Sunday, November 19, 2006

thoughts from a tired mother

The other day, my pregnant wife and mother of one already told me it was in no way practical to bear children. She went on to say that in other times and in other cultures there were many reasons to have children. A boy could help in the fields and carry on the name and trade; a daughter was a hand in the kitchen and would perhaps earn a dowry some day. But in my world, there is no practical reason to procreate. It is no surprise the urban intelligentsia is not interested in this ancient tradition. They have discovered that our children drain resources instead of expanding them, giving nothing, taking everything. We are disconnected from past generations, we don’t care if our names die with us or not. We have no use for children. They constrict our lives and bring added worry with no quantifiable payoff. They will make us loose sleep, require us to give up hobbies and consume all of our leisure time. As they grow they will begin to ignore us and see us as the bane of their existence. Then they will deplete our savings and go to college. If we are lucky they will come home at Christmas, only to mention how much they talk about us in therapy. At best they will keep in touch enough to sponge occasional “loans” and at worst will never write home again. And to top it off, they will entrust us to “assisted living” when we are too old to survive on our own. So... why have kids? Why give, give, give, give?

12 comments:

bryan said...

phil,
this post is rich with despair on one hand and yet there is a subtle undertone of hope. a hope that we may be able return to a sense of familial and communal remembering. it saddens me to see how our culture has become one of forgetting and consumption.

why have kids? i'm not sure i have any practical response to that, but i can certainly say that sylas' face has certainly helped me remember something of God.

bryan said...

with the change of the title to this post it seems that i have overlooked its author. forgive me ruth.

erk said...

children are beautiful marks of god's miraculous work. one practical reason to have kids? to be reminded every minute that "i" am not the center of the universe. that is a priceless lesson. the sooner learned the happier i am...

cris said...

Wow. you are right. What the heck was I thinking???

Haha. Just kidding. True, one day Lucas will decide I am the most embarassing thing in the world but for now, boy do we laugh. He's a ton of work but I think the huge thing for me is how he is reawakening me to wonder at the smallest of things.

And HOPE. That is the main reason we have children, atleast that is what I believe. They are our hope and they display our hope.

Plus it is dreadfully fun to watch husbands act like fools as they play with their boys.

Jen said...

From someone who's babies were a surprise, I am definitely still trying to answer this question... today the answer has to do with Fiona greeting me at the door with a look on her face that said I am wondrous, and then telling me she is Roo and I am Kanga and we need to hop.

elnellis said...

hey bryan, sorry about the title switch, these come from ruth and i almost didn't give credit because she was articulating what i was often feel. but thanks for seeing both the despair and the hope in it. was that an unnerving post to read coming from parents? it's unnerving to hear it from your wife, too. i wanted to "fix" it for her because something deep down inside was resisting those honest sentiments. mothers shouldn't feel that way. but they do. so do dads.
i still maintain that the way in which we have crafted our world as we know it at the end of the modern age does not support the notion of children. we no longer need them because we have become so individualized. i'm curious what the postmodern context offers as far as what bryan said, the familial and the communal that seems to have been lost in the last age. and with the possibility of questioning pragmatism and the weight of the spiritual and existential realities we are now conceding too, it seems that children in one way, carry us out of our selves and out of this world... into the subversive realities of the kingdom of God. and you mum's are right. it's the sense of wonder, awe, fantasy and playfulness that connect with our hearts and make it worth it (but not practical).

Aaron said...

phil/ruth... thanks for being open with your thoughts, i know we are all asking the same questions sometimes. i was surprised as i was researching my "technology and loneliness" paper to learn that there are a camp of sociologists out there who believe that parents didn't love their children before the 19th century. their relationship was entirely practical as children were to help with the family business, etc. whether or not this is true, i think our idea of children today swings the pendulum the other direction, where it is entirely relationally centered. and given the choice between the two i think i'd choose the relationship over the practical. i think the tension with the relational side of child rearing is the same that is found in any relationship... that there is a degree of risk-- will this relationship pay off? will they grow up and be screwed up? will they ruin my life? will i regret entering this relationship? but i guess this is where hope comes into the relationship/family...

all this said...
don't ask me if i believe it when i have to go figure out why noah is awake at 3am and i have to try to get him back to sleep... or when you guys visit for the weekend and it consists of no sight-seeing or going out on the town...

but, like you said, "it is worth it (but not practical)"

Emily said...

not to mention that you'll inevitably become jealous of their youth and virility as you grow older. The stronger and more independent they become (hopefully), the weaker and more dependent you become . . .i see that attitude in our culture. a narcissistic attitudes toward the younger generations mixed with valid fears .. . the reason i want to have kids is because i hope. . for them and for this world. . why bring more sufferers into this world, if not for the glory of God?

angela said...

Wow, this post instantly called me out of my self as I ran down my own cheeks in what we call tears. I went immediately to myself as child, as daughter, to my own mother and father and how I am the adult child you have talked about. It's heart breaking to consider the love, the time, the energy, the heart that was/is given to me and how little I am able to really consider the sacrifices. Thank you for showing me my face as a 23 year old child. It's amazing to watch you guys with Sylie and hope that maybe my parents consider(ed) me with such sacrificial and lovely hearts. Sylie and Boo are rather lucky chitlens.

elnellis said...

wow ang, i hadn't even looked at it from that perspective. thanks for turning it around like that! you always offer a fresh perspective, thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

because we learn firsthand of the comsuming love of a parent, a love that transcends all love that has come before it.

Anonymous said...

found this as I was browsing through your stuff. Trying to figure out how the next generation thinks!

In my day, we said it was "guess the hormone" when coming from a pregnant woman with another child! She hasn't said anything that every woman out there throughout history has said. Being pregnant stinks! That's why I put a stop to it!

Children become so much more fun when they turn 11 and beyond. They are such fun to interact with, hang out with, love on and show the world there is an alternative to rebellion!

The post-whatever world found abortion and we have killed off our "troubles" but have brought about more.

Children are our key to wealth! they are the scientists, the leaders, the inventors of the future! How do we expect to survive as a race if we don't procreate?

then came God. He asked my husband &I to take on the wounds another woman had inflicted on her children and bring about healing in their lives. So, even though I didn't birth these girls, they're mine and there are days when their disabilities loom large and I wonder the purpose!

kids! you love 'em most of the time, can't stand them the rest. That is why there are two parents and you can't both be down on the same day!

love to you, lew