Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Baby Buts

Families with babies and families without babies 
are sorry for each other.  ~Ed Howe

I am feeling extremely pro-baby today. That, my friends, is likely because my own personal baby is sleeping in this morning!

We get asked a lot about having all these kids. Why? How? Seriously?

There are a few things I believe about parenthood choices:

1. There is not a perfect number of children to have (or a perfect way to space them). There are advantages to having six, three, two, none. And I never question the size of anyone's family because I know there are a thousand reasons why we get what we get. 
2. There's no ideal time to start a family (or add to it). It is possible to plan your way out of a whole lot of joy if you are not open to some surprises.
3. The way our society views "having kids" is precariously close to the same way we view "having pets" or "starting projects". We want what we want, when we want it, how we want it. Maybe it started with the pioneers who needed a slew of children to work the crops? Or maybe it's a more modern mindset as the success of any given American kid is seen as a statement about the parents who are raising him or her? Not sure. But it really bothers me.

Here are the most common reasons people share with me about why they don't have more (or any) children. Let me say that I TOTALLY get these reasons. And I TOTALLY get the "buts" as well.

You're thinking about having a baby...

but you don't have enough money
but you need a bigger car
but the world is a horrible place
but you need to lose some weight first
but you don't function well without sleep
but there are already too many people on the planet
but you want to see the world first
but it would interfere with your career

Why yes, that's true.

but there is no such thing as enough money--for you, for a couple, for one or two or six children.
but driving a sedan or (brace yourself) a minivan can be really cool--in an ironic sort of way.
but someone's child wins the Nobel Peace Prize every year. And lots of other people's children do millions of things to promote peace every single day in ways that only they could do.
but if you want to be a healthy person there are few things that will motivate you more than a little person depending upon you (Don't believe me? Run a 10K this weekend and see who are the toughest competition --moms.)
but it's empowering to discover just how little sleep on which you are capable of surviving. Plus infomercials are really entertaining.
but if you really believe natural resources are worth more than human beings, then put your conviction into actions that will matter far more than simply having one less person on earth (i.e. drive a lot less, eat a lot less, and plug in your electronics a lot less too).
but you should get busy seeing that big world and figure out where the finish line is.
but no one multi-tasks like a parent. Get your motivation on straight and this can benefit you at work even as you simultaneously realize that career success is not the biggest prize.

It's contentious, this population-control/pro-life or pro-choice/contraception/do I even want to be a parent? debate. There is a whole lot of understandable emotion on the part of everyone. I think that's good...babies should make us feel something.

Just one last thing. Here's a baby but(t) that should make everyone smile:


  1. Interesting post...made me think (and smile, of course). I've probably used all those reasons and more for NOT having kids. Probably mostly because I feel that I'm already failing in so many areas of life because I don't devote enough time--being a good daughter, being a good wife, being a good friend,etc. I don't know how you do it with kids...even one, let alone a Bartee size family. But at this point, if I get surprised, I'll go with it...after being studied endlessly for being a medical miracle.

  2. That comment made me think (and smile) too. Can't wait to hang out with you this week!