These are my four little boys, ages 4, 6, 6, and 8. I was in graduate school when I gave birth to our first, the one with the gold bow tie. My husband and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Nobody we knew at the time had children – or was even married. When the nurse first handed Alex our baby, he looked confused and asked, “Can I sit down first so I don’t drop him?”
We had a picture of what having a baby would be like, but we were pretty much wrong about everything. I sometimes feel jealous of my friends who have babies now, because they seem to know so much more than we did and be so much better prepared. But, honestly, even people who are surrounded by parents and families and children and advice have no clue what they are getting into.
Becoming a parent is strangely like joining a club you never even realize existed. Nobody understands it going in, no matter how hard they try, but everybody understands exactly the same things once in. If I know you have children, I know that you have experienced what it is like to
- Get no sleep for months on end,
- Have vacation feel less relaxing than work, and
- Be willing to throw yourself in front of a bus for someone you have just met.
Nonetheless, I’m often asked to give family-related advice because I have so many children. I don’t really know what I’m doing any more than the next person, but in addition to writing about research here I will also occasionally post about my experiences with four very young (very loud, very cute, very wild) children. I’m happy to address specific topics if you have any questions. Otherwise I’ll just share whatever comes to mind. In honor of CHI2013 in Paris, my next post will be about conference travel with children.