Monday, March 14, 2011

Why it doesn't make sense to have kids (but we do it anyway)

In fact, all logical arguments point to the fact that having kids in this day and age is positively bonkers.  That's not to say, however, that having kids isn't worthwhile.  It is.

As an interesting, albeit junk study recently indicated, the argument for having kids for emotional kudos is based on pure delusion.  The 'evidence' suggests that if we remained childless, we'd not only be richer as a species, but happier, too.  (Though admittedly, we'd also, after quite a while, be extinct, too, but I digress...) Apparently the greater the perceived sacrifices made in raising children, the greater satisfaction parents report feeling.  Masochist, moi?  Well, the lot of us, it would seem. 

But such studies about parenting are tautological by nature and on a personal note, a real pain in the ass.  Data of the heart isn't readily quantifiable, regardless of how solid your control group.  Sure, parenthood doesn't make fiscal sense.  I mean, duh -- of course it doesn't.  But the emotional payback must range somewhere in the gazillions.  Ok, so some days this home truth isn't exactly apparent, and some days we're tempted to throttle our kids and risk capital punishment.  Some days we secretly lament the loss of freedom and pension fund; we daydream of a parallel, Sliding Doors kind of universe in which we are barren yet fancy free.  But then we blink, and the moment passes...

Besides, how can you put a value on your child's smile or any time he looks you in the eye and says, 'I love you, Mommy'?  That's right; you can't.  What pseudoscience tends to forget is that those moments, though admittedly few and far between, are priceless.  Likewise with marriage.  It's a bitch, and sometimes we want to throttle our spouse and risk aforementioned capital punishment.  But that doesn't put us off searching for a soul mate, and tying the knot again and again and again...  Our desire to bond with other human beings runs deeper than mere primordial urge.  (Well, perhaps excepting Charlie Sheen.)

Before I had children, my mother struggled --and failed-- to articulate the joys of motherhood to me.  It was much like trying to describe sex to a virgin.  'You'll understand once you have one,' she said enigmatically.  But you know what?  She was exactly right. On both counts.

1 comment:

  1. I love your analogy: "like trying to describe sex to a virgin." That's pretty much it.

    Having children has also helped me to live in the moment a bit more and to be more okay with aging (the passing of the reins, I suppose).

    Great post!