I don’t use alarm clocks anymore. I have children to wake me up. To remind me every morning of my connection to the world with giggles and smiles.
But there seems to be a global alarm ringing on children that many of us aren’t hearing. It’s a growing sentiment that children are “bad.”
In many countries, most notably Germany, birth rates have plummeted. And we know other countries like China have limits on the number of children a couple can have.
Abortion clinics in the United States are closing, yet a chilling percentage of women, particularly Black women, are still choosing to abort.
I know many people have valid reasons not to reproduce – age, illness, family history of genetic problems, etc. But It seems these days couples have more reason not to have children than they do to give life to a new generation. Kids are expensive. They’re not environmentally friendly, they’re messy, inconvenient, they aren’t welcome in our favorite places, they require a great deal of work, they take up too much space, they’re noisy, they’re gross, we’re too busy, our marriage isn’t stable enough, they’re hell on a woman’s body. Quite frankly, they cramp our style.
Many young women these days seem to actually FEAR children. They have placed such value on careers and lifestyle that many want no disruptions to their personal ability to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Last week, I was literally looked over and giggled at by two younger ladies, all dolled up, as I fought my way into Marshall’s with my two girls. They seemed to be saying “see what kids will do to you?!” It reminded me of being bullied in eighth grade.
I think I was this person once – I used to get torqued when someone would tell me I’d understand something better when I had kids. What did that have to do with anything? I hated the noise and whining on planes, in stores, at restaurants. I used to think if I saw a parent reprimanding a child somewhere that I should step in. Obviously this person was incompetent. Even worse, I didn’t think being a parent was going to be that big a deal.
Fast forward to now. Somewhere along the road, everyone I knew got married and -gasp- kids started showing up everywhere. Dinner wasn’t a night out, it was a night in at someone else’s house. Movies were on DVR. People disappeared for feedings.
Me, the modern professional, I begged God for a baby. He made me wait. And wait. My friends were scared to tell me they were pregnant. And I still wasn’t ready when the baby finally came. Not because the baby was a problem, but more because I was.
Yeah, kids are the hardest thing you’ll ever do. I fail fourth grade homework, bake cute cupcakes, and drown in little pieces of laundry. I step on Legos in the middle of the night, sacrifice my tv time to X-Box, have no idea what to do with an avalanche of toys, got talked into, not one, but two puppies, and I can sing all the songs to Frozen. But that’s not it.
Ever heard someone say you truly learn about yourself during a crisis? Well, God has designed parenthood the same way. It’s like looking into a magical mirror and watching everything about yourself come up for evaluation. Sure, there’s the dimples, and his eyes and your hair. Oh, she looks like you! No she looks like him?!
But wait, it gets more interesting as they grow. An elementary school kid with my husband’s stubbornness and quietness – a disaster at the dinner table and a challenge at school. Another with my big mouth and desire to eat the world out of sugar? Even worse.
Genetics is something that proves God has a sense of humor. Have a trait you don’t want known? Your kids will show it before you remember to hide it from them. My youngest could manipulate my mother before she was two. The oldest still has my dad eating out of her hand – she is all I was at 10 and more. I’ve even heard him call her by my name. The little one stomps when she’s mad like I do, and the other one cries for dumb reasons, again like me.
One of the hardest things in parenting, and one of the reasons I think many want to forgo it, is the coming to terms with the person you really are. Not the one you tell everyone you are. The REAL you.
It’s hard. It hurts. Not only do you need to teach your kids against what you are in some cases, YOU have to change yourself. And that is much harder than steering the child.
Case in point. I had an unexpected heart attack two years ago. My children, 8 and 6 at the time, now know more about how this happened to diabetic Mommy than some of the nurses that cared for me. And they know what behavior led to it. I now live with health and wellness police. They even convinced me to give up my beloved Diet Coke for Lent. And I’m struggling.
In the end, that all may be good. But what happens when they’re 17? Will they be as weak with boys as I was? Or will they make good choices among their peers when faced with the really hard decisions? The possibilities based on my life at that age, and my husbands as well are the stuff of the old after-school special.
Kids in so many ways are the inspectors of our hearts and intentions. They truly can bring us all closer to God. Considering some of the ideas and practices passing for ok these days, I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised so many younger couples run screaming from the idea of small versions of themselves. I hope they remember that everyone’s life comes to a day of reckoning. I’d rather face it a little everyday while I still have time to make adjustments.