You might be surprised at the number of people who land on my blog every day after Googling variations on "Reasons to Have Kids."
It all started back when I wrote this post.
I had read about a book called No Kids: Forty Good Reasons Not to Have Children and I dashed off a response that consisted of forty reasons to have them. Not forty reasons as in, "I'd like to start a serious discussion about having children vs. not having children," but rather forty reasons as in, "I have nothing else to blog about today and my kids? I love 'em awful. I'll blog forty reasons to have them."
However, blogging is never that simple. After the initial and cheering support from friends and other Catholic moms, the post became a common Google result and another kind of comment started to roll in. (But, hey, kids of my friends and friends of my kids -- check with your moms before you read it. Some of the commenters get a bit rude.) Which is fine. I can take it. I welcome discussion -- not soundbites, and not meaningless debate, which is unfortunately the kind of debate that tends to happen in comboxes, but real conversation.
But why am I bringing this up now? Because the conversation fascinates me in myriad ways. We live in a world with a number of options that weren't available to our parents and grandparents. "To have or not to have" was not a question for most of human history but contraception has made it one. But there's more to my interest than that.
Having once been on the "childfree by choice" side of the issue, I'm interested in how we can talk about this without accusations and anger. Because, on one hand, I know what it feels like to not want children, and to feel like a freak for that choice. I remember the way other women looked at me with suspicion, the way people assumed I was a selfish oaf. Now that I have children, I can see that even though I was not a selfish oaf (I don't think ...) actually having children to care for has made me unselfish in ways I could never have aniticipated.
So, that's one aspect I'd love to explore more in writing -- how we can simply talk about this without alienating each other.
The other thing I want to talk about is faith -- it plays a huge role. Obviously, being a Catholic who lives by the teachings of the Church (no artificial birth control) has changed me. (If I were twelve years old, I'd say "duh" here ....) But the very fact that it comes back to a faith discussion is also key.
When we go searching for reasons to have kids, we often want to make a "pros and cons" list. We want to weigh profit and loss, decide which choice offers the biggest gain. That sort of thinking was bittersweetly summed up in an old movie called Kramer vs. Kramer. A moving scene shows Dustin Hoffman's character evaluating the reasons that might make it "worth it" to fight for custody of his son. The "pro" side of his list is short and abstract (I can't remember for certain -- does he write anything on the "pro" side?) The concrete "cons" are lengthy. Abstraction wins. Mr. Spock might not be happy with the logic, but anyone who has ever felt any kind of love will get it.
Human relationships just can't be confined to a P & L analysis.
These are just some rambling thoughts on some ideas I hope to expound on in some posts to come.