Recently a woman from the Seattle Times wrote an article
explaining why she’s not going to have children. Much of her article is the same old drivel that the “feminists” spout about being free to choose career over children. The points she makes are so off the mark that I don’t really feel they deserve the time and effort to fully refute them. So instead I’m going through reasons I have heard for having children. Although the list could go on to eleventy-billion, I’ll stop long before that. If I miss one you’d like to add, post a comment.
1. Zero sleep for approximately 18 years (feels like eleventy-billion)… At first, you’re so enchanted with the new life you helped create and scared senseless by the threat of lethal acronyms that you check on your child every five minutes to make sure they’re still living. Then as they age, so too do the dangers increase… At this point my oldest is only nearing 5, but I’ve heard on good authority that the sleepless nights only continue. However, all those images of your little angel snuggled up tight in their (ok, ok, let’s be honest, your) bed chase away the voices in your head crying out for sleep.
2. Bodily fluids that are not your own… As a new parent, who hasn’t been surprised by that darling angel suddenly spouting like a fountain from one orifice or another? Although it may be the eleventy-billionth time of changing clothes, bed sheets, blankets, diapers, spit-up towels, curtains, carpets, mattresses, etc. that fountain of body fluids cared enough to share them with you. Then they cooed and all was forgiven.
3. Becoming a short-order cook… In the beginning of parenthood, you focus on ensuring that every bite that goes into your child’s mouth is wholesome and worthy of passing through their digestive system. Sometime around 18 months or so (at least for me), baby learns what a sophisticated palate they have. Favorite foods from yesterday are now on the whine list. As you reach for another glass of Muscato, and begin searching high and low for the same food that “Doc McStuffin’s” ate “last day”, you’re counting your blessings that baby is healthy enough to eat, drink, and whine about the service.
4. Refereeing what should be an Olympic sport: sibling rivalry… You couldn’t just leave baby by themselves; you had to provide them with a sibling (or two or six…). Now baby #1 and baby #2 have decided that neither gets enough attention from their parents, the other looks at them funny, or the other is clearly wrong about some random factoid, etc. It starts all too often with a subtle whine but can quickly escalate to flying limbs and other objects and ear-piercing shrieks. Yet, all that disharmony fades into nothingness when your babies comfort one another and help one another get into their next mischief.
5. Embarrassing turns of phrase… When baby started talking you were so proud. Then one day, in the middle of Shop-O-Rama your little one mispronounces something (my favorite is ‘bench’ coming out ‘b*tch’). At first blush you simply shush baby and continue on as if nothing happened. However, baby has other ideas. Since you obviously couldn’t hear the first pronouncement, another must be made in escalating volumes until the whole store can hear. In the meantime, you quietly, and frantically, tell baby the correct way to pronounce the word(s). Even as you burn with embarrassment, you can’t help but remember the way you felt when baby
first mispronounced “I love you”.
6. Awkward discussions… If your children are as precocious as mine, you’ve no doubt already had many discussions with them that you thought could wait until they were in college. Sometimes the questions are cute, although the answers leave you scrambling for a way to describe something complex or mature to a 3-year old. Other times, the incessant “why’s” lead you to pull out the standard, “Because God made it that way.” Over time, you are saved answering baby #2’s (3, 5, 7, or more) questions by your worldly-wise oldest child answering. Those moments leave you struggling with mirth and also wondering how the conversation took that turn.
7. Some assembly required… Perhaps it all started with the first big item your purchased for baby, maybe a crib, stroller, bouncy seat, etc. You looked at the packaging and saw “Some assembly required” and thought, “No problem. I’m great at putting things together.” Upon your return home, you gleefully get the package out and begin pulling pieces from the box. Eleven hours later you’re exhausted, but with some duct tape and baling wire, you managed to build your baby’s dream product. The rush of satisfaction you feel when baby giggles and seems extraordinarily pleased with your workmanship.
8. Teeny tiny clothes… Before baby’s arrival you were showered with gifts of tiny clothes for your bundle of joy. If you’re like me you also got a tremendous amount of hand-me-downs. After pouring over all the baby books you also received, you rush to wash all of baby’s things prior to the big day. You lovingly pack the cutest outfit for the momentous journey home from birthing center hospital. Within a month, every teeny tiny adorable clothing item has some odiferous stain on it somewhere. After wrapping baby in a mostly clean bath towel, you frantically load the washing machine and dryer with baby’s things. Just as the final load hits the spin cycle, baby leaves another odiferous stain on the towel. Opening the dryer you see that the teeny tiny baby clothes you put in there have now becme teeny tiny baby-doll clothes with stains on them. Yet you smile as your sniff the top of baby’s freshly bathed head and know it was all worth it.
9. Boundless energy… It’s 3 am and your bundle of joy prances into your room announcing that “nap time” is over. You incoherently mumble something about the sun sleeping meaning people should still be sleeping and raise the covers for baby to climb in bed. Let the wiggling commence as baby shifts, turns, and talks about trying to get comfortable. At 4 am, 5 am, 6 am, and, well, all day, your baby dances, prances, leaps, sprawls, rolls, and pounces while you prop your eyelids up with toothpicks. Finally nap time arrives, and you anticipate a respite, but get so caught up in admiring and reflecting baby’s skills you promptly sit down to blog or update your status.
10. Mind-numbingly repetitive songs and books… Well-rounded children need to appreciate music and literature, so you dutifully find some innocuous children’s songs and books. After hearing the first one, baby promptly asks for the same one again, and again, and again, ad infitum. You gently encourage baby to listen to a new one, but baby protests loudly and you relent. Sometime in the middle of the night, you begin reciting (or singing) in your sleep then your spouse rouses you none-to-gently. However, you’re immensely thankful that you chose a bible song/story so at least they’re getting the Truth straight from your mouth.
11. Dirty hands and faces and sloppy kisses… As a non-parent you always looked a children with dirty hands and faces and professed that when/if you had children you would never let them be dirty in public. When you became a parent, you packed baby wipes, several changes of clothes for you and baby, and scrupulously wiped and changed at the first sign of filth. As your child(ren) aged, you packed fewer changes of clothing and used any readily available item for wiping snotty noses, filthy hands, and ice cream faces. Then you reached a point of careless acceptance that the fountain that is your child(ren) simply cannot be stopped. You find yourself licking your fingers then wiping a smudge off baby’s cheek. As you wipe, you not-so-fondly remember your own parent doing the same to you. From your perspective now you understand and are filled with gratitude for the care you were given and are now passing on to a new generation.
There are countless more tidbits of life as a parent to relate and enjoy. Although our road is often littered with toy cars, hair bows, and crumbs none of us regrets answering God’s call to parent His creations. When we’re old and grey, hopefully we shall see our children adroitly managing the road God chose for them. It is our responsibility and joy to graciously receive the gifts He has given us and ensure they return to Him.
10 Replies to “Eleventy-Billion Reasons I’m Glad I Have Children”
This post is sweet for you, but a kick in the face for someone battling infertility. Then again, so is the post you linked to. Children are truly the most precious gifts.
Emily, you are right, children are precious gifts. You seem like you are truly hurting and I am praying for you today and for you to continue to bear your heavy cross with grace. I know that Erika had no intentions of hurting anyone in sharing her joy. She has sacrificed so much in her journey of motherhood. Erika, this post was beautiful and made me smile 🙂
Oh, Emily, I’m sorry you took my post as a kick in the face. Although I have had my 2 children, I struggled with repetitive miscarriages that almost ended my life before I was able to have them both. I am also now surgically sterile as a consequence of my hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. So while I may have an advantage over you (or others that are infertile) because I have children; I also struggle daily with the heartbreak that comes with knowing I can never have children again. Sometimes I have to hide my friends posts about pregnancy or their new babies because my heart just ca’nt take it. At least you (and others that are infertile) have a hope (no matter how small) you will have children, I know that at 29, my fertility was sacrificed to cancer treatment and prevention. There’s no hope for me to ever smell my own fresh baby again. However, for all of us, there is always the option of adoption. Once my 5 year cancerversary hits, my husband and I are likely to apply for one of the “unwanted” children that could have been aborted. This knowledge is my salvation when it comes to the need for more children. God bless you and once again I apologize for your misunderstanding of my post.
So, I read the article you linked. and it’s wonderful that you enjoy your children–they are darling! but how could points she’s making about her own personal thoughts and feelings towards her own choice to raise children *possibly* be “off the mark”?
Unless you think you know her (and how she should live her life) better than she does, which is quite frankly, insane.
Her thoughts on children are so distorted that there’s no way she actually knows what having children entails. While she knows her personal life situation, she does not know the blessing of being a parent. Instead she’s just regurgitating the same drivel that the femi-nazis have fed her. She discounts the fact that millions of women have children AND careers. She also discounts that some highly educated and motivated women quit working to become mothers and thoroughly enjoy it. Other highly educated (or not) women don’t have children only to live to regret it. Still other women, as Emily mentioned, deeply desire children (regardless of career), but are heartbroken to be unable to have any. To buy into and spout the whole, “I’m a successful woman on my own therefore I don’t want/need children” is off base. Not to mention that since this is a Catholic blog, we focus on being Faithful to God. God created us male & female, each with their own complementary roles. However, women are the ONLY ones able to carry children. Denying this biological fact is off-base. Just as relegating marital relations to a “fun passtime” with no intention of using it properly is off-base.
It saddens me that this woman and her husband (and no telling how many like them) will never truly enjoy married life and marital relations because they think they know better than our Creator. However, my post was not a critic of her thought process or personal opinion. Instead my post was about the joys of parenthood, brought to mind by her article.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. I was smiling the whole time I was reading it because I can absolutely relate to every word you wrote. Being a mother is REALLY difficult but the joy that you get in return is incomparable. They are truly a blessing. 🙂
Erika, I know it was not intentional at all! I am sorry if I came across as bitter or selfish in my comment. I struggle with this greatly and sometimes I let the hurt get the better of me. I’m sorry to hear about your struggle, but am very glad that you’re alive and open to helping a child find his or her ‘forever family’.
May I offer an idea? If you and your husband (and children!) are ready to open your homes and hearts before your cancerversary, please consider becoming foster parents. Sometimes I feel like those children get the worst circumstances and since many of them end up going back to their dysfunctional families they need all the love and support they can get, even if only for a short while. A distant relative’s children went into foster care at a very young age and I don’t even want to repeat the horrors they’ve been through.
Yes, it’s a Catholic blog, but clearly the author of the article you reference is not Catholic (most people aren’t), so it’s no surprise she isn’t considering Catholic dogma in her own feelings.
You wrote a wonderful article about the joys of parenthood, and it’s true that most women desire to raise their own children as well.. but there are also women who regret having had children and wish they had had a chance to pursue other goals in life. I’m glad you’ve found happiness in your life, it’s just a shame that you can’t enjoy it for what it is without feeling saddened (maybe threatened?) by people who are also happy, but have made different choices.
I’ve not yet met a woman who truly regrets having her children. I’ve also not yet felt threatened by a woman going against God and nature. It saddens me for the writer and those like her hat they’ll never experience the beauty of following God’s and nature’s plan for marriage. The true glory of marital relations is a mere shadowed suggestion for those who go against nature and God. The full giving of ones entire person to their spouse is one of the most profound experiences a person can enjoy. Having children is a true blessing and expression of this beauty, but not necessary to enjoy the experience fully. Mentally and physically blocking children from the marital union cheapens it beyond measure. That is why her “choice” and reiteration of society’s anti-children/contraception mentality saddens me. Her “choice” really doesn’t hurt me at all, but my heart wishes for everyone to have the joy I do in answering God’s and nature’s plan for me.
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