When I was younger, I used to like to tell people that kids ruin lives.

I did it in part to get a rise out of them (because righteous yet unfounded indignation is often amusing). But I also meant it literally: once you have kids, your life as you know it ends and a completely different one begins.

Who Does Number Two Work For?

The thing is, before you have kids, you are your number one priority. Your goal is to make yourself happy and you tend to spend most of your available resources (i.e. your time and money) in pursuit of it.

Things change drastically once you have children. You’re no longer number one, your child is. Her needs and wants set the agenda and there is no way around it.

I clearly remember the first time I figured this out (it happened years before I had a kid). One day, I was talking to a friend at work about what we do in our free time. I went on and on about all the things I enjoyed doing: writing music, watching lots of tv, going to raves, painting, working out, hanging out with friends, and so on and so forth.

He listened patiently and finally said: “I use my free time to read the paper. For about two hours every Sunday morning.”

His simple revelation shook me to the core. It dawned on me that all this poor bastard could get for himself were two measly hours per week. Everything else was taken by someone else, namely his child.

As I thought about it some more, a strong feeling of deep sadness and inevitable loss came over me. It was like seeing a hurricane far in the distance, slowly but surely unfolding on a path which leads directly to your house. You can see it coming, you know it’ll eventually destroy everything you have, but there isn’t a thing you can do about it.

Kids = Giant Time Sucks (in a good way, of course)

Yep, kids need your attention like junkies need crack flowers need the sun. They constantly want you to play with them, notice them, praise them, love them. It’s exhausting.

Yet, at the same time, you just can’t help but give them the attention they so crave. I figure that you’re driven by a combination of guilt, love, and unexpected rewards (not unlike a Stockholm Syndrome victim). The rewards are, of course, in the form of tear-jerking cuteness: an adorably mispronounced word, play acting mundane activities with hilarious results, intellectual achievements that make you swell with pride.

And then, of course, there’s the ultimate reward: an overwhelmingly sweet and disarmingly honest “I love you Daddy“. Hearing those words is surely the most precious thing a man can ever experience. And that alone is worth getting your life ruined.

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This post got 16 comments so far. Care to add yours?

  1. David C says:

    How true Alex. Great piece. dc

  2. adrian says:

    I have two sons, 4 and 6, and yes they have changed our lives… for the better. But the funny thing is that after they get past the 2/3 yr old stage you start to gain back all that time, but you are refocused on what you want to do. Both my wife and I run and bike (well she runs, I bike) and I spend time on my side projects, tech wise.

    Funny thing is that you actually become so much more aware of life with kids, and it helps focus you on what really matters, it cuts all the bs out.

    I do recommend, as a parent of two and being an only child, have more than one child. It really does help out.

    Life is good with kids, and I have become far more focused with the time I do have.

    I liked your Groking on encapsulation post, and this one as well. I too should blog about life instead of tech when I have my next free moment.

    Good post.


  3. Delce says:

    To make sure your kids don’t use up so much time and to increase their performance, you should try to minify them. My brother did that, and J (a.k.a. Jack Jonathon Francis Mark before he was minified) now takes up much less space in the house, and he is able to clean up his room much faster (reduced size means easier access to somewhat obstructed parts of the room).

    Also, he noticed that when the kids make an error and they catch it, it helps to throw an object and not just a message. That way, the kids run a lot faster and you lose less time.

  4. Irina Muchnik says:

    This is just your first parenting “realization”. You will soon realize that a parent is 1/3 detective 2/3 miracle worker!
    Quite a bit of magic is needed to find some time for other things. Your time will be limited and never “free”. Choose wisely.

  5. Bertina says:

    Ed always says we have 2 kids too many!

  6. Mo Li says:

    I love this post! I am on the way… truly understandable.

    Happy new year 🙂

  7. Patrick says:

    Great post! It is amazing how much fun Disneyland and Yo Gabba Gabba are when you have kids. Wait until she learns about Star Wars – pure heaven. Someone got a lightsaber for christmas and is loving it!

  8. Azat says:

    I may get my ass kicked her by saying this but I think its foolish to have kids… Its an ego trip for adults to have kids so they can hear the “I love you daddy” and be proud of an achievement. I cant see 1 good benefit of a child in this time and age.

    (Hi Alex, how are you. Sorry I start off with such a negative post)

    • Alex Tatiyants says:

      Hi Azat, thanks for reading the blog and thanks for not holding back. I certainly understand your point and there is probably an element of that with most new parents. But then again, isn’t almost anything humans do is driven, on some level, by ego?