There are some who feel a calling toward parenthood from their very first baby doll, and there are some who never feel the desire to have kids. And there are some people who fall anywhere and everywhere in between. I think I always felt as though someday I would be create my own version of a family unit. Those of us called into parenthood, whether by choice or chance, all have our own reasons and drives that propel us into the grand adventure of raising children.
If I were to write about the nobler things that made me want to become a parent, I could write about how I wanted the opportunity to create citizens of the world and nurture individuals who are capable and worthy of inheriting the earth from the previous generations. I might say that I aspire to send forth progeny who will cure disease, feed the hungry, and create peace. To be given the chance to help shape a person who will, in turn, make the world a better place, this is a gift, and one that I take seriously.
However, if I were to write about the more selfish reasons that made me want to become a parent, I may mention my desire to create the family life I missed as a child. I could say that, by creating and strengthening my relationships with my husband and children, I may be able to heal the gaps left from a less-than-perfect childhood home. By being a parent, I have the opportunity to try to make the family I want. I might admit that there is something thrilling, something validating, in being loved by my children. And, although I did not fully fathom the depths of it before having children, the love I feel towards them is a treasure: beautiful and shiny.
And all of the above is true, more or less, but there are five other reasons that, if I am honest with myself and with you, gentle reader, lured me into becoming a parent:
1. The food. I love macaroni and cheese. There, I said it. And grilled cheese. I love food in cute shapes. And I loooove sprinkles. I figured having a kid would allow me—nay, force me—into close proximity to these treats. Having a child means a birthday cake (or other frosting-laden item) at least once a year, right? With two kids, my frosting intake is allowed to double. If I include the birthday parties of other people’s children, my exposure to sprinkles and icing multiplies exponentially! Woot!!!
2. The stickers. I’m not sure what pleasure drive is satiated by the peeling off a sticker and placing it somewhere, but man, do I like to use stickers! It is the reason I do not pay bills online, since stamps these days are just expensive stickers that I am allowed to stick places. I suppose I could have become a grade-school teacher so I could have 30 spelling tests a week upon which to put stickers, but I figured it would just be easier to have kids. We now have stickers everywhere! On the walls, on the Tupperware, on the training potty. And I never do a load of laundry without pulling out a few sticker victims from the lint trap. It’s awesome. My life is full of little spots of color!
3. The holidays. Somewhere between high school and college, the holidays lost a bit of their sparkle for me—and I was one of those kids who continued to dress up for Halloween well into my teens. Who knows what the neighbors thought as my friends and I, dressed as the entire cast from Peter Pan, went door to door singing “I Won’t Grow Up”? At some point, things like trick-or-treating, egg hunts, and visiting Santa faded from my holiday experiences and were replaced, mainly, with wine. But I wanted some of that excitement back, without being creepy, so I had kids. I have new motivation for decorating and celebrating. It’s all new to them, and I want them to feel that excitement. And truly, experiencing holidays though the eyes of my children has brought the magic back.
4. The literature. Yes, I could read Dr. Seuss on my own. Yes, I could read Captain Underpants in my bed before falling asleep. There is academic criticism on all types of children’s books and young adult literature, so enjoying the genre without having kids was certainly an option. But I like having my children be a part of it. It is, and will increasingly be, a way for me and my children to share common experiences. I can’t wait until they are old enough for Harry Potter books, for The Last Unicorn, for Pride and Prejudice. Reading is good for my kids, and for me, and I like having the excuse to go and fill our shelves with shared adventures. OK, so maybe I just like buying books…
5. The fun. Having kids allows me, on a regular basis, to jump on a trampoline, go to the park and slide, and dress up and pretend to be a cat or a princess or an astronaut. This morning I was a flamingo. I can sing silly songs and dance silly dances. I get to build pillow forts. I can paint and color and glue and glitter. And, unlike doing all these things with and for adults, it doesn’t matter how good I am at it when I’m around my kids. It really is all about having fun. And also about killing time until the mac ‘n’ cheese is ready…