Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why Have Children?

I attended a wedding last June and today I received word of the bride's pregnancy. I stared at a jpeg of the ultrasound in shock. I was surprised at how soon she got pregnant, but I also just felt baffled at the universal, almost without exception, desire of people to have kids. Why do they? At the age of 41, I've had numerous friends, family and acquaintances who've had children and I've had conversations with them about their experiences. From what I hear, being a parent can be a thankless job. Doesn't having babies sap energy, destroy all sleep and maim the social and sex lives? Isn't parenthood expensive and draining and endless? Don't children take over your life and strain your marriage? Don't many parents look back, realize how completely they had no idea what having kids would be like, and feel some regret, at least over the timing? Why do people have children?

Or maybe what I should be baffled by is my failure to comply with one of the strongest instincts we have: the instinct to procreate. When almost the entire population of the planet willingly participates in yielding offspring, how have I managed to resist? Why do I find the desire to have children so incomprehensible?

I just don't get it. I mean, I guess I sort of understand people who inadvertantly end up having a baby. A mistake is a mistake. And I sort of understand, although much less, people who become parents just because that's what everyone else expects of them. But why do people actually make a conscious choice to have kids when life is so much easier without them?

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