Recently I have read about an amazing book called “40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children” by Corinne Maier. It was mentioned at length in an article which described a modern trend. There seem to be more and more people, especially working women, who either do not wish to have kids or who regret the decision to have a child. There are quotes from many women who talk of how they planned and expected to feel happy but then they got post-parturition depression. They discuss the feeling of being cooped up, of their life kind of stopping, turning into an endless drudgery. Those who could not or would not plan see themselves almost as victims of circumstances. Now they are saddled with a tiny creature; gone at are the merry party days. Also children are expensive, babies yell at night, teenagers are not even human and in general it’s impossible to cope.
True, all of it. And so false. I believe that any woman should be able to choose what she wants. Any couple can decide whether they want to have children or not. There is no right or wrong about it. When anybody spends a lot of time justifying their decision though I get that familiar feeling, “The lady doth protest too much”. It is nobody’s business why you follow this or that course in life (if you stay within the law). Naturally if everybody decides NOT to have children the scientists will have to come up with some other way of procreation or humankind will cease to exist. Parthenogenesis, anyone?
Being accustomed to thinking and now scattering my Gems of Wisdom around the internet I can’t seem to take this whole topic out of my head, so I tried to come up with some reasons FOR having children. Like one of those exercises where you take some silly topic like “Let’s Abolish Breakfast” and write PRO and CONTRA in two columns.
I think children are a great responsibility. Sadly, not all the parents in the world realize or even think that. Raising a child is a lot of work. A working mother has to arrange her whole life, her schedule anew. We worked in shifts with my husband while he kids were young. I understand that this was possible due to our jobs – as a university teacher I was more flexible and could arrange my day around our kids. If humanity ever gives each woman the real freedom, that is allow her to have a flexible schedule if she needs it, plus a decent salary, a lot of the pressure will ease. I don’t believe we’ll see it any time soon though.
Yes, children are not cheap if you wish them to have a normal life or a better life than you are having. Baby-sitters are expensive, nursery schools fees are sometimes comparable to a good college. But you knew all that when you decided to have a child.
The first few months are indeed rather hard. Lack of sleep, no marital life, exhaustion. And yet every day brings something new. Before you know it the baby starts recognizing you. They give you a toothless smile of pure joy just because it’s you, and they don’t care how you look. Think about it: a little human being is happy to see and hear you. Then there appears some logic in their movements, they try to turn, they grab your fingers with those tiny hands. Sure you are always very busy and pressed for time, but when you go to a playground you see lots of other parents who are in the same boat. You can talk, socialize, share your concerns. Remember Dr. Spock’s advice: if you don’t have a babysitter just take your baby with you. Yep, pick up and go. Enjoy the blissful time when they can’t yet walk and talk! In a way they are still a part of you. Look at the. And marvel: this unique little human is totally your creation. Nobody else could produce such a baby but you and your partner, your genes combined. In a way once you have a baby you become immortal.
Before you know it they re grown and flown. Surprise! There is life after kids even when gasp, you are over forty, or even over fifty. If you have a good relationship with your children, you’ll always have something new in your life. Some younger faces, some astonishing news, some new heartache and joy. Your children do not forget you when they become adults. With luck you will have a life-long friendship, companionship, communication. And of course remember the eternal Rule #1: “Mom is the boss.” Just think about it: with your kids you are ALWAYS right. Sure, as they grow older they have their own opinions about everyone. But if you brought them up well they wouldn’t ever tell you about it, they will just listen and then do what they think is right. The trick is not to get all het up about little things. You had your say, now take a grip on yourself and let them bump their own heads against life. Of course you know better, but you cannot live their life for them.
Back to the reasons, then. Maybe just one reason is enough. When people decide not to have children they may save a lot of money and sleep better. But they are denying themselves something very important. When one becomes a parent one learns the totally new encompassing incomparable kind of Love.