I would never ever presume that having children is for everyone. There are people in this world, and yes, many of them are women, who don’t want children. They just don’t. Not wanting children is not some kind of psychological condition, it’s not some kind of brain damage, it’s not some kind of flaw in the genetics of the female who has no desire for kids. Children are just a lovely kind of awful that isn’t for everyone.
I know this. I knew this when my husband and I decided to start a family. I had my heart and my eyes open and we leaped into parenthood thinking that we were fully aware. It was just the natural progression. We had our degrees, our jobs, our home, each other. We did the typical trial run with a dog and 2 cats. We were ready. It was time.
And now? After 8 years of being parents?
We haven’t truly slept in 8 years. But that’s OK. I’m still wiping poo from booties that are getting way too big for that. That’s all right. Cartoons and dumb kid shows have taken over every TV in the house. No big deal. Lego’s underfoot. Crumbs appear 2 seconds after the floor is swept and mopped. Phantom spills. Muddy shoes. Strange crusty spots (boogers?). Mysterious tags and itchy things in clothes that require 5 outfit changes. Only going to the theatre to see Disney movies. Pizza and burgers all the time. Fighting. Crying. Negotiating. It’s all worth it.
Less of me. More of them. That is what being a parent means. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There is no escape. No reprieve. They are mine and I am theirs. I will never forsake them.
Being a parent isn’t cute. It isn’t all fluffy bows and adorable outfits. It isn’t unconditional love and endless cuddles. Most of the time, they don’t even like you that much. Most of the time they are trying to get their agenda passed the boss. Most of the time, kids are incredibly self-centered and self-absorbed. They want what they want when they want it.
Being a parent is about teaching them what you are still learning for yourself –be good, be kind, think of others, wait your turn, ask politely, share. Being a parent is about helping our kids unlearn and tame that part of us as humans that stomps it’s feet and flails it’s arms because it didn’t get what it wanted. I’ve seen some parents still working on this for themselves. I’m still working on it.
Parents are forming the good humans of the future. I can not think of a more important job. It’s not a job for everyone, but for those that choose to be parents, there is no greater purpose than that.