Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Children: the Benefits, Part Two
Here's a scenario that repeats itself whenever I attend a conference out of town:
Several of us will be sitting around, enjoying dinner or sharing a shuttle, or scoping out hotel gifts shops together, and the question of children will come up.
Those who have them will pull out cell phones and show off pictures while everyone oohs and aahs appreciatively. The norm seems to be one child; a few adventurous souls will own up to having two, which is warmly commended with nods of acknowledgement for the bravery of taking on two.
Then it's my turn. I smile super big, pull out my phone with pictures and trump them all with FOUR.
There is stunned silence, until inevitably, some shocked soul will whisper "but, WHY?"
The shock intensifies when they discover that all four are adopted and therefore pretty clearly wanted, chosen, and planned for. No accidents among the bunch.
This isn't about answering that asinine question of why. I can't think of anything better to do with my life than raise a family. In my mind, justifying it is akin to justifying why anyone would want to ever fall in love or eat chocolate or go to heaven. It's such no-brainer that it doesn't even deserve much of a response.
The thing is, I can't wrap my mind around the other side. It blows me away that so very many people are deciding that children simply aren't worth it. It blows me away that they are so focused on the work and messiness and inconvenience of children that they've completely lost sight of the incomparable joy that comes with family life. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the short-sightedness that opts for less hassle now with no thought to everything that is lost by that choice.
It's especially ironic considering that most of them are one of several children who enjoy all the benefits of sibling relationships. I'm tempted to point out at times that someone willingly tackled the task of giving them life and rearing them to be moderately productive citizens, and doesn't it seem just a wee bit self-centered to refuse that role for another someone?
But, in spite of the judgmental tone of this post, I don't really spend much time worrying about the choices that other people make regarding procreation. We all choose our own path, and I respect that.
It just makes me sad that for so many people, it's a one-sided choice.
I know when I get home I'm gonna be tackled to the floor by four little people who have missed me more than anything. It's gonna be loud; they're all going to shout at once, all the exciting news I've missed. It's gonna involve crying and hurt feelings and poked elbows and trampled toes. It's gonna be messy--I'm trying not to think about what the house will look like when I get back.
It's going to be heaven on earth.
Maybe that's what I'll say, the next time someone asks why.