I apologise in advance for this entry. It’s not greatly cohesive but also not as wonderfully stream of consciousness as Joyce. But I’m playing with ideas lately and this is the one that is not so depressive as some others.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about not having children. For is it was a medical and financial matter; we tried and tried and when they didn’t show up the “normal” way or when assisted by life-affirming methods (no in vitro) we figured God was trying to tell us something. We didn’t adopt because although both methods–birth and adoption–result in the similar end of a family parenting children we firmly believe that adoption is a distinct call. Not everyone who fails to reproduce physically is called to adopt. Adoption is a serious decision, not a consolation prize. We weren’t called to adopt, in much the same way that we weren’t called to missions work in El Salvador and weren’t called to careers in thoracic surgery. Nothing wrong with any of those paths–they just weren’t for us.
Last week a friend sent me a link to a blog by a woman in the Quiverfull movement who was deciding that not doing her hair with a curling iron every day was a sign of deep laziness on her part. The article detailed how she squeezed a beauty regimen into her day. A day that was already full with the parenting of six children. Then there’s this book going around that talks about modern parenting called Why Have Kids? (it’s on sale for Kindle. $2 to answer a question that I’ve already figured out for myself, but still an interesting read.)
Children aren’t what they used to be. We don’t need them to help bring in the crops or keep the house clean.
I no longer feel like I’ve missed out. Don’t get me wrong–I’m aware of certain joys I’ll never have. I spent a lot of my grandmother’s funeral wondering who will give one iota of caring when I’m gone. But I’m also more and more aware of just how full life can be apart from parenting. I’m realising how many avenues of care and nurturing are opened to me since I don’t have children to spend those energies upon. It’s not an empty existence at all; my future doesnt stretch bleakly before me.
I remember the days of struggle with infertility and the belief that I would not be a whole person or a happy person until I had children. I was convinced that there was no joy to be had until the next thing came along. Thank God I grew out of that. Quite literally. I have the most joy-filled life right now.
What bothers me most, though, are the people who are bemoaning how expensive it is to have kids. I know it’s expensive, but from where I sit it looks a lot like some of those who are complaining could stand to learn about Opportunity Cost. You always make a choice when you acquire something. Going skiing on vacation means you don’t get to go to the beach for as many days. Both are good choices–snow skiing and beach-combing. But you have to choose. When you have pizza for dinner you don’t have tacos. Again, both fine choices…but choices nonetheless.
When you have kids you don’t get to spend that money on other things. My parents had four kids. Among the stuff they gave up to do so are: cable television, new cars every two years, restaurant meals, five years in the middle of my mom’s career and then the rest of her career in a lower paying job in order to get discounted tuition for the children, a debt-free lifestyle, several trips to exotic places, a lake cottage, an expensive house in the nicest part of town, membership in the country club, a more-high powered career for my dad in the Indiana Supreme Court. They ended up with decent jobs and a good home and some nice vacations. But they gave things up. You have to give things up when you make a choice.