How Selfish was That?


boy-1528150_1280-2My wife and I have no kids.

We’ve talked about it a lot, and we’re kind of on the same page (always a good thing in a marriage) and here’s what that page is – we like the idea of having kids, but have a hard time imagining how we would integrate them into our lifestyle.

The DVB e-commerce lifestyle was supposed to be very kid-friendly.  I would work from home, Kelly would get a job where she works from home, we’d be around for the hypothetical children to attend to their needs.

But it turns out that work-from-home jobs are still jobs.

In Kelly’s case, she had a boss who was very demanding of her time.  In fact, she often found herself working harder than she thinks she would have if she were actually still going to the office.

Without being able to watch how hard she works, we suspect that her boss was less respectful of her time and effort.  He would assign her tasks saying “This should take you about 20 minutes,” when anyone with half a brain would realize that it would take an hour to do right.

To meet his expectations, she would work well after hours – on salary, no less.  Being able to physically clock out, and have no expectations once you left the workplace, quickly revealed itself as a luxury, one that she wasn’t always sure she was right to trade away.

As for me … well, I expected launching a business, even one that I could run from home on my computer, would be a lot of work, possibly a little crazy-making.

But I wasn’t prepared.  Not for the mental RAM I expended; for the times it felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall; for the times I dawdled with make-work tasks instead of buckling down and going after sales; for the learning curve, where early on and with no revenue I was staying up late into the night, on the line with Shopify tech support trying to smack the bare-bones functionality of my site into place; constantly adding and updating content; learning how to use my tracking software; scouring the internet for coupons that would bring down my advertising expenses …

All the while I was building something, and the sale of the business makes it all seem worth it now.  I wasn’t always so hopeful.  It’s even possible for me now to look back on those early frustrations with rose-colored glasses.  That wasn’t always so easy.

And whenever the subject of having kids came up with Kelly, it was always the same – “Once the business takes off.  Once things settle down a little at Kelly’s work, or once she can quit work.  Once the business is more on autopilot.  Later.  Eventually.  The time isn’t right.”

This isn’t meant to be a Mike Judge fan-page, but after referencing our fellow Texas and his move “Office Space” a few blogs ago, I realize now that another movie of his applies.  Have you seen “Idiocracy?”

It’s a funny concept – a guy travels forward in time and finds the world run by idiots

How do you get to that point in history?  Judge’s rationale is a little TOO plausible – the “smart” people know how to deploy birth control and wait longer and longer to prepare for starting a family, until they squeeze themselves right out of the gene pool; while the “idiot” blue-collar and welfare class just keeps hedonistically and unthinkingly pumping out kids, until the “smart” people are vastly outnumbered.

So the idiots take over the country.  Factor in the current state of American politics, and Judge starts to sound a little too prescient.

Here’s an article about why the U.S. birth rate is declining because millennial are less likely to have kids.  Kelly and I definitely relate to several points on there.  I like the line where a millennial responds to the common notion that it is “selfish” to not want children with the scathing retort that it is selfish for such a critic to presume to tell someone what to do with their body and their life.

But a decline in birth rate isn’t showing its face in Texas, tell you what (what is it with me and Mike Judge today???)  I have a good friend who’s a double-grandmother at 39, because both of her daughters got knocked up.  I was born in Texas and went to college here, but my family lived in Boston and San Francisco at various times and I still have a lot of friends there; I have never experienced so much accidental pregnancy in my circle of friends than when I have lived in Texas.  Maybe there’s something in the water; everyone is extra fertile and reckless.

Now that we have some financial breathing room, though, Kelly and I may be out of excuses.

And what has reared its ugly head is that maybe we ARE selfish.  We can’t imagine waking up at the butt-crack of dawn to breast feed and change diapers and clean up puke.  We can’t imagine being tied down and not being able to travel and hemorrhaging the small fortune the sale of the DVB business afforded us.

In the end, though, there was no good time to strike out on our own with entrepreneurship and remote-work.  We were scared then and weren’t sure if we were ready for the changes … but we decided it was important to us, and we did it.

Maybe kids will be the same for us.

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