Monday, February 1, 2016

WHY did you have kids?

No one has ever asked me this, but it only now occurs to me that I have no good answer to the question of why Terry and I had kids in the first place.

Why DID we have kids? And why five? I don't know that there was much conscious thought on either point. There was, frankly, a certain element of, "Well, we're married. We're young. Having kids is what you're supposed to do next."

But who says that's what you're supposed to do next? God, I guess. "Be fruitful and multiply" and all that. But it's certainly not a requirement for living a happy and fulfilling life. Lots and lots of people are childless and perfectly content (or "child-free," as many like to say, as if having kids is some sort of disease...which for them it may well seem to be, and that's fine).

Beyond the "life momentum" thing, though, why have kids? What prompts someone to do that? I think there's a certain level of vanity to it. It's the biological equivalent of saying, "You know what? I'm a pretty good person. The world would be a better place if there were a few more people running around who look and presumably act just like me."

NOTE TO WOULD-BE PARENTS: It doesn't always work that way. Your children may resemble one or both of you, but there's no guarantee they'll act the way you want them to act. I got lucky. Or I should say I was blessed. I happen to have ended up with good kids, due mostly to the tireless efforts of Terry to civilize the little beasts.

There's also probably a degree of curiosity to it. "I wonder what it would be like to have a baby. Or a toddler. Or an adolescent. Or a teenager. Or a young adult. Or all of the above." Unfortunately, the only way to truly answer these questions is actually to experience parenthood. And if you happen to find that you're not particularly good at it, or that it doesn't suit you, you're kind of stuck with the kid. Chalk it up to child protection laws and societal norms and whatnot.

Financially, kids can be a huge drain, though the U.S. tax code is written such that they serve as valuable deductions when you're filling out the ol' Form 1040. In the end, though, you spend far more money on them than you ever get back.

Truly, the payoff to having kids is intangible. I've written about it many times and won't go into it here, but suffice to say that I would never, ever change a thing about the decisions Terry and I have made when it comes to having children. It is an incredible experience that has made me a far better person.

Why did I have kids? I don't know. But the rewards are amazing.

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