Last year sometime I got together with a bunch of gals from my hometown. Most of us hadn’t seen each other in years. Some were married, some not. Some had kids, some not. As the night progressed, the ladies with kids tended to congregate together to discuss the gamut of kid topics (public tantrum stories, sleep training, power struggles, etc etc). I joined right in, chiming in with my kids’ antics. After a while one of the married with no kids ladies said, “Sheesh, I don’t think I ever want kids.” The comment was made in jest and no one thought anything of it, but for some reason it stuck with me.
All too often we moms get together (online, in person, whatever) and the conversation naturally tends to flow toward things that drive us crazy about our kids (I’m the worst perpetrator). Sometimes I think this is absolutely necessary to keep your sanity as a mom. It can be unbelievably helpful to vent with other moms and hear that there are others out there whose kid won’t eat anything that’s not the color white, whose baby is not the only one not sleeping through the night. It makes you feel less lonely and less of a failure. However, there are often others hearing these conversations and like my friend thinking, “That whole parenthood thing does not sound like much fun. Why do people do that?”
One more story before I answer that question: I recently had my third child and boy howdy has he been a hard one. Crying? Big fan. Sleeping more than two hours at a time? Not such a fan. He’s now four months old and things have calmed down quite a bit, but for a while there, it was all I could do to talk about anything other than my colicky situation. A good friend of mine who has two kids often got the brunt of these venting sessions and one day said, “You know. We’ve been talking about whether or not we want a third and honestly your situation is making me lean toward no.”
This made me feel terrible. Truly. All too often I told her about the crying, the lack of sleep, the constant juggling of the needs of my other two kids. But what I didn’t tell her was how my heart melts every time I go to pick my little guy up from his nap and he gives me the biggest smile. Or how my oldest daughter has this special knack for making him belly laugh and the times the three of us can’t stop laughing together are often the best moments of my day. Or how every time Rich comes home and I see his face light up to see his son and make him smile, my own heart expands. Or how when my two year old wakes up in the morning and asks “where’s wittle buddy? Tan I hold him?” it makes it all worth it.
I’ve since told my friend these things and she said, “Oh, I know! I’m a mom.” Of course- she has a million of these little moments stacked up for herself. But not everyone does. They can imagine I’m sure (everyone’s seen Life is Beautiful right?) But I just want to make a case for kids for those on the fence about this whole kid thing (and also to publicly appease my conscience for those I’ve unwittingly turned against having kids or more kids (which I probably do every time we go to the mall where tantrums are frequent and fervent).
Kids are worth it. Spouses are worth it.
Both take a lot of work, but are definitely worth it. They are worth it because they bring the deepest, most satisfying kind of happiness this world can provide- the kind that comes from forgetting yourself and giving yourself completely to somebody else. It happens when you get married. It happens when you have kids.
A husband and kids have let more happiness into my life in the aggregate absolutely. But it’s not just day-to-day drudgery for some abstract sense of overall happiness (as you would maybe think hearing of how hard a mom’s day is). Day-to-day can be hard, absolutely, but there are a million little moments of pure bliss sent straight from heaven where your heart just wants to explode, that it’s worth it in the day-to-day also.
This morning I came back from a run in a bit of a pouty mood since I had woken up early with Lennon and didn’t get to go back to sleep. I was wondering how I was going to make it through the day being so tired and then I noticed my girls playing this game they had just made up called “ding ding” where one of them bangs a comb back and forth against the posts of our chair and the other one claps and dances on one of the couch cushions they had pulled off onto the floor, then they switch. Watching them wiggle their little bodies and giggle with each other made me laugh in spite of myself. They lifted my spirits out of self-pity.
Yesterday, I went to get Ivy up from her nap, but she was still so grumpy I was thinking she maybe needed to go back to sleep for a little bit, so I took her out of her crib and cuddled with her on Ellia’s bed. She immediately curled up into me and fell back asleep. Watching her little face asleep in my arms- it felt like magic.
When my two youngest were napping, I read a book with Ellia. She was wearing a dress and I loved the feel of her soft bare legs, making her seem younger than she is. At one point in a silly moment of the book she turned and gave me her sweet Ellia smile and I loved her so much in that moment.
Like I said I noticed more of these moments than normal because I was looking for them, but they still happen enough to make all the bodily secretions, frustrating power struggles and exhaustion more than worth it. My heart is 4 times bigger since making room for Rich, Ellia, Ivy and Lennon. I have less time to think about my own problems since I need to work out theirs. Selflessness and service bring true happiness.
Maybe reading these things will help someone. But if not, it helped me to write them down to remember to make a case for my own kids 🙂