An argument for having children, aka, eating one’s words

@postday 101; #postaday2011

I’m listening as a young male colleague explain reasons on why not to have children. A graduate from a prestigious Ivy League school, he orates well, his logic is sound, his calm convincing. It makes me sad. What a loss for this world if this young man and his wife decide against becoming parents.

Oh how well I remember having the same discussions. From the time I was in the U.S. Air Force until I was, say, 35, I felt the same way. Never had I met anyone who triggered in me a desire to procreate. I could only see the disasters of the world, the doom of the planet, the children of family and friends, and say to myself, “NO WAY!”

But I came around. When John and I first traveled to Silver Spring, Maryland, to visit his sister Sally and her husband Joel, it was when they had first discovered she was pregnant with their first child, Emily, who I am pretty sure is 19-20. I noted that when we went to a Thai restaurant that Sally didn’t join us in having a round of Sing Ha beers. But it didn’t really hit me until we got back to Honolulu, exactly the next morning upon waking after our flight home.

“Sally’s PREGNANT!” A phone call from Silver Spring a few days later confirmed my suspicion.

I wasn’t yet convinced parenthood was the journey for us. But John made a very convincing argument. He said what’s the point in being who we are without a legacy? Why can’t two people who respect and love each cast our hope for the world and bear children? Dashed were my dreams of traveling around the world with John, on a whim, a Double-Income-No-Kids couple of jetsetters. The cooking tours, the wine tours, the follow-a-reasonable-facsimile to the Grateful Dead tours such as follow Phish around the country fizzled like a drop of water on a hot skillet.

So in my late 30s, when I tried to conceive, and lost three babies to miscarriage, my whole psyche changed. If I saw a woman glowing with pregnancy, I’d have to fight tears. If I saw babies or toddlers dragged around or ignored in shopping malls or around town, I’d question G*d’s plan for this world of ours. And I told him a lot about how I was worthy.

I didn’t successfully give birth until I was 41 to Sophie, and until I was 43, to Charlotte. I happen to know already that these children will do the world some good. Parenthood is a struggle. It is the hardest job ever. It is a job that seems to be tossed at anyone, and as we know, not every one succeeds. You have to have the stomach for more than you bargain for. You have to have an iron will, you have to admit your mistakes, you have to tell your children or your spouse you are sorry because we are all still growing up. Parenting is half winging it, with a dose of advice from family and friends.

But for a couple to completely rule out the adventure is like going through life in only one dimension. My advice? Expand your world, come to the dark side where we have cookies, dirty diapers, and where children good and bad will reveal to you astonishing nuggets of truth about yourself. It’s not easy, but it is well worth it. Fortunately, this couple has time to come around. It’s OK to have kids as late as I did, but, I wish I gotten on this roller coaster years earlier. It’s OK. Timing is divine.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.

1 comment

  1. Fear runs a lot of people.

    My 26-year-old daughter grew up well aware of how close her birth came to being fatal to both her and her mother. She’s afraid the same thing will happen to her.

    My 25-year-old son-in-law grew up in a shaky family situation – a biological father who abandoned them, a stepfather who cheats on his mother. He’s afraid he’ll make the same mistakes should they have children.

    I’m not surprised that they let their fears say “Never” to having children. I’m sad for them. But I know there’s still plenty of time for them!

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