License to Procreate


You need special credentials to drive a car, take out a book, get a credit card, but there are no prerequisites to raise a child?

I realize that high-schoolers, crackheads, homeless people, and teenage pop stars should not be having children. I am not, however, taking a stance on moral or political issues; I’ll leave that (as I always do) to Lindsay Lohan.

As a pretty normal adult, with the means to raise a child, I admittedly had no clue what I was doing with my first child. I remember leaving the hospital thinking, “He’s mine? I own him? You guys trust me to walk out that door and raise a child because I made the obligatory poop, and I demonstrated my ability to put him in a car seat?”

Isn’t it baffling that everyday people like us are allowed to procreate without first passing a test or getting some kind of license? Think about it, you need a library card to take out a five-dollar paperback, because you can’t be trusted to return it in a period long enough to read it four times over. You’re also required to pass a test to drive a car, sell a house, or be a lifeguard. You can take a class to learn how to give birth, but once that baby’s out, you’re on your own.

There wasn’t even a test at my OB’s pre-pregnancy interview. All he asked was, “Do you have insurance and are you taking folic acid?”

“Of course I’d never think about bringing life to this Earth without the recommended 3 gagillion mgs of folic acid per day … I’m also shooting heroin, but you didn’t ask me that.”

What if I don’t feed him, bathe him, or water him? I could let him swim after lunch without waiting the mandatory 30 minutes, or dress him in generic clothes from the supermarket. I could drop him off on the first day of middle school, roll down the window, and scream, “Mama loves her Snuggle Buggle!”

At the very least, there should be some kind of “Mommy Aptitude” screening. During your interview, they could call your mom. Mine would say, “Jenny always dreamed of being a mother and loved playing house. Her dolls were mostly naked, and she liked to cut their hair down to the hair transplant plug scalps. Sometimes she would detach their limbs and try to put them back in the wrong sockets, possibly to amuse herself, though I found it rather disturbing. Have I said too much? No, really, she would be wonderful. Her children would be so clean; I recall how much she liked bathing with naked Barbies.”

Doctor’s response: “Put in a 10-year IUD, give her supervised visitation with a hermit crab, and make sure someone counts the legs.”

Not only do gynecologists promote the concept of “Motherhood” to anyone donning a wedding ring, with reckless abandon, they encourage us to have more. Otherwise known as repeat business. The second my daughter arrived, my OB said, “So, when am I gonna see you back in the saddle?”

Great, a stirrup joke. “Take it easy Doc, the placenta’s not even cold yet.”

Well, a month and a half later, I ran into my OB again. Actually, I had an appointment, so it wasn’t as random as I’m making it sound. He said, “At 6 weeks you are extremely fertile, so now is the time for another romp in the stable.” I immediately went home to tell my husband the doctor said, “Now is the time I am extremely unstable, so no romps for at least 6 more weeks.”

How about a probationary period to see if you’re any good at this parenting thing? When you get a new job, they evaluate you every 6 months. They certainly don’t give you more responsibility until you’ve proven you can handle your current load, unless you work at McDonald’s.

How does my OB know how I’m gonna solve disputes? When my children are fighting over the last lollipop, who says I won’t shove them all in the closet, lock the door, and say, “Last one standing gets it”?

Well, lucky for me I’ve turned out to be an excellent mother (ask my children), regardless of not being licensed and accredited.

I could contemplate this whole non-license thing for hours, but my naked daughter just walked by with a lollipop matted in her crew cut, so I’ve gotta give her a bath.


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  1. My Half Assed Life says

    I’ve been parenting for 21 years and I’m still in shock that I was allowed to leave the hospital with a lump of unformed human waiting to be molded into a responsible adult.

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  2. Jamie@SouthMainMuse says

    I guess way back when — when families were large and many generations lived together, women learned how to take care of babies because young girls needed to help out. And there were probably a lot more babies around the household. Now we are so autonomous, live in the business world, to most women the most exposure they’ve had with an infant is when they take their baby home from the hospital.

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog at The Suburban Jungle says

      Yes, and the stint we did babysitting — when we were way to young to be babysitting for some reason mother’s trusted us. WTF were THEY thinking?

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

      Or the stints we did babysitting when we were way too young to be babysitting, but those mothers for some reason trusted us. WTF were they thinking?

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  3. Elizabeth says

    LOL, this is great. I almost snorted coffee…- ‘Doctor’s response: “Put in a 10-year IUD, give her supervised visitation with a hermit crab, and make sure someone counts the legs.”’

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  4. Mary says

    Interesting that your doctor was suggesting getting pregnant right away again. My doctor wanted to know what the birth control plan was when I went in for my six week visit. She said that the doctors there really discouraged getting pregnant for at least 18 months to give the mom’s body a chance to fully recover.

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    • Beth says

      Mine too, but I had a c-section so no babies for at least a year! we are 18 months PP and I have NO plans for a #2. Great post, I couldn’t agree more, but it is one of those ethical lines. My sister just adopted a little boy who was born at 25 weeks (!!!!!) so a mentally disabled woman. He was her third, and my sister is in the process of getting his little sister. The birth mother is off the grid which the past has shown she is probably pregnant again. She wants to keep the babies and tried to leave the hospital with my nephew three days after he was born. Did I mention he was born at 25 weeks?!

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      • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

        That is horrible and scary. You know the post was meant to poke fun at how unprepared we are, first time around, but some people really do need a license.

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    • EvalynnRose says

      Same here. My OB pushed IUD/BC pills at the first appt even though they don’t work for me. She stressed not getting pregnant right away, although I was all, “Um… don’t worry.”

      I get this whole license mindset, but I see it a little differently. I’m surprised that so many people feel this way… it kind of speaks on how comfortable we’ve become with having bureaucracies to report to on *everything.* One trip to the DPS… and I’m like… yeah… I’ll be fine. And I was. Newborns aren’t that complicated: feed, change, get some gas out, or snuggle. Not too many options. It’s the sleep deprivation that’s killer.

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  5. Jenelle says

    at the very least, we need to OFFER parenting classes. I would have taken them! Even though I helped raise 3 little sisters and countless relatives, I still felt SO unprepared as a new mommy! (And the “infant-care class” doesn’t count! What a joke!) We can’t force people not to procreate (God how I wish we could!) but we could make them sit through a parenting video before leaving the hospital at the very least!

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

      Thought it was a joke a good video couldn’t hurt. I would have watched. Maybe we could get them to send nurses home with us for a couple days. Oh, that would be lovely… I’ll start the petition!

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

      Most things take a good 20 years to figure out anyway. Look the second I learned to hook up a VCR the whole world had switched to DVD! Damn it!

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  6. Susan says

    Zomg! I so needed this laugh today! I was the model parent to my dolls when I was little (though my old barbies have a disturbing amount of marker makeup on), but flail daily with my two real babies. At least tomorrow is another day, right? ;)

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

      As I said if our baby dolls are any indicator of our future parenting I think we’re all screwed… Susan – Crayola washable markers for YOU!

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  7. Mercy says

    Why can’t there be mandatory parenting classes that begin say in high school and continue through college? Then when you get married they could continue. Even if you end up not having kids, at least you would know what to do, well, we hope you would have an idea. If the teachers were parents who (pretended) they knew what they were doing. Maybe attending mandatory childbirth classes would scare young people enough into waiting until they are older.
    I was 28 when my eldest was born, and though I had helped out with kids since I was young, and I had been a nanny and a preschool teacher, I was still scared to bring my premie newborn home. It seems there really is nothing that can prepare you for having a child yourself.

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    • Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog says

      Mercy – you couldn’t be more right. Nothing prepares you, but really why not a video? How much can it really cost to produce those grainy things with awkward lighting that they made us watch. Let’s just add one of a baby crying nonestop for the entire class… for the entire semester. I think that would help on so many levels!

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