If you follow this blog you already know that my husband, Francesco, and I are talking about having children. For those of you that don’t come here often, it scares the holy shit out of me. Like every couple thinking about having children we have a lot to think about. Like any multicultural family, we have some additional things to consider as well. Here’s my list of things that I’ve been considering/worrying about. Not in the order of importance. Actually the opposite of that. I really just like to delay the not amusing things because I avoid my problems.
*Talking about raising kids in Italy really makes some expats crazy pissed because they think that Italy is flawless and maybe it is perfect to them. I get it, people want to defend their decision to raise their kids in the US. But just a warning, if anyone is a dick I’ll change their comments to say something about how they can’t stop eating cat turds or something equally as hilarious to me.
1. My vagina. Goddamnit I like her. But, I did call around to all of my married male friends with children to ask about their wives vaginas and they all said, “Dude, it’s totally the same.” And I was like, “Okay but define the same.” And one friend screamed, “You are fucking crazy! The same means the same! As in it’s the same size and looks the same as before. You need therapy. Er, more therapy. Stop worrying about your vagina!” So that’s the blessing and the curse of having mostly male friends. They can fill you in about their wives vaginas but then they get an attitude when you ask them if they took measurements. This is the problem with testosterone. They hate measuring things.
2. My ass. I’m basically built like a Baboon. Any weight gain goes directly to my ass and saddlebags. My boobs never grow. I don’t gain weight all over like those lucky women who are like, “Oh, I gained 20 pounds,” and you can’t even tell because the fat kind of goes everywhere, even to their earlobes and elbows. If I gain 1 pound my ass becomes dangerous when I make sharp turns. Size isn’t important but the thought of having to buy all knew pants sounds really hard. Trying on pants is actually work and it makes people sleepy. At least it makes me sleepy. And dressing rooms have terrible lighting. What’s up with that?
. Wine. Don’t get all judgy, if you’re one of those “normal” people who aren’t a borderline alcoholic. How am I going to go an entire year (or more) without drinking wine!? How do women do this? Please, I need to know.
4. Where will we raise our kids. Italy or the US? It might sound like an easy decision, I know a lot of people who are screaming, “Italy! The culture! So relaxing! Oh my God you idiot, there is no question!” Italy is lovely, there’s no denying that but she has her flaws just like the US has flaws. Every place is flawed. So which place is less flawed in the areas that matter to me. A pros and cons list? Shall we? If you have anything to add please leave it in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you guys think.
- Italy is pretty. I’m a visual person and I prefer the way that cities like Florence look. It’s just visually inspiring. What a pretty place to grow up!
- Children study a lot of things in the free education system that is comparable to private schools in the US like Latin but it’s free. Free is nice.
- Our kids would be really good at soccer.
- The crime rate isn’t outrageous. Probably no school shootings. Although it’s becoming more common for young boys to murder their young girlfriends in fits of jealousy in Italy so…hmmm. No, I still think Italy is safer. As long as our daughter doesn’t date a psycho.
- People love kids in Italy. It’s easy to do adult things with the kids around because people aren’t insane about overly protecting kids from people smoking and drinking and adult conversation.
- Kids can go into bars. This is both a pro and a con maybe.
- The lifestyle can be more relaxed but this isn’t necessarily true. Many factors influence stress levels (money, etc).
- Great food (although the mafia is destroying the environment and produce is becoming increasingly toxic).
- Sexism. While gender equality needs to be improved in the US too, the mentality towards women in Italy irritates the shit out of me. Yes, it varies depending on region, and is the worst in the south in some regards (which is where our kids will spend a lot of their time). The media is terrible, more or less depicting women in only two archetypes: The whore or the saint. I know more than one couple who have left Italy with their daughters to avoid the specific kind of sexism that exists in Italy. This is a big one for me if I have a daughter. Actually, it’s also big for my sons too. If my son came home from school with the idea that he gets special treatment because of his penis I might smother him. With kisses. And then ground him for life. Also, violence against women is really, really bad in Italy. That worries me.
- Religion. My in-laws are extremely religious so our kids will be exposed to a lot of ideas that I don’t necessarily agree with like that God pushes down little girls who lie. Yeah, that’s a thing in our family. True story. Holy shit. Our kids will not be Catholic and Francesco worries that they’ll be outcasts because of this. I actually don’t think it will matter to peers but he seems to think it will make our kids feel left out. That makes me sad.
- I don’t have any kind of baby support network in Italy. Most of my friends have left the country for economic reasons. I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving my children with my in-laws because of the “Jesus will punch you,” thing, but also because we disagree on parenting styles. They’re extremely authoritative, and they don’t have enough respect for our differences for me to trust them.
- Economy. The economy in Italy doesn’t seem like it will have pulled together anytime soon. Even when it’s at it’s best the job opportunities aren’t that vast, and companies underpay their people so much I can’t even wrap my head around it. An engineer with a Phd basically makes the same as a McDonalds employee in the US. Yeah, true story.
- Our kids wouldn’t be spoiled and doted on. I hope that wouldn’t make them feel unloved since most of their peers would come from homes where they’re constantly fretted over. Also, I feel like people would find my, “You’re arms aren’t broken, do it yourself,” mentality abusive.
- You can make $$$ what you’re actually worth which is nice. Then you can save money, take vacations, and live without being on a constant budget.
- I have a strong support network in at least a few states.
- The OBGYN’s are better or at least they give off the impression of being better. I’ve been to a gyno in Florence and that was fucking terrifying. I would not let them guide a baby out of my guts.
- Everyone we know is fairly progressive so our kids would have a great network of other progressive friends to play with. We wouldn’t have to worry too much about any intense religious ideas or about a “young girls place in the world,” or pressure for our son to be “manly,” via my in-laws. In other words, I feel like our kids would fit in more in the US.
- Mexican food. Well, diversity in general. I like the idea of our kids growing up in a diverse place where everyone is different. There isn’t just ONE acceptable way to be which can breed bigotry, nationalism, and elitism.
- This could also be listed as a negative but the US really pushes ambition and there really is a “can-do,” attitude that doesn’t exist in Italy because the people’s hopes and optimism is trampled by the shitty government and limited opportunities. I love the “dream big,” thing in the US. In Italy I’ve talked with some pretty damn cynical twelve year olds.
- You’ve got the money but not necessarily the time to enjoy it. It’s the country to make money, not to necessarily relax and enjoy life (with the exception of a few cities and states).
- Crime. A lot of places in the US are extremely violent. It has a high rate of violent crimes. So, so many psychos in the US.
- Protestant work ethic. I love the ambition but don’t like the pressure to perform that comes along with it.
- Frat kid culture (yes, it’s a small number of young people it’s so weird).
- Sugar in pretty much everything. They probably add sugar to sugar.
- Education is expensive if you want the best the US offers. Although, in the US they focus a lot on application which they don’t do as well in Italy. Italy is a lot of memorization and theory. They don’t teach the kids how to apply things in life. Kids leave school with less real-life skills, according to all of our Italian friends.
- The selfish, individualistic mentality can breed some pretty sociopathic, entitled assholes.
So that’s my pros and cons list at this moment. I’m sure that list will change, grow, or shrink as the weeks go on. If you want to weigh in on this I’d love to hear it.
5. The last thing I’m worried about is actually the most important. Will I be a good mom? Will I be selfish? Will I have the energy to keep up with them? Will I be able to care enough but not too much in all the right areas? Will I still love them if they grow up to be a libertarian? (Just kidding, my sister is a libertarian and I still love her).
I’m close to my parents but for the most part I kind of raised myself in a lot of ways (which is probably explaining a lot right now…right?). My parents were young and made typical mistakes that teenagers make but those “typical,” mistakes heavily impacted me in both good ways and bad. It’s always been important to me, if I ever were going to have kids, to be ready. But I’m aware that there is never a right time and nobody ever feels totally ready. And who would be? I mean, it’s kind of a big deal and totally weird (have you ever seen a zygote? Evil seamonkey!).
In the meantime, I’m watching everyone around me trying to learn from their mistakes, or from the things they’re doing right. I’m analyzing, googling, and terrifying my husband with statistics and videos of child birth. Naturally. The whole thing is scary and I can’t believe that people just have kids. HOW DO YOU DO IT!? I need your secret.
I’m trying not to sound too crazy. I’m just trying to be logical. Weighing pros and cons and trying to write it out instead of being anxious while Francesco and I try to make some decisions. Lists are always helpful. Who doesn’t love a good list?
Go ahead and put your thoughts in the comments below.