Parenting is fascinating. Keep in mind that this is coming from the type of person that wasn't passionate either way about kids. Growing up I didn't think to myself, "I must be a mother." I also didn't think to myself, "No kids for me." I was kind of eh about the whole thing. I would say that I'm "eh" about too many aspects of my life, but that's a different problem.
My ambivalence toward the concept of having children mutated once I had one, and I firmly became "heck no to more kids" after my daughter was born. She was a miserable baby, and I absolutely detested staying home with her all day. She screamed 80% of the time, and the other 20% of the time she looked at the world (and me) with scorn. She didn't eat. She didn't sleep. I had never sucked so much at anything in my life, which was extremely demoralizing. There was no way I wanted a repeat, and frankly I don't need to see my genetics. If I do desire another kid for some crazy reason, I could always be a foster parent or adopt. My husband was equally traumatized by my daughter, and we are both in alignment on the whole issue.
I'd say by the age of 2, my daughter started to adjust to the world. Now she's 6, and for the most part she's delightful. But the trauma of her being 2 hours old to 2 years old was so severe that 4 years of delight do not make up for the 2 years of agony.
What has surprised me the most is that after how much I struggled those first two years, things have been smooth sailing since we got over that purely awful hump. Part of that is likely that she is a decent kid. She's not the type of kid that routinely makes stupid decisions. No, she's the kid who will watch several people do the stupid thing, and make the decision for herself if she will do it or not--most likely, she won't do it. She doesn't succumb to peer pressure. Maybe she's still too young, or maybe she lives in her own little world too much. It's hard to say.
As I've mentioned before, I wasn't coddled as a kid. Part of it is that I grew up just before the group of kids who all got trophies for showing up. Back in my school days, only a few trophies were given out, and you had to earn them. Another part of it is that my mom was not a coddler, and she made me figure things out on my own. My main goal was getting out of the house as quickly as possible, so it all hinged on having employable job skills and a good education. Probably from sixth grade on I was focused on my home exit strategy. Why was that my main goal? "It's complicated", like that vague, intriguing Facebook relationship status.
I realize that I need to coddle my daughter a little more than I was. For one, society has changed, and things my mom could get away with when parenting me (e.g., leaving me home alone at the age of eight, having me walk home almost two miles from school, etc.) simply will not fly anymore. For another, some of the things my mom did/didn't do just weren't right. BUT she did instill in me a resourcefulness and a work ethic that are reasonably high, and I want my daughter to have those attributes.
Back to my thesis: Parenting is fascinating.