Why We Have Children

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In the last three years, I’ve often pondered how we as a species, continue to populate the planet. Parenting is not easy and statistics show that affluent families are having fewer children, or waiting to have them much later than their parents did, while lower income families (often single parent ones) are having the same numbers or more children as in the past, and at a relatively early age.

When you consider the cost of raising children, one wonders how we do it. Those who can conceivably afford to get help, have elected to forego children. As I often do, I again come back to blame the dual income family. This lack of children among the affluent almost always coincides with a dual income household. The really interesting thing is that I can watch this little mystery unfold in my very home.

My wife comes from a very large family of 7 children. Dad always worked and mom was always there for the kids. My wife always felt that she wanted lots of children; in fact we used to have mini-arguments about how many we would have. I wanted 2, she 4. Nearly eight years into our marriage and two boys later, my wife recently turned to me and declared, “If I say I want more children, shoot me.”

My my…curiouser and curiouser.

The question is then, “What changed?” Had my wife never become successful in her career, would she be happy as a stay at home mom? As it is, weekends wear us out watching just two kids, much less staying home and watching them for a whole week. I find it interesting that this whole “nurture” thing we’ve grown up expecting women to feel towards their children is all but a thing of the past.

The point being, that raising children is not easy. We thought we dodged the “terrible twos” bullet with our older son, only to have it rear it’s ugly head in his “threes.” And now of course having a newborn in the house, old questions as to “why” and “how” this whole children thing continues its popularity plagues my soul as I’m sitting in the Dutallier rocking my grunting son at 2:30 in the morning.

There’s an old saying of mine: “You can do a million things right and never get any credit, but you do one thing wrong and people never forget you for it.”

With children, I think the opposite is true: “Your children can act like the spawn of satan for a solid week, but when they get up in the morning, come over to you and give you a genuine hug–you know, one of those that they don’t immediately pull away from–you realize that it was all worth it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still only want two children, but it is in times like this that I realize how and why our species will survive. We thrive on love and acceptance, and children offer these without asking anything in return except our own love.
I get it now. It took two kids and months and months of sleepless hell, but I get it now.

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