The other day a friend of mine asked me what might seem to be a simple question—is having kids worth it? Would she be missing out if she didn’t take the plunge?
My answer was yes, having a baby is worth it. Yes, I would do it again. In a heartbeat, in fact. But does the joy of having children really outweigh all the hassle and stress that being a parent brings? I’d say it does—but I really couldn’t give my already overworked, overtired and over-scheduled friend any good reasons why.
I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I’m still struggling to put it into words. Here’s a handful of the reasons I’ve come up with so far.
Kids remind you what joy is. As adults, we have joyful moments—but most are shadowed with at least a little doubt or self consciousness. But babies? Experience happiness with 100 percent of their body and soul, holding nothing back. As a parent, you get the benefits of all their secondhand joy (I think it makes up for all the secondhand smoke we breathe).
One word. Toys. I’m not sure how old I was when I decided all my Barbies and My Little Ponies were for babies, but I remember being very sad about leaving them behind. But now I get to play with all my favorite toys all over again. And you know what? Play dough smells just as good as I remember.
Kids remind you what’s really important. There was a time when I lived for my job. If things were going badly at work, well, life was going badly. Now my career is just one part of my life. And knowing my daughter thinks I rock even if a client fires me or my boss tells me I suck? Well, it makes all the rest of it a little easier to bear (and her diaper bill reminds me why I need to get paid).
Then there’s the love. How do you describe it without being cheesy? I can’t. I’ve tried. It’s visceral and all-consuming. It’s overwhelming and earth shattering. It gives everything a whole new meaning—and you a new reason for being. It simply has to be experienced to be believed.
And let’s not forget, having a kid is the best way to ensure someone will be there to change your diapers when you’re old. And really, you don’t want to have to do that yourself.
What would you tell her, dear readers? Is having a baby worth it? Or is child-free the way to go?