I recently had a conversation with a friend who has been thinking about starting a family. A part of her is excited and expectant about what this new stage of life would bring and another part of her….well, just isn’t so sure about it all.
“Should I really have children when the world is so screwed up?”
Read the news, watch the headlines, listen and grieve the heart-breaking stories of friends and acquaintances and quite quickly the weight of what it is to have a child really can feel too much. There are natural disasters and diseases. There are accidents and those willing to harm. There are devastating acts of rebellion and unrelenting bullying. Is it worth it when the cost, the worry, the fear, the loss, the heartache is so high?
When we were family planning, The Native and I honestly never weighed the decision in those terms. Our questions and fears were more centred on whether we were ready physically and emotionally to give so much to this little person and whether we wanted to “give up” the lifestyle we had built for ourselves. A life that we really did enjoy.
It wasn’t until she was here and I felt the uninhibited love I had for her that I began to fear the reality of seeing her hurt, of feeling her reject me, and worst of all – of losing her. Even thinking about the possibility is unbearable.
So, are we being careless by bringing children into a world that is so full of hurt, hate, disease, crime, and disaster?
Some would say yes and have made a very personal decision not to have children for this exact reason. I do respect that.
Here is why we have had a child and may have more –
Love is an investment of the soul.
When you love ANYONE you risk having your heart broken. Really loving someone requires you to give yourself over to them. Love your parents, love your spouse, or love your child – and you will experience a joy and fullness that is almost incomprehensible. Love them and you also risk experiencing disappointment and sorrow like you have never known. The problem with investing your heart into someone is that you cannot do it without making yourself vulnerable. There is no way around it.
I feel that vulnerability every day. Right now, she is full of life. No one has bullied her, no one has hurt her feelings, no one has physically harmed her (Intentionally! Sorry about that time I elbowed you in the nose, sweetheart. It was the result of a series of unfortunate incidents). Here’s the thing – that day is coming and it hurts like hell to think of it and I cannot spend too much time thinking of any of the rest without spiralling into a totally anxious state. I could speak of hope, protection, how to raise her, and praying that the world gets better, but what it boils down to is this: having her in the world is better than having a world that her little life will never touch.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I would love to hear what you think: Do you think it is unwise or too scary to bring children into the world? If you have children – what influenced your decision? Did you think about this before you got pregnant?