With so many choosing to not have children because they think it to hard and constricting to their lifestyle I ask myself why choose to be a parent, why do we give up our childless freedoms. The truth is that children require adjustments and changes to your lifestyle, they drain your finances. You have to share your money buying them things when you could be spending it on yourself. Spending it on travel and worldly experiences. You have to consider them before you can do what you want like travel or career choice or even evenings out with friends. They can cause stress, worry, disappointment and concern. So why have children, what’s the attraction.
I recently listened to an interview with Gillian Straker a psychotherapist who is one of the authors of The Talking Cure. She said, connections are more important to happiness than beauty, wealth or fame. This I totally agree with. Connections, because without them what’s the use of beauty if there is no one to admire and love and them love you back or money if there’s no one to share the beautiful things in life, and fame if you are an object only with no love in your life. Sure, other adults can give the emotional need of connectivity, you don’t necessarily need children to feel fulfilled.
Connections bring love, admiration, respect and fulfilment. Without connections we are an empty shell, hollow. Humans aren’t clay figurines like the famous terracotta worriers despite each and everyone of them having individual faces and appearances. We are complex, interesting creatures, with chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, with electrical impulses that create movement of muscles thus animation, we can create, think and reproduce, reprocreate. That means we can create another human. That a women can grow a human with the impregnation of a fertilised egg. Humans have babies and they are then referred to as parents in the primate world.
Reprocreating is vital for our human survival. So why has it become so unattractive to so many now, that they are choosing not to be parents. That is for someone more wiser than I to answer.
I had my children in my twenties which looking at the decades of my life has been the sweet spot in my life. I have lived five decades. This is how my decades have defined me.
1-10 = my parents divorce
10-20 =Having to change schools and make new friends a couple of times
20-30= getting married and having children
30-40 = illness and death of mother and husband
40-50 = New partner and happiness again and enduring blended family life
I guess it’s events that are life changing that have been defining for me, that have changed life and brought about forced change. Moments of having to overcome adversity.
My second decade of my life was the most carefree and happiest. As Jane pointed out,
‘I think that period of life was your innocence period. Before you knew the dark side of life. So when you measure everything against that time of your life it’s hard because you were a different person’
In love, young, career on the planned trajectory, married and having children. The sweet spot of my life. My 30-40’s was the worst decade of my life. I feel cheated of my 30’s which was taken with grief. It’s funny how life turns out. If I hadn’t got married and had children early in my 20’s I may never have had children.
I grieved my 30’s away and didn’t really move into new relationships until my late 30’s & 40’s and it may have been to late to bear children by the time I was in a second fulfilling relationship which didn’t happen until 42. Having children has been one of the best experiences of my life. Being a parent on the rollercoaster of what we call life, that has been my one constant, the stabiliser, the only thing at times that made sense. It gave me purpose and direction and unconditional love when I was in need of it.
As hard and demanding parenting, the love you feel for each child is life enriching.
And love is a gift you can’t buy. It’s such a precious entity, and children and love is priceless. As the cliche saying goes everything worth working for is hard work but the most rewarding. Having children gives a connection, a bond, that no other love can emulate.
I do think with parenting you get back what you put in. If you are a ‘present’ parent you get back. If you take the time to build a connection you get back all your life. Kids are individuals with individual personalities and it still requires skills like any relationship to maintain, knowing which battles are important and which to let go of. But a connection built on truth of person is what’s wonderful. No pretence . You know your kids warts and all and they know you. It’s a genuine connection built on respect, truthfulness and realness. Make up, no makeup, angry and happy days and pretty much unconditional . That type of love is unique and beautiful.
To grow a human, be present at their birth and seeing life begin outside of the womb by a first breath, and oxygen bring pinkness to their skin that will go pale or blue without it, and animation to their being is nothing short of amazing. The love and connection incredible.
To care for them in their helplessness as babies and infants that without your nurturing they would die. To keep something alive creates a lifelong connection whether you are the birth parent or not. To nurture your child in their vulnerability is life changing. To then see them smile back at you one day, a reward for your care and love. A connection has happened between the two of you, a bond. When you love somebody you only want good for them. Watching as they meet their milestones and achieve brings joy. Feeling fortunate they are having good things happen to them brings happiness beyond description. For those that have faced difficulties to see them overcome adversity and thrive and have happiness is beautiful and your love only deepens more.
As they reach adolescence and start to push back, as a parent you understand that is normal but your responsibility is to give boundaries. Everything you do for your children is so they have the nicest life. The most rewarding life.
For parents who lose their children before they have had a chance to live their life in full is tragic beyond thought.
You are guiding them to be good citizens in the community. Nice people, kind people, with good work ethic and integrity because you yourself know they are the adults you admire and all you want for your children is good and admiration because you know that’s the easier path in life as opposed to conflict, violence and oppression.
As they grown into young adults you want to only see good come their way. As they make connections, friends, your web of connections also grows. New interesting people enter your life. The not so good ones we learn what we don’t want in life and the good connections continue to enrich our lives.
As your children flee the nest, now with less influence from your intensity of protection, oozing with love and care you reluctantly hand them over to the next person who will be the caretaker of their heart, who will carry on in your abscence one day.
You want that caretaker, the person they chose to give their heart to, to love them as you do. To carry on in your abscence to bring joy to their life and allow them to continue to thrive and grow and experience life to its fullest. For them to be happy. And in times when realities of life knock them to their knees or worse completely to the ground that their caretaker of their heart will reach out their hand each and every time and help them to their feet, and if they can’t that they sit beside them and let them lean on them, lean on each other and wait until they can get up. And that the two rise as one stronger than ever, whether that care taker is a lover or friend.
That’s why connections are so important so when we fall someone is there to help us rise and as parents we hope one day our children will be blessed with choices and one of those is a choice of experiencing being a parent, if they chose to. For me albeit that tragedy struck and I was thrown into being a sole parent, I still have no regrets. My children brought me such joy in their early years, helped me in my times of grief and despair, gave me purpose in a senseless situation, and my love for them is undying. At every stage in a child’s life as a parent there’s something to look forward to.
When pregnant, seeing your own belly grow, feeling your baby moving inside you, meeting them as you birth and watching them take that first breath, hearing that cry of life brings a tear of joy to your eye.
Their first gaze into your eye, their first smile and recognition of familiarity and love. Watching them meet their milestones, rolling, sitting, their first steps, their first poop in a toilet. Making their first friend at school, or becoming student of the week and seeing pride beam from within. Passing their first big exams, telling you about their days…… the list goes on. My son is now married and the next will be him becoming a parent. I look forward to meeting my grandchildren each and everyone of them and watching the cycle of life.
Your life changes when children come into it. There’s no doubting that, but amongst the tears and heartaches there’s an abundance of joy. And despite all the sacrifices I have made the positives absolutely outweigh the negatives so far and I feel blessed to have been fortunate enough to have three children.
Our family has grown and blended and two more children have been welcomed in.
We are now a family of five children.
Love Lucy x