Why kids?

After I read this post about why not to have kids, it got me thinking okay, now I know some of the reasons why not to have kids. And then that thought was followed by, really then, why have kids? It is a valid question, after all. A rather important one, & here are some of my thoughts on the matter.

I am confident I have the coolest family in the world.

(And for the record, all these beautiful people, are in fact, my family.  I know, gorgeous, right?)

I have to remind myself that having 6 siblings is not “normal,” & that having 27 nieces & nephews, 60+ cousins, 16 brother & sister-in-laws is also not normal.

It’s not normal, yes, & it’s also, pretty (freakin’) amazing.

A few things family has taught me:

1)  There are all sorts of personalities in this world.

Sometimes those personalities are loud, annoying, obnoxious, fun, calm, thoughtful, creative, giving, nurturing, ambitious. (Notice how quiet was not listed here.  That attribute doesn’t exist in my family).

My job is to enjoy, to love, & get along, best I can, despite all of these different personalities.

2)  Each individual is an individual.

Just because we come from the same family doesn’t mean we’re anything alike.

That said, it’s remarkable how many traits I share with my siblings, parents, nieces & nephews.

3) Being a part of a family gives a sense of belonging.

It’s much more than membership to a club, or belonging to an organization. We’re tied by blood, yes. But it’s greater than that. We share roots, we share traits. We’re brother & sister & those ties cannot be quantified.

In a family, the whole is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. There’s strength, comfort, in that.

4) The family is a microcosm of society.

It’s the training ground for life. You learn how to share, to love, to give selflessly. To forgive when it’s hard, to know the joy of self-less giving, to know what patience & compassion mean.

5)  Loyalty.

No one will love & care for me like my family. No one will have my back like my family. We don’t desert because things are inconvenient or don’t fit in with “our plan.” We support each other  despite differences.

6)  When I need to laugh, cry, or vent, I know I can call my sisters.

Thank heavens for sisters.

7) When I need to know that people are looking out for me, I call my brothers.

8)  People in a family aren’t perfect, therefore, family life is imperfect.

Creating a family is often messy. There can be heartbreak, disappointment & broken promises. Personalities clash, there are arguments, & not everything’s rosy.  There are health problems, aging, mistakes & regrets.

It’s the rough patches, the quirks, the bumps in the road, forgiveness & compassion, that make being a part of family a beautiful, wonderful thing.

9) There is no end to love, or the capacity to love.

With each addition to family, your heart expands in a way you thought not possible.

 10) There is no replacement for family.

Career success, travels (no matter how exotic or far flung), worldly accolades, time alone, hobbies–none of these can replace the joy, the learning, the growth, that takes place in a family.

We will never be “so advanced” as a society that we no longer need family.

Back to the original question:  why have kids?

For me, the choice is uncomplicated.

I’m in a position, blessed with a husband whom I love & respect (& who reciprocates those feelings), & we want to spend our lives together creating our own family.  We believe life is about relationships, particularly familial ones.

We are willing to do whatever it takes to create a warm, intellectually challenging, spiritually enriching home.  There have been sacrifices, there will be many more.  But we’re up for it.  It’s exciting to us & we love the prospect of being a part, a witness to the growing up experiences of some really remarkable individuals (our children).

I realize not everyone can, or wants to have kids.  But we can.  We want to.  That’s why.

Believe me, I realize I’m exceptionally blessed to have such positive relationships with my family.  I understand there are a lot of bad, hurtful, & tragic things that go on in families.  My heart goes out to those individuals in pain, who have been hurt terribly by people who should have protected & cared for them.

But.  I don’t think happiness in family life is reserved for the “lucky ones.”

There are always fresh starts, new beginnings.

There is always hope, & love, is always a choice.

♥♥♥

What makes family life hard/joyful/amazing for you?
Why do you think it’s worth it to invest in family relationships?
If you have kids, why did you decide to have kids?

♥♥♥

P.S. There was some concern over my new, revised grocery budget. Just to be clear, I am not cutting out fruits & vegetables out of our diets! Please read my responses to your comments for more details. And I love you all, btw. Did you know that? I’m just amazed at your willingness to share, to ask questions, to be open & honest. When I read your comments I say to myself:  “THIS, this is why I blog.” You’re the reason, dearest. So thank you for reading & contributing. & rest assured, we will be eating our veggies 🙂   

P.P.S. Sorry about the absentee MM post this week! I’m afraid things won’t be quite normal around here for awhile. I’m going to D.C. for a little love affair with the husband  next week, then the week after that we’re packing up & driving to San Antonio. Then it’s finding a place to live, moving in, Christmas, & of course, trying to sneak in as much Joseph time as possible. I think things may not be regular & normal around here until after the new year. But don’t worry, I’m much too fond of you to neglect this old blog for long, so I will be popping in as often as I can during this time of upheaval & exciting transition.

P.P.P.S.  It’s been brought to my attention that I’ve been committing a rather unforgivable typographical error all these years in double spacing between sentences. (Thanks Jeff Goins.) It may take awhile, but I am trying to mend my ways.    

  


Comments


  1. Pingback: Anne P.’s Quinoa Salad with Cranberries and Pecans. Plus, Making Time for Friends: How Relationships Keep Me Centered.

  2. Dana
    on November 25, 2012 at 5:35 am said:

    Love this post and the pix of your beautiful family, Janae! I have to admit that I envy you your clan and have always wished I hailed from a big, close family. Funny, after seeing the movie Moonstruck- that became my dream family- an intergenerational group that argued, hugged, laughed, got mad and made up- all in the same hour, all together. I have two older brothers and parents who divorced when I was two, and for whatever reason, we were brought up to be more adverserial than supporters of each other- jealousy, hurt feelings, intentional misunderstandings seem to reign more than the “got your back” attributes of my dream family. I think those relationships kept me from ever having the confidence to start my own family- until finally (!) at 44, I met someone who supported me fully for the person I am, not the person I “should’ be. We opened our home to foster kids as a way of giving back, having no idea how much we would actually be the ones receiving! Fast forward a bit and we are proud and joyous parents to our (now adopted) sons, nearly 8 and 4. They’ve changed our lives immeasurably and all for the better. We prayerfully consider whether we should foster/adopt more- as I would love to have at least four kids- but with our ages, work & school schedules and the special exuberance of our youngest, we aren’t sure we can burn too many candles at both ends- but we remain open to it. I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be able to provide the right kind of family for a child and that they deserved better than what I could offer, but finally- I am growing confident in my belief that love, support, nurturing- that’s what is good for a child and for a family.

    Thanks for your posts -and as always- for sharing your family and your life with us! Hope you have a wonderful time in DC!!

  3. Sandra
    on November 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm said:

    I’ve wanted to respond to your lovely post!

    I won’t repeat it all here but I recently wrote an essay (that’ll be published – woot!) about my ambivalence about having a family. In short, I grew up in a family of generations of unhappy women. As a child my own “2+2” equated that unhappiness with parenthood. I also didn’t have any role models of women who were mothers AND who had a creative practice.

    Tick tick tick and I met the man I am now married to. We were VERY lucky to have our girl who is now almost 7 – two adoptions gone awry, various miscarriages and then fertility treatments that didn’t work. She’s an only but a well loved girl. (As an aside, my husband is an only child too – and he has only good memories and lots of decades long friendships with childhood friends).

    For me it took some growing up to realise that motherhood isn’t an either/or – it’s an “and”. Mothering AND writer. Mothering AND photographer. Mothering AND .

    I wish I had met my guy sooner and my only regret is that we didn’t create a few more wonderful kids like our daughter – she really is a delight.

    Career success and achievement and experiences are wonderful. But I think when you are 80 and looking back on your life, I don’t know how much of that will be at the forefront compared to family.

  4. Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit
    on November 21, 2012 at 1:36 pm said:

    I feel like it’s been ages since I stopped in to see what you were up to. Life has been crazy. Mad crazy. You never cease to amazing me. This post is amazing. So heartfelt and just perfect. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want children of my own but seeing how fabulous your family is together, how much love is so obviously there, it has me second guessing myself. Sheesh! Very beautiful post, just lovely 😉

  5. lfwfv
    on November 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm said:

    Love this post Janae. I miss my family so much, being separated them by 2500+ miles. We grew up with a very tight-knit extended family circle and I miss my aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and parents. I honestly hope one day it might be in the cards to move to Canada. Until then, i stay in touch with email and frequent phone calls. I agree family bonds are amazing bonds (and yes, we’ve had our ups and downs (some major), but we’ve always worked through it, even if it’s taken years to heal/restore relationships).

  6. Melissa
    on November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm said:

    Both your post and the Cup of Jo link you provided were both interesting. I do agree that it is the norm to have children and those without are expected to explain themselves as to why. One of my bosses had a child with his first wife (while in his late 20s or early 30s). In his 50s, he remarried a younger woman (she was early 30s). They did not have children. I met them when he was turning 60 and she was pushing 40. When she told me about her family and issues she will have to deal with, I completely understood why she chose not to have a child. (Aging parents, disabled brother she will become responsible for… husband of advanced age.) So really, her choice was a gift to her any child she would have had, as it would not have been given the attention she knew it would deserve. Selfish reason? Not in the least.

    As for me, when having children didn’t come as naturally as some I know (wink wink) and I had to REALLY think about whether or not I wanted children, it was a hard conversation with myself. I had been raised to be part of a big family and (per God’s law) to have lots of my own. But with so many who “accidentally” are expecting and the decision is made for them, the decision is taken away from them. But, as I said, I knew that if I wanted to be a mom, I would need to decide if that is what I really wanted. Did I want to get pregnant because I was angry I couldn’t? (I am NOT the type of person who likes to be told “you can’t” as it just makes me more determined to prove it wrong!) Or did I want to get pregnant because I wanted my husband to be a father? Did I want to be a mother? Did we want the responsibility, etc? Seriously, it was a very difficulty thing to come to grips with. Even now I think about how much fun we have had and how our lives (as we have become accustom to knowing it) are going to change forever.

    Funny story: we would often get asked about our family plans (side note: “do you want kids?” is the MOST ANNOYING QUESTION EVER!) One time, while my husband was facilitating a visitation (as a foster-care worker) between a 10-year old foster kid and his mother (who had turned son over to the state), mother brought along her 18 month old (child from new marriage) and my husband was playing with 18 month old… mother asked “Do you have any children of your own?” to which my husband replied “no.” So what does she have the gall to say? “You really should. They are such a blessing.” Um really? On a VISITATION with your turned-over-to-the-state-because-you-can’t/don’t wanna-take-care-of-him son you are going to give advice on the joys of parenting? 😉
    **Some people are idiots and shouldn’t be ALLOWED to procreate. Honestly…

  7. Alissa N
    on November 20, 2012 at 9:11 am said:

    First of all, your family is beautiful. So beautiful!! I agree with the importance of family. My family has suffered some hardships, and had it’s ups and downs, but I have always had a family in the people I love. Though some might not be blood relatives, its the sense of community and trust and unconditional love that makes a family. I feel so fortunate to have those kinds of people in my life through a mixture of traditional family and wonderful friends. I love large families, and think having a sense of community is so important for people young and old!!

  8. Cara
    on November 20, 2012 at 7:09 am said:

    Beautiful post, I couldn’t agree more! I always knew I wanted to be a mom and although it took me a little while to feel “ready” (we were married for 4 years before we started trying) I knew the day would come and I feel so blessed that our little one is on the way.

    I know there are also a lot of strong opinions out there on having 1 child vs. 2 or more, but for many of the reasons you mention, I cannot imagine NOT giving my children the gift of siblings.

    • Janae Wise
      on November 20, 2012 at 9:00 am said:

      “I know there are also a lot of strong opinions out there on having 1 child vs. 2 or more..”

      I know it’s in large part due to my upbringing, but I don’t think it’s strange/bad at all to have 2 or more kids. In fact, it’s hard for me imagine that if someone decided to have kids that they would just have one, simply because I think that every person deserves to have a sibling(s). So much can be learned from siblings. I know I’m fundamentally influenced by siblings (fortunately, all positive) & can’t imagine what I might be like had I not had siblings. And from a lazy parent’s perspective–having another child(ren) around means entertainment & playmates, so in many ways it makes your job EASIER.

      I think raising a family, in a thoughtful, engaged way is one of the great gifts to mankind. I fear too many people don’t value the work of mothers & homemaking (because there is no $$$ involved), but it doesn’t take away from the value & worth of it. Congrats on your little one–such a big change/step in life. I have confidence you will be a wonderful mother, Cara & am excited for you & your husband.

  9. Ricki
    on November 20, 2012 at 6:26 am said:

    Fabulous post, Janae, as always. And WHAT a beautiful family you have!! 😀

    I agree entirely with Gena up there, mostly because I am in a similar situation (my parents didn’t divorce, but my family is the quintessentially dysfunctional one, and it’s never been a huge pile of people joyfully spending time together). Yes, there are members of my family that I’m in touch with a lot and adore, but for the most part, I’ve created my own “family” through deep, long-term friendships. I have had most of the support and love in my life from people who are not biologically tied to me.

    As for kids, I have no idea how that would have worked out had it happened. My honey and I, as it turned out, were already too old to have kids when we met. I take that as a sign from above that this is the way my life was meant to go. Many of my dear friends have children and I’ve enjoyed spending time with them and seeing them grow up. . . . not entirely sure I would be capable of taking that on, to be honest, though!!

    Lastly–I, too, commit that ultimate of typographical sins. I was taught to type that way and it’s excruciatingly difficult to unlearn it! Apparently, WordPress will make the change for you when a comment is posted. Hoping that’s true! 🙂

    • Janae Wise
      on November 20, 2012 at 8:26 am said:

      First off, thank you for the compliment! They are beautiful, aren’t they?

      I had to chuckle a bit when I read your comment. “Huge pile of people joyfully spending time together”–just so we’re clear, this not the permanent state of my family. I’m afraid I give that impression. We do love each other, we love being together, but it isn’t always roses & lollipops. We have our fair share of dysfunction, arguments, & all that. But, yes, I’d say the majority of the time, especially now that we’re all adults, we like each other. Although, as you might imagine, it’s difficult to get all of the siblings & their kids together in one place. It happens but once a year, if that, but we do get together with various siblings when we can & it is always a somewhat loud & chaotic affair.

      You know, so you didn’t have kids. But I don’t know if you realize this or not, how motherly you are with your blog. I mean really. I know of no other blogger who is as nurturing, kind, & thoughtful as you are. You are so giving of your time & energy & you bring everyone together. You are such a blessing to so many people. I know I’m not the only one who thinks you’re pretty amazing! Also, I think your husband counts for family, so even though yours is a bit smaller, you do have one! (& of course your adorable dogs, you’re mum to them too.)

      & regarding the double spacing–I wish I knew more history behind the whys & whats. I just followed a tweet from Jeff about how he couldn’t stand reading another double spaced sentence, & I thought, “what that’s a bad thing? I thought that’s how you were supposed to do it.” Now I’m trying to rack my brain & figure out exactly why I thought that & how I never got the memo about single spacing. I know, a bit of grammar nerd worry, but hey, I want to stop committing these offenses if they are in fact, offenses.

      • Julie G
        on November 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm said:

        On double-spacing…I learned to do it in typing class, circa 1986. In college, American Psychological Assoc. style, which my professional papers had to be written in, also agreed on the double space after sentence ending periods! Somewhere, this changed…who knows why. But you can retrain yourself I promise! Did you learn it in typing/keyboarding too?

  10. Gena
    on November 20, 2012 at 5:33 am said:

    What a treat to wake up, see your comment, and then read a characteristically loving post from you. I miss you too, have also been crazed, but am also looking forward to meeting you, my dear!

    I have a different relationship to the idea of family as you do; it has just never been important to me in the way it is to some. That’s partly being an only child, a divorced kid, and learning as I grew up that I could create “family” through deep friendships. I personally have always felt that the true family are people we actively place into our lives, not people we are biologically tied to; the fact that I have little in common, ideologically or culturally, with much of my family, compounds this. But again, we’re all products of our childhood paradigms, and that dictates our feelings about family to a large degree, doesn’t it?

    I do think it would be wonderful to have kids at some point, but right now the exclusive focus is this journey into healthcare, and I’m not always sure how that jives with having kids. I also wonder if I feel more strongly about adopting a child than actually bringing one into the world–another complex question! So I guess at the moment my attitude is that I’ll just see what happens when it happens 🙂 It’s nice to be totally open to the concept of having children but also open to a life in which I give back to the world in other ways; I’ve always felt that the important thing is to love and care for other human beings, so as long as one is doing that–be it through work, friendships, or parenting–nothing is lost.

    xo

    • Janae Wise
      on November 20, 2012 at 8:00 am said:

      “I personally have always felt that the true family are people we actively place into our lives, not people we are biologically tied to.”

      We do have a great capacity to love, & those aren’t always the people we are biologically tied to, that is true. I haven’t had a lot of experience with this, mostly because, as is obvious, I have my plate full with trying to keep up with all my biological relationships, but I have a few strong ties to people over the years who aren’t related by blood. People who have become “like family” & I’ve felt very fortunate to have these people in my lives. That said, nothing like having a sister–I’ve been best friends with my sisters since I was born & I’m grateful to know that friendship can & will continue, despite all the life changes we happen to make.

      Ah, the adoption issue. Truthfully, I think adoption is a marvelous thing. I think we’d be open to it if there weren’t as many barriers to it. As it is, I know many couples who are a childless who wait years for the opportunity to adopt (& pay A LOT of money in the process), which is shame, considering how many children are born into homes where they are not loved or wanted. I really wish that more women would be open to adoption, but many cultures tend to shy away from adoption, even if the mother is young or unsupported &/or jobless, because their sense of duty & loyalty to family is so strong. I understand that viewpoint, but I see it all too often & it does make me a bit sad, especially for those who would give anything to adopt & would be amazing parents.

      “It’s nice to be totally open to the concept of having children but also open to a life in which I give back to the world in other ways; I’ve always felt that the important thing is to love and care for other human beings, so as long as one is doing that–be it through work, friendships, or parenting–nothing is lost.”

      Why am I completely confident you are going to do amazing things with your life? You do have a remarkable giving spirit, & I know that your path in life will be one of giving & loving. That’s just who you are, Gena. So wonderful to hear from you too (seriously soooo excited for DC!).

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