This weekend I enforced my boundaries with the kid when visiting my family. I've grown complacent with my multiple-income no-kids lifestyle. Yet I can't say that I regret that lifestyle – in fact, I revel in being a DINK most days.
I've gotten complacent about saying "No"
Most of my time is spent at work, where I so rarely need to say no. I'm surrounded by professionals that respect my boundaries, such that I often don't need to enforce them.
My manager is always keen to bring up ideas he thinks are a good fit for me, but he never actually dictates them. It's always "if you're interested" and "do you think this is a good idea?"
Likewise in my several year long marriage, I've attained the familiarity where my dearheart understands my boundaries without cues. We know when to push each other to grow our boundaries, and know how best to shelter each other from life stressors that brush up against our boundaries.
Which leaves the usual suspect for boundary-pushing: family. Most everyone knows how family can push boundaries: from members who invite themselves over at inopportune times, to nosy relatives, to overbearing parents, and so on.
In truth I've kept my familial boundaries closed, and I've limited my exposure to family since I became an adult. Marrying my dearheart changed that by suddenly more than doubling my family – now I have to contend with so much more chaos!
One such point is my sister's kid. Kids have a lot of energy, no sense of personal space, and need to have boundaries regularly reminded for them.
This weekend I was thrown into the deep end, having never been around kids before. I got to be the aunt playground, climbed on and a source of novel amusement.
At first I was hesitant to tell the kid "No," to turn them down when they offered to play ball, to tell them to stop playing with my hair, to give me a break, and so on.
Yet I watched my sister handling her kid, and saw how she constantly and firmly set boundaries. It was a good lesson and reminder that I needed. I had grown too complacent, and it was a disservice to all involved – letting a kid push a boundary without realising it develops a bad habit in them.
That said, I have a deep well of reserve and patience. It was a rare occasion when the kid found my boundaries. We had a lot of fun being silly, I enjoyed reading to them, and sitting with them on my lap. Most of all, I enjoyed being able to turn the kid back over to their parents and head home.
I have enough obligations to tend to in the form of my dearheart.
I'm glad we're a Multiple Income, No Kids household
It's no great revelation that kids demand much and consume you whole. In place of your old self they change you, and should leave a new you.
I cannot help but measure such changes parenthood would bring upon my own life. Would I be a better person, would I serve the world by raising a person?
I think not.
There are obviously benefits to not having kids. Especially as a multi-income household. Without dependants to take care of, we're in a low-overhead situation. It takes very little to maintain our standard of living, and we have lots of time to dedicate to our pursuits.
We have the brain space to dedicate to strategic thinking. Multi-tasking is great and all, but there's nothing like deep, concentrated work to get stuff done.
It's altogether too easy to let projects stall out unfinished, even before you throw in distractions like kids. Not to mention that a lot of the work I do is in the creative tech space, where interruptions can disrupt half an hour's worth of careful thought processes.
The big picture stuff is usually straightforward, but you have to be able to fit it into your head all at once to reach that point. That can come in the form of strategy such as arranging our executive household, or determining the path through education and career changes that my dearheart shall take.
The time benefits are welcome as well. Thanks to multiple streams of income and few obligations, we can take time off work to re-evaluate our approach, skill up, and sink time into projects that don't pay off immediately.
There's also something to be said for the cost of raising kids. They're expensive, and without kids in the picture our frugal discipline has left us with a pile of money instead. Which leads to one of the most succinct observations about my lifestyle that I have:
I'm glad I'm a MINK, because I can't accidentally traumatise my pile of money.