There’s a billion reasons not to have children and only one good reason for: Love. And I’m not talking Hollywood love here but the real deal. The love that makes women lift cars, take bullets, fight evil grown men (plural) single handedly or become supernaturally empathetic when it comes to their kids. The Love with a capital ‘L’ that leaves you physically and emotionally broken and you don’t even mind.
Why I’m so philosophical?
So, this weekend we’ve had a discussion at my parent’s home about the question why the hell would anyone in this world get children even though there’re so much more reasons not to have one? And isn’t “getting children” awfully egoistic from a logical point of view?
Fact is, this world is a mess. There’s murder, rape, war. Not to mention diseases, natural disasters, nuclear weapons and power station (that explode at times and leave whole countries a mess). Who are you to decide that someone else has to suffer through idociy of mankind? Also, there’s the fact that children are exhausting. They cost money, the cost nerves and eventually a few of my own years of life, I’m sure. Mostly what you get in return is sleepless nights and dirty diapers. Later in life it’s going to be temper tantrums, ruined furniture/clothes/carpets/etc. And then there’s puberty. Let’s not forget puberty when your kid HATES you just for being alive. And when your kid is a grown up and (hopefully) finally appreciates what you did for him/her, your kid moves away and begins a life of its own. Shiny!
When I was born in the GDR you actually had advantages in terms of financial benefits. Today, you still get child benefits for every child. It’s not much but it’s the thought that counts. Of course there’s not just a small group of women/families abusing this money and YES, that’s a major case of egoistic.
But generally speaking: Is having kids egoistic?
Let’s presume you’re not getting pregnant due to an accident. This means you’re having kids because you want to.
You want to have a kid because you can care for it. Because it’s there and you have someone to give your love to and when you’re old (and lucky) your kid returns the favor. You feed it, you raise it, you entertain it and you teach it. You obviously have a certain idea or vision about how your life will be with a baby. You’re hoping for something to happen that makes your life better, right? But what’s in it for you precisely besides having stress and work and the imminent danger of private insolvency? Come on, let’s face it, the logical necessity of producing kids is pretty much nonexistent. Except maybe in case you want a kid because the poor dude can help you work on the farm. O_o
And this is where only a mother can speak up. How do you explain the love you feel for your child? How do express the impact it makes in your life? It’s impossible. I’ve tried to put it in words so my sister can understand what I’m talking about but, damn, that’s hard.
I have constant butterflies in my stomach when I look at. Just look at her. Today, all day long the only thing I wanted was a few minutes for myself but now that my wish has been fulfilled (she’s asleep in her crib) I want to look at her every few minutes to make sure she’s still there. It’s a never ending struggle between being a 24/7 mommy and still staying myself. She’s only two months old but every day she learns something else. Something she couldn’t do yesterday and my heart explodes with pride and melancholy because I feel like this is way too fast. She’s my baby but I still have no control whatsoever about her. Not really. Not when it comes to her personality, her thoughts and her feelings. All I can do is helping her with all I have. Cloth her, carry her, cuddle and kiss her. Put her to bed when she’s tired and sing her lullabies to calm her down. Feeding her is what heaven must feel like. Her huge eyes are always open, never blinking and she stares at me with wonder and absolute trust that makes me melt like goo and scares me shitless at the same time.
When she smiles it’s all emotion. There’s no second thought in that smile – no spite, no ambiguity. Just that. A smile that is how it’s supposed to be. Serene and given in earnest.
How can I deserve something so wonderful even though I’m just a human being? Am I doing it right? What if I’m doing it wrong? What if I fail miserably? How can I even think about enjoying this when her future is so damn unclear. I’m not even sure she (or I) live through next week? I could get hit by a car and she’d grow up motherless. The same applies to her. What if she’s getting a disease and the only thing my sacrificial motherhood causes is pain and a too early death? These thoughts are so damn painful I usually just put them in the back of my mind. But I DO have them, I can’t turn them off. Only a few days ago I thought about the myth that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 and I started to calculate how old she’d be and how much she’d miss in her life. Yes, I’m masochistic like that.
But that’s what motherhood feels like. It doesn’t complete you and can’t fix you. And if you think it would, that’d be egoistic. But the truth is, having a baby is a profound change in your life and it will rip you apart and put the parts back together, no more and no less. A painful and rather annoying process that’ll last for the rest of your life and my only hope is that it’s getting easier… which it won’t I know. But I can still hope, right? :-)
So no! Having a baby has got nothing to do with egoism. Indeed, it’d be very egoistic not to enjoy this kind of love. The relationship between mother and daughter (at least as far I can see it) depends on this kind of emotional conversation. A constant giving and taking. Like some kind of symbiosis where one creature depends on the other one and vice versa.
You can expect everything of your kid and you’ll surely go through every kind of emotion there is. Regret, jealousy, frustration, anger, pain… and love, so much love that no matter how weary you are or exhausted or devastated, one smile of your baby and it’ll be all worth it.
Oh, and just to make it clear: it took me four days and a x-ty billion diaper/nursing/sleeping/takingwalks/docsappt-breaks to write this text. I feel majorly accomplished.