Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why do people have kids?

pregnant with Mia
totally frightened, still totally clueless, but happy
This post is dedicated to the four friends I had the chance/time/opportunity to speak with after bible study tonight: AC, LH, SL & LA, in no particular order.

Out with Mia at 5 weeks,
feeling like champs for having survived
Why do people have kids? I have asked myself this before, once on a trip with my family in my early 20s when I was contemplating a lot of serious things.  I really wanted to know why so I asked my mom. I probably scared her half to death with that question, but she took it in stride and answered in her own way.  I also asked myself this question a few weeks after Mia was born.  At that point in time, I was having trouble finding the joy in childrearing and was seriously disillusioned as to why someone would ever want to repeat this experience.

And then, as a friend and I were discussing some of the challenges that can accompany a teething baby (sleepless nights, irritability--both for baby & mom, lack of personal time, etc.), another friend asked, "So why do you have kids?"  Her point being that this current discussion about all these unpleasant things really makes parenting look like no walk in the park and why anybody would want to proceed with it after hearing all this seems insane.

I can relate to that question, I really can.  I mean, why would you want to do something like that? Why would you want to give up your free time, your sleep, your sanity, your late nights with your friends, or spouse, maybe even a piece of your independence or your career, for little children who cannot reason or think quite as well as you can and sometimes drive you to the breaking point??

All I could tell her, was that I knew what she was thinking and I'd been there, but what I have been learning in my grand 2 years of experience is that none of this lasts forever.  I used to think after I had Mia that I was trapped. I could never leave the house again, and if I did, I would not be enjoying myself because I'd be worried that she'd need me or something horrible would happen.  I used to think I'd never be able to hang out with friends or go out, because the timing of things interrupted the baby's current sleep schedule and I needed to honor that.  Or because she needed milk from me and I had to be physically present to provide it.  All that too, did pass. I also was afraid she'd never sleep through the night, or never go to sleep without bouncing.  While her sleeping is not 100% consistent, the bouncing actually did pass.  It now honestly seems like a distant memory but it took up sooooo much of our time in her first several months.

So why am I doing this again--having a child, that is?  There are a lot of reasons, and of course it's different for everybody.  Even though parenthood is not what I had put on my schedule for the calendar year 2009, it's what God put on my schedule and it was His time.  So, fight it as we might, we rolled with it.  Some of our reasons are practical -- this would be, in our minds, good spacing/timing for another baby now that Mia is here.  Some of our reasons are emotional -- we'd love to have another baby to love.  Some of our reasons are hard to describe or adequately put into words.  Being a parent, while totally more trying than any other thing I've ever had to do in my life, has given me more a sense of purpose and direction than anything ever has in my life.  So being in this place, while I occasionally wish to be somewhere else (alone, by myself, with my own thoughts and a bathroom door that I can close), this place is where I am.

I have quoted Ecclesiastes 3 before, and right now it is my mantra.  When I struggle with Mia's behavior, or I struggle with disappointment or discontent over various things, or worry about this/that, I have to remind myself, this is only for a time.  God did not designate me to be here in this place forever.  I was only a college student for a time.  I only worked at varying places for a time.  Greg & I were only just the two of us for a (very short) time.  And now we are here and trying, sometimes failing, but nonetheless trying, to make the most of it.  Why am I doing this? Because that's where I am.

I am so nostalgic at times, and I know in the future I will actually be nostalgic for these times, even though we have our bumps in the road.  I will be nostalgic for a little girl with fluffy blonde hair who sings her own songs and tries to convince us of things we know aren't exactly true (not that she's lying, she's just trying to exert her own independence).  I will be nostalgic for a baby in my belly who I can feel flutter and move around, even when that baby is Lord Willing pulling out my hair, teething, or not eating well.  I will be nostalgic for the times when I had less wrinkles in my face and smothered coconut oil into my dry pregnant skin when I've never been able to do that before in my entire life.  I will be nostalgic, so right now, I choose to remember, and to know that this is all for a time.

Why do I have kids?  Because it's where I am.  I didn't know that it could, but it makes me a better person.  So this is what we do...and it will only be for a time.

How do you answer this question?  When you think about where you are as a parent, how do you keep pushing forward?

And now, if you want your heartstrings tugged at country-style, listen to this Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish, anyone?) song called, "It won't be like this for long":


Kacey said...

Good thoughts. Lately, I have been thinking, "What are the reasons for having a LOT of children?" There seems to be 2 main groups of people in my life: those who have 3 kids or fewer and those who have 4 kids or more. They are very different groups, families, parents. Making the choice to have many children is something I would love to do (gasp, crossing over from the 3 or fewer into the 4 or more group, maybe?! Ack!) but want to make sure it's for um, maybe the "right reasons" isn't the best phrase. Maybe, for the best reasons?

I have to remember that in the Bible, children are without exception a gift from the Lord. Period. They are blessings in any quantity. I'm still pondering things, but it helps to write it out and your post reminded me so much of my own thoughts lately. Thanks!

Ali Naomi said...

I have NO answer. I just wanted to tell you I'm really glad you posted this. I always thought I wanted to have 3-5 kids and be a young mom. But a recent pregnancy scare (I hate to call it that, but I thought I was pregnant and I was terrified) made me question everything I had previously wanted. Where I am now is, I want to be selfish. I want to have another year or more just me and my husband. I want our money to go to travelling and not a family...for now. But I want MORE for God to be refining me and I'm pretty sure he doesn't want me to be so selfish. So, I guess I'll have kids if or when God gives me kids. :)

Megan said...

Alison - I have had freakouts too (before & after Mia!) It really rattles you when it happens and I've seen it happen to many a friend as well. I say if you can, go ahead and enjoy the next year or two (or however many). You never know what's around the corner, so just live it up now however you can. Our lives aren't over because we had a kid, or are having another one, but they are different, and so we do cherish when we have little opportunities to travel or do something out of our ordinary!

Greg said...

There have been so many unexpected benefits to having our daughter. It definitely improved our young marriage (would have thought the opposite), it showed us that God is truly in control of our lives in a very real way, and going to the front of the line at airport security is a huge bonus when you're running to catch a flight. Anyway, it's true that having children requires work. Lots of work. But after getting up 5 times the night before, at the end of the work day I'm still as anxious to get home to see her as the day before. Or after having a talk for the 17th time about how hitting the wall is a bad choice knowing she will do it again doesn't make me wish we never had a kid. As Bob Andrews said it, the love you feel for your children is unlike anything else. It's not better than your spouse, just indescribably different. There are things that are hard and inconvenient (in a way) about having a little one around, but through all that hard stuff you see why God said children are a gift of the Lord.

Greg said...

By the way, I love a good Hootie song.

Aubree said...

Ugh! I. LOVE. THIS. POST! Compared to many of my close friends in high school and college, my "adult" life has been drastically different from theirs. If you asked me what I wanted to do with my life when I was five years old and compared it to when I was twenty years old, some of the career optons may have changed over the years (although not drastically), but the one thing that always remained constant was that I wanted to get married and have LOTS of kids. When Colt and I got married, I tried to push the thought that, "We could start a family right now if we wanted," out of my head because I knew the years that we spent together before children would pass quickly, and I didn't want to rush into anything. That didn't stop me from daydreaming about being a mother, and seeing Colt in that "fatherly" role, all the time. When we decided that we were ready to start a family, I was ecstatic. I went through the pregnancy in wonder of all the new changes that were taking place, not only in my body, buy our home, our conversations, etc. As it got closer to the end of my pregnancy with Cash, I was still excited, and not nervous about childbirth or caring for an infant. After all, I had been a nanny for a long time, and I have a big family so I was comfortable around babies my whole life. I went in for my 38 week appointment, and they told me I was going to be induced. This information INDUCED shear panic in me. I was ready to see the baby, but I wasn't ready to think about how much my life was going to change. It was a big reality check. The next few days/weeks were very difficult. I was so happy to have Cash in our life, but at the same time I definitely felt feelings of, "What have I gotten myself into?" After all the years I spent nannying, babysitting, changing diapers, giving bottles, etc. etc. etc. It was like nothing mattered because this was MY baby, and everything was different. I too felt like I will never leave the house again. How am I ever going to go into a store for a quick browse without the burden of a baby carrier and diaper bag? When will Colt and I have alone time? When will I be well rested again? The questions go on and on. I never expected to feel any of that because it was always what I had wanted. Thankfully after the first two weeks, those feelings had past, and I developed a new sense of normalcy. I am fully expecting to feel those feelings again, compacted with feelings of sadness for Cash not being my only baby, or guilt because I'm not spending as much time with him. The difference is, this time I know those feelings will be short lived. It will take some getting used to, but we will get used to it. Its so cliche, but the love a parent has for their child is beyond words. Completely indescribable. I tear up just looking at Cash sometimes. Colt and I both have said, we never knew it was possible to love someone like we love Cash. Of course we love each other very deeply, but its different in a weird way. I am so excited to see what having two will hold for both of our families. Love this post!

Sarah Smith said...

Yes, it is amazing how the difficult times of parenthood can feel like they will never end (like the nights of walking/shushing/patting/singing the baby to sleep, night after night). I love that parenthood challenges us; pre-kids it was easy to think I had no problems with my personality; it was so easy to keep it together. Now I get to work on my weak points EVERY DAY! Some days it feels like a trap, but then there are those amazing days when I can't imagine still sitting at a computer desk at work and missing out on so much life. Funny, I am planning a post on a similar topic in the next few weeks!

Jenn said...

I love this post so much... cried, actually while reading it. I smile when I look back and remember the "reasons" why I wanted to have a baby... ironic that all the reasons I'm thankful I am a mother now are different then those initial reasons that pushed me toward motherhood. This question of "why" is so hard for me too, because the "why" has changed drastically for me. I loved the idea of rocking, holding, dressing up, and singing to a baby. And while I ADORE all those things about motherhood, those things aren't the reasons WHY I'm thankful to be a mother. I'm thankful that this experience has brought me closer to God, closer to Mark and also closer to understanding who "I" really am. I never knew motherhood could show me my own weaknesses as plainly as it has, and in so many ways I'm thankful. I think it's God special gift to women to show us in such a powerful, unexpected way what the life of a servant truly is. I've never felt so empty yet full at the same time as I have the last four years I've spent investing in my children. It's amazing how they can empty you of so much of your energy and patience, yet fill you with such joy, satisfaction, and motivation to wake up the next morning to do even better then you did the day before. Megan, thanks for sharing this post... thankful we get to share motherhood together. Mia is SUCH a joy and I can hardly wait to meet this little brother!

Adam Malone said...

I can't really provide a good reason as to why I wanted to become a father. The primary reasons centered on "that is what you do". But as most here have alluded to, my reasons for having more children are completely different now than before.

Being a father has brought more joy to my life than I ever imagined it would. And in addition to just joy and fun it has made me a better man.

cara said...

I have enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts so much. The one thing I take away from having children is that is gives me just a SMALL glimpse of the love God has for His children, especially the love he had/has for Jesus. Being a mother has made me appreciate God's gift even more, and keeps me an awe with how much he truly loves us. I feel that if it's even remotely close to the love I have for my children than...woe! And it is, but even more. Amazed by His Love, and amazed how my heart tends to keep swelling to hold all the love for the Lord, my husband, and my two children. There are certainly TOUGH days, and sometimes I feel like a "failure" or that all I have done is correct, but you guys are absolutely right...we get up the next day ready and willing to go through it again because we love them and want them to learn to love and respect us...then to love and respect the Lord. I will continue to pray for all the Mommy's and Daddy's...

Rose said...

non-parent here so all thoughts are abstract. i've assumed that perhaps the desire to have kids is a reflection of our identity as creative beings.

Malone Mama said...

Like a few commented above, my reasons for having children have changed drastically, since actually having them. Before children, I wanted to be a mom, because I have a nurturing personality. I wanted someone who needed me to take care of them and would love me for it! I wanted children, because I wanted to hold, rock, read to, and play with babies. Little did I know how many poopy diapers, snotty noses, and sleepless nights that would also bring!
Now, I would say I want to have MORE children because they bring me joy, they teach me about love, and they show me (sometimes even tell me)how I can be more Christlike. Even though they bring me to my knees in despair sometimes I can't imagine my life without them!