This is something I’ve been thinking about writing for a really long time, partly because we have quite a number in our circle of friends who are wondering whether or not to have children, and partly because our government keeps harping on the subject but is doing a really poor job of selling the idea, the latter being my personal opinion.
Wow, that was a really long sentence.
When I attended the government dialogue session for young couples back in May, there was this candid exchange between the MP who was on the panel and a mother of two.
“What would make you have your third child?” asked the MP, “$10,000? No? How about $12,000?”, referring to the Baby Bonus scheme. Sitting there, it felt like I was watching someone bidding in an auction for a piece of meat.
That’s part of the problem with us isn’t it? That we often view having a family as an economic decision. Not merely monetary, but economic. That having a child will incur the opportunity cost of a high-flying career or late night parties. And you’d be right. If you’re a parent worth his or her salt, you’ll be conflicted with these choices.
With Faith and I, having children wasn’t an economic choice, probably because neither of us had the mental tenacity to strenuously debate this life-altering decision.
We had children simply because it felt like a natural next step. It literally felt like the act of putting your right foot ahead of your left foot in the act of walking. I think we gave very little thought to the consequences of our choice, and looking back I doubt any amount of extrapolation would have prepared us for its magnitude.
Children are a blessing from God (Psalm 127). We can truly testify to that statement. My heart is filled with joy just thinking about how Anne wore her pants on her own a few hours ago. Back to front, no less. Maybe the joys of parenting seem so trivial to the onlooker, but that’s what parenting is. It amplifies life. It stretches the gamut of emotional experience, tests your physical endurance and in the process transforms your mind so indelibly. Where once you frowned upon parents who brought their children out to dinner, now you can’t help but gush over how cute those kids are.
Does parenting make you stupid? Possibly. Unsophisticated? Definitely. Parenting strips away the unnecessary baggage that has been accumulating over years of social engineering. Your children will not respect your enormous job title or your educational qualifications. They do not care for your keen business acumen or your dazzling intellect, but a smile from you would suffice to light up their faces and a kind word would go a long way.
It is then you realise that they are educating you in the truly important things in life. And that at some very tangible level, you needed them more than they need you.