still clichéd retort: Well, it is a lot of work. You’ll be more tired than you’ve ever been. You’re constantly worried. They take up a lot of your time and they sure do chip away at your retirement savings.
The third time it happened I got scared. I can’t remember what I told them actually, but I do remember what they told us. Bear in mind that these are good friends of ours, and my wife and I had been looking forward to them having kids one day so we could swap war stories. They looked at our life and wondered if they could do it, and more importantly wondered if they wanted to do it. My wife and I used to travel as much as possible. She has a good career in advertising, which is how I ended up a stay-at-home dad, but before we were married I was making significant progress on a screenwriting career with a couple of options, a couple of scripts in development and an agent. We also used to eat out at every opportunity.
Now we’ve replaced trips to Europe and Hawaii with trips to Cayucos and Orange County. I still write, but I’m not under any deadlines or outside pressures. My wife has returned to work, but her company is family-friendly and she loves the people she works with. We rarely go out for dinner during the week and lost weekends are something of the past.
But I have to be honest; I don’t miss it. Not even a little. So here is my plea to all my friends who are thinking of not having kids. You are the kind of considerate, concerned parents that kids need. While having kids certainly does change your lifestyle it doesn’t have to change you. If you like to travel, then you will still travel. The trips will just be different, shorter, closer to home, etc, but you’ll always have a traveling buddy. If you love to eat out you will learn to cook. It’s easy and you don’t need reservations. I already call my son little chef because he loves to play in the kitchen (and by play I mean empty all the lower cupboards of Tupperware) while I cook anything from chopped steak salads, to chicken paprikash, to homemade pizzas.
I don’t have an easy answer for the career part. I know I put mine on hold, but I have no doubt I’m a better more passionate writer for it because despite all the time constraints I still make the time to write – something I didn’t always used to do when it seemed like I had a ton of free time. The truth is with daycare and all that you only need to be pulling in a modest salary to make it work any way.
So that’s it. That’s my spiel. I’m not going to tell you how much we want you to have kids and I’m not going to make any misery loves company jokes. The simple truth is that being a parent changes the way you see the world. Whereas my life used to focus on looking out for myself, it now revolves around looking out for someone else. That kind of feeling can’t be equaled in any other way. You can’t find it by traveling, you can’t find it by making money, and you can’t find it by eating. You can only create it with someone you love.
featured image credit: d_oracle