Labor. Kids. Parenting. Hike!

Not everyone should have kids. Not everyone is kid friendly. I get that and respect that. We all know the planet has enough people. There is no need for us all to be reproducing to populate the earth. My brother is a perfect example. For years, he and his wife have been fairly outspoken in regard to their lack of interest in having children. They hope to retire early, and now enjoy the ability to vacation several times a year and seem to have very full lives with their cat and two (super high maintenance) dogs. They like spending time with kids but like them more when they go home with someone else. And I'm not going to argue with him. I've never tried to convince him to have kids and respect their decision.

They aren't shy about expressing their anti-baby opinion but it must be that they are surrounded by so many expectant parents and new parents that they are beginning to question their decision- at least a little. Recently, my brother pressed me about why I decided to be a parent. I wasn't really sure how to answer him and he seemed to have a response to all the typical answers one might give. "Is it total elation and happiness?" he asked, "Because I've already experienced that three times in my life: Superbowl XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX and the 2004 World Series."

How can you explain to a die-hard New England sports fan that having a baby changes everything, for the better? I'll try to put it in his terms. Think about not being a fan of a team, but actually being on that team. You dreamed about this day. You trained for this day. You practiced long and hard leading up to the big game. You couldn't do it alone. You needed the support of your friends and family, coaches and trainers. You had some setbacks; some good games and some bad games. Some of it was trial and error, some of it intuition. The anticipation leading up to the final game was almost too much to bear. What would it be like? Would you perform to your best? What if you fumbled? But you breathe and focus, rely on your training and your gut and your teammates and you went for it.

Watching your child laugh and smile for the first time, walk, say her first words, try solid foods and of course, poop in the potty, is just like being the quarterback making the touchdown to win the SuperBowl. And the Disney Trip. Parenting is practice, endurance, patience, focus, teamwork and maybe even a little bit of athleticism (hey, labor is not easy!). You are right there, in the middle of the game, calling plays, making decisions and supporting your team. The payoff of parenting is so much better than that big pro-athlete salary, too.

When Caroline climbs her tiny jammy-clad body into my arms and I watch her eyes slowly shut and her breathing become just a wisp, I know that I am experiencing true, pure elation. And I get to experience that feeling every single day of my life. Not just on Superbowl Sunday.

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