I've had a few people ask me why I made the decision to raise children. The question is usually posed when one kid is tantrumming, the other is rolling in mud, and I am holding back tears. So, I get why they may ask this question as it seems like a cause and effect thing: have kids, be stressed. Have kids, sleep less. Have kids, have less money. Have kids, be tired. Have kids, have no free time. Yes, it's true. All of these things are true. Does it suck? Yes, sometimes, wait, no often it does suck that I'm tired, I have less money, I'm stressed and I lack free time. It isn't fun to take a poop to an audience, to have someone throw up in your ear at 3 am, or for someone to kick your shins in the grocery store. There are days that I've been so tired and so overwhelmed that all I can do is cry. There have been years at a time that I've forgotten who I was and have cared less about who I am. I've questioned my logic, my reasoning, every ability I have to be a good parent. It's been the hardest thing I've ever done in my whole life.
Hence, the question, why do it?
If you didn't already know this, I adore the Sex and the City movie. Have you seen it? You should. It's themes run deep with me. As deep as some other, really important and intelligent movies that may run deep with smarty pants people. Anyway, the sweet and talented Jennifer Hudson plays Sarah Jessica Parker's assistant and helps SJP's character, Carrie Bradshaw,return to stability after being left at the alter. (By Big! Spoiler!) There are a number of themes in the movie (I know- it's so deep! Not to mention the fashion!) but the big theme is love. Jennifer Hudson's character is hopeful that she'll find love. She comes to NYC to find love, she returns home for love. Her keychain is the word love. Her password to Carrie's computer, which unlocks tons of famous writer's love letters that Big typed and sent to Carrie, is love. Carrie forgives Big and Big forgives Carrie because of love.
What does this have to do with me having kids? I'm not Carrie Bradshaw and I didn't marry Big and I didn't live happily ever after with expensive shoes, in a big closet, in a penthouse apartment. But, I am in love.
Love. Love, love, love. Love! Writers write about it. Musicians sing about it. We all hope to be in it. We're heart broken when we fall out of it. So, what is it? As usual, I took to the web-o-sphere to find out. Finding a definition was between BuzzFeed and this site: youramazingbrain.org, which says this about love:
"Helen Fisher of Rutgers University in the States has proposed 3 stages of love – lust, attraction and attachment. Each stage might be driven by different hormones and chemicals...The initial stages of falling for someone activates your stress response, increasing your blood levels of adrenalin and cortisol. This has the charming effect that when you unexpectedly bump into your new love, you start to sweat, your heart races and your mouth goes dry...Helen Fisher asked newly ‘love struck’ couples to have their brains examined and discovered they have high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This chemical stimulates ‘desire and reward’ by triggering an intense rush of pleasure. It has the same effect on the brain as taking cocaine!...Fisher suggests “couples often show the signs of surging dopamine: increased energy, less need for sleep or food, focused attention and exquisite delight in smallest details of this novel relationship...And finally, serotonin. One of love's most important chemicals that may explain why when you’re falling in love, your new lover keeps popping into your thoughts."
According to a Guardian article from December 13, 2012, What is Love, was the most searched question on the internet in 2012. The article (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/13/what-is-love-five-theories)gives five perspectives on love from a physicist, a psychotherapist, a philosopher, a novelist, and a nun. They argue it is chemistry, expression of emotion, a passionate commitment and therefore an act and it is the driver of all good stories. I agree with each of these experts who demonstrate that love is multi-faceted and complex. Yet, the expert whose response sums it all up is the nun. She says, "...it seems remote until we encounter it enfleshed, so to say, in the life of another – in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice.The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death. It cannot be bought or sold; there is nothing it cannot face; love is life's greatest blessing."
Let me repeat: "The paradox of love is that it is supremely free yet attaches us with bonds stronger than death." That is why, Dear Questioner of My Sanity, I have chosen to raise children. I have chosen to love several people. I love them so much that I think my heart is going to leap out of my chest. I love them so much that when I think of them, or see them, I feel like I've drank 3 cups of Starbucks coffee. They make me feel like I'm on coke. It's that simple. It's that complicated. I felt this way before I met them. I felt this way the second I saw their tiny bodies and squishy faces. I felt this way when I took them home from the hospital, and every time I nursed them. I felt this way the first time they walked, the first time they said mama, the first time they peed in the potty and the first time they got on the school bus. And I've felt this way every moment in between. I feel this way even when they should go to bed because it is past their bed time or when they color with Sharpies on the wall. That love is still there.
I recently read that the secret to a happy marriage is to fall in love with your spouse all over again each time he or she changes. This applies as well to having kids. I loved them as babies. I loved them as toddlers. I love them as school age and I sure do hope I love them as teenagers. My love for my children deepens as they develop and grow. I have yet to find anything else, chemically, emotionally or philosophically that has had such a significant, positive impact on my life.
This isn't shocking. Many of us are lucky to experience unconditional love whether we are the givers or the receivers. I suppose that is why I am usually a bit befuddled when someone asks me why I chose to raise kids. Isn't it obvious? If it's not, go love someone and you will understand.