Why Have Children?

A Honeysmoke reader sent me a link to a Motherlode blog post, where a reader asked why anyone would have children. The question made me think, really think about why I wanted to have children.

My first answer: Because.

My second answer: At first, I didn’t want to have children, or so I said. Long before I went to college, I figured I would dedicate all of my time to my career. Children are expensive, a lot of hard work and so many things can go horribly wrong. Did I mention they are expensive? I was an education reporter for most of my journalism career, and I saw what could happen to children. I watched them struggle with reading, balance academics and athletics, go to college. I wrote about children taking drugs, flunking out of school, getting pregnant. Nope, I told myself many times, I don’t want to have kids.

Then Ken and I started talking about marriage. As we negotiated the deal — that’s what it felt like — I told him I wanted to leave the door open for having a child. He agreed, and I was surprised I was so interested in having a child. What was that about? For the first time, it seemed possible I could help raise a child. I could help provide for a child. I had a lot of love to give, and my parents had survived. We agreed to wait a while and then give it a try. We had no trouble. Simone hadn’t been on the Earth two weeks when I blurted out, for no particular reason, that I could “do that again.”

Raising Simone didn’t seem to be nearly as hard as I had thought, and we were emboldened. We decided to try again, and Nadia soon followed. I sometimes look at my life BK, or Before Kids, and wonder what Ken and I used to do with all of our time. We traveled, we ate out, we enjoyed ourselves. It was all so predictable.

Parenting has turned out to be everything I expected. It is expensive and a lot of hard work. I am sure something will go horribly wrong. It is also a lot of things I didn’t expect. It has been a hilarious roller coaster ride, a series of ups and downs and hidden curves. Still, I would not trade being a mother for anything.

So, what do you say? Why have children?

  • Liz

    I also never thought I would have kids when I was growing up, but a few years ago I got engaged and found myself wanting to have a family. The man turned out to be all wrong for me and I called off the wedding, but then I realized I could still have a family if I wanted to and ended up adopting. It just seemed like the right mix of a challenging and rewarding and worthwhile thing to do with however much time I have left on this planet!

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  • Good question. We were married over a decade before deciding to raise children. Our path was not easy at all but we persisted because of an intense, logic-defying, deep need to parent and build a family of our own. As we waited for our children, it felt powerfully life-affirming to say yes to the future. We knew that parenting would bring us our life’s greatest gifts, deepest love, and most interesting challenges.

  • We’d love to have kids but we’re too old. We’d do it just because we like kids. That easy.

  • @ sing. I think selfishness — if it’s really there in the first place — goes out the door as soon as you have a child. If all you have ever had to do is take care of yourself, then that’s what you do. When you have to take care of yourself plus one, two or however many, you do that.

  • I find this question to be a little hard to answer, b/c the answer seems so obvious to me: biological imperative. I used to think “Why have children when you can adopt and so many children need loving homes?” But then I met my husband and the answer became obvious. Biological imperative. I wanted to mix my genes with his and create a new being. That’s how we’re hardwired. Simple as that. I think that if others are not hardwired that way then good for them. They made a practical decision. But the rest of us are fated to make this expensive decision. I’m cool with that. I figure my daughter is worth every penny and IMO hard work only ever serves to make you better.

  • As you know, and we have talked about umpteen times, this is a question I have, too: why? I doubt I have given it that much thought if we hadn’t had to do extra stuff to have babies. My husband fears he’s too selfish to be a dad. Which is interesting because of the two of us, *I* am the selfish one. In any case, good post.

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