I have felt devastated all week about the senseless shooting deaths in Texas. It has made me think about how important children are in my life and what a treasure they are.
I have written previous posts about building a rich, meaningful life. A meaningful life can be service that helps us not focus on ourselves, what my experience was when I felt life wasn’t fair, and enjoying Savor Moments.
Another way to have meaning and purpose in our lives is to value children. Our children have given us much happiness and meaning. When we lived in Belgium as a family, the Belgium government rewarded their citizens through large tax breaks if they had a lot of children because they are at zero population growth. Even with this incentive, people rarely had more than two children. Everywhere we went we got openly stared at. We were a novelty with 5 children–and my youngest hadn’t been born yet. I never got used to being gawked at like that, like we were a freak show being let out of our cages.
During this same time, I remember attending a business dinner with my husband in Denmark, and having a woman incredulously ask me how I could have had, at the time, five children. “That’s like being pregnant for five years!” she sputtered. I remember assuring her that I certainly knew it was five years, but we wanted a lot of children and the family life that came with that decision. She told me, as we continued our conversation, that the Danes didn’t need religion anymore. They had good healthcare and jobs and an amazing social welfare program. She told me that religion was seen as old-fashioned. She couldn’t understand why I had sacrificed to have children and I couldn’t understand how her comfort and leisure were more important to her than having children. What I could appreciate was our conversation and that we could discuss our differences. What I didn’t get into is how much meaning our children had given our lives, and that we as parents didn’t focus on how hard it was raising them, but how worthwhile it was.
Children are seen as too much work, responsibility, expensive, and having to sacrifice too much for, among other things. If you were raised by unhappy people that would also affect your desire to have children. I have watched my oldest daughter with her first, a two-year-old daughter and I get so many texts about how much joy Goldie brings and what a hoot she is. That was my experience–the positive outweighed all of the negatives that can be focused on. Children have made my life so meaningful, even from the hard physical years of giving birth and raising toddlers to the turbulent, emotional work being with my teenagers. Anything worthwhile takes work and effort. Now in my sixties, I would absolutely do it all again and have more children.
Think about the beautiful children in your life and what a treasure they are!