Multidaddy once said half-jokingly in his sleep-deprived state, ‘Why did we have children again?’
It is a question that has run unbidden across my mind at various times in the past 11 months. Not that I wish I hadn’t had children – on the contrary, as they have got older life with them really has got better – but it’s an interesting question. Mainly because I now realise that when Multidaddy and I discussed starting a family we were discussing the timing, rather than whether we should have children at all.
Why have children? On the face of it, it seems irrational – they take up your time, health, finances. Life as you know it changes. Pregnancy can leave lasting scars on and in the body. You are no longer able to be selfish. All your energy goes in to caring and providing for someone else. You run yourself down with the endless rounds of feeding and changing; you voluntarily sign up for sleep deprivation, possible loneliness and isolation, and certainly putting yourself last. Your career will probably suffer. Your childless friends and relatives will no longer be able to understand your priorities. You will crave adult conversation when there is none to be had.
If I’d sat down and made a list of the pros and cons of having children, I’m pretty sure the cons side would have been longer than the pros.
The pros of having children seem so intangible (assuming you’re not setting up your pension plan and old-age carers)….it’s hard to put them into words. There’s the love those children give you, the joy they express on seeing you, the way you seem to be their whole world… But amazing as that is, and it is amazing, in theory that could be gained from any sort of loving relationship.
So why do we do it? It is the desire to mould another life? Carry on our genetic line? Experience the world anew through our child’s eyes?
I haven’t totally figured it out yet, because having children was just something we did. We thought about it, planned it, but never considered not doing it.
I have the utmost respect for, and believe society should respect, those who choose to be childless. Chances are, they’ve probably given it more thought that those of us who have had children.
It’s a question to ponder.