Random Musing: Why we have kids

This post has nothing to do with anything, but the other night I was hit so powerfully with a conviction and I just had to share it.  It literally came to me while I slept.  In my dream, I'd been visiting a harried friend with two rambunctious kids.  

I've never really understood why it is that humans continue the widespread practice of having children.  I recognize this internal thing that most of us are born with that makes us yearn to procreate; that can't be denied. Way back throughout most of history, people didn't question this yearning. And it's not like there were a whole lot of other options, anyhow. If you were "doing it," at some point you were likely to get pregnant, and you'd have the kid; end of story.

But in modern times, there are tons of options to prevent pregnancy, and people are different.  We don't blindly accept fate anymore.  We still feel the inner tug to procreate, but in today's society, it's perfectly acceptable to slap it aside. And when you look at it logically, every fiber of our left brain activity should be screaming at us to take all measures necessary to avoid getting pregnant.

It makes no logical sense whatsoever to have children. 

They're expensive, they consume your every free moment for a good long while (even into adulthood if you're a parent like mine are), and children are the source of unbelievable amounts of anxiety. All of us who have had children, of course, know that the intangibles of parenthood make it all worth it.  We can no longer imagine our lives without them, but there's no way you can understand this ahead of time.  So before the little darlings have a chance to suck you in, why even give them the chance? And yet so many of us continue to get willingly, and very often willfully, knocked up. 


There's the spiritual, God's plan, side to it, and I very much adhere to that, however, in this day and age, for parenthood to continue to be such a popular chosen lifestyle, there has to be a communion of the logical and the spiritual going on.  What I want to understand is what's driving the logical side. 

Now back to that dream.  In it, I didn't have children yet, but I left that house convinced that I could do better than my friend was doing with  hers.  If you don't have kids yet, admit it---that happens to you all the time.  And I'll admit that before I had kids, I most definitely observed the way that other people handled their children and was convinced that, given the chance, I would do much better. And after I had kids, I know for a fact that my parenting skills were being judged by others; I could feel it. So I propose that it is the joining of the competitive side of human nature with the spiritual that leads us to have children.

We want to prove that we can do better than all those before us. 

Naturally, we can't.  But try telling that to us before we're plunged into the middle of it, watching ourselves make bad decision after bad decision.  But go ahead, keep making those mistakes with your kids, and out in the open too---for the sake of humanity!  We need childless couples to watch you and become convinced that they can do better, so that they too will plunge willingly into the abyss... suckers.


Jan Morrison said...

Hi Nicki - just noticed you came over to my site, Crazy Jane - thanks! This is a brilliant essay. I think you've figured it. I am, by the way, mother to two grown-ups - 40, 38; stepmother to two teens - 15,17; and host mother to a 16 year old from Berlin. I apparently never remembered the teen years as I keep on trying to repeat them - I meant the 'mothering of teens' years. Argghh! I want to prove it to MYSELF that I can do better. But I can't. I resign...whoops too late, in to far.

Nicki Elson said...

Hi! Thanks so much for commenting on this post. I sort of put it up on a whim and wasn't sure how it would go over. Glad that at least one person thinks I'm on to something. ;) I admire you for going in for round two! I'm sure you're doing a great job.

I'm heading in for round one---my baby girl started high school this year. And I'm sure all my many theories on parenting teens are about to go right down the toilet...

fallen monkey said...

I was definitely "that" childless person who always assumed I could do better...until I got married and became scared shitless with procreation more realistically on the horizon. Now I don't look at parents in judgment, just relief that it's not my reality yet...

But that's because I couldn't dare expect that I'd get children nearly as sweet as my sister's :).

Nicki Elson said...

hahaha, I can't believe you found this one, Monkey! Yeah, when it becomes more real, not so easy. And I agree, your sister's children are tough acts to follow. ;)