Selfless {What parenthood teaches us}


I recently had a “friend” on Facebook post this article entitled, “Silly Things People Have Said to Me When I Tell Them I’m Not Having Kids.” I saw the title and intriguingly clicked away, thinking it must be some tounge-and-check piece where they say they are sad, frustrated, mad, etc. that they haven't had kids yet. To my surprise, that was not what I found.  As I scrolled down, I found myself gasping.  So much so that my husband asked “What are you reading?” 

"This crazy article on people who dont want kids! You've got to read it,” I responded.  He read with far less gasps, and we chatted about it for a minute.  But I couldn't get it out of my head.

Throughout the article, she tells of how she has always known she didn't want children.  That it was a deal breaker for her in many relationships.  She goes on to list the “silly” things people have said to her regarding her desire to not have children, and it’s all really the same message over and over.  A message she sums up in this line:

“I need my sleep much more than I need children. Does that sound selfish? That's probably because it is! Which is probably one of the top reasons I shouldn't enter into parenthood in the first place.”

Yeah, probably true, you probably aren’t ready to be a parent.  What surprised me the most in this article is her acceptance and desire to remain selfish! 

I think back to my earlier years, granted I entered into married life and motherhood quite young, but I can very vividly remember my younger, more selfish self.  Our Western culture is very status, wealth and possession driven.  For me, stepping into my vocation at a young age was a defiance of those cultural ideals.  The same stupid ideals I saw praised in this article.

Really more sleep!  That’s whats going to make you happy and fulfilled?!!  Sleep?!

Okay, I get it… I’ve been sleep deprived.  Maybe I’m even writing this sleep deprived, but I think I echo every mama who's part of our A Mama Collective community when I say I WOULD NEVER TRADE MY CHILDREN FOR MORE SLEEP, MORE MONEY OR MORE THINGS THIS WORLD HAS TO OFFER!!!  The gifts of a child are far more than one can imagine.  It’s the never-ending gift of love.

Let me end with quotes from one of my more favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan.  He’s a family friendly guy who is hillllllarrrriious!  Like the almost pee your pants kind of funny!  He and his wife have 5 kids and live in the Bowery section of Manhattan.  Talk about counter-cultural!  He often jokes about life with 5 kids, but in a way that us parents joke about already.  He recently wrote a book called Dad is Fat (affiliate link), and these excerpts sum up what parenthood, marriage and sacrificial life can really teach us.

“Getting married and becoming the father of young children has taught me that I am a narcissist. The good news is that I am a really great, really important, and really special narcissist. I lived my life as a single man, and even for a few years into parenthood, just looking out for number one.” As a result, he says, “My perceived needs were all-important. When it came to my career, relationship, or taking the last piece of pizza, I was only thinking about myself. And, of course, the pizza.”

“I watch the faces of single people in their twenties after I bring up that I ‘have children.’ I imagine them taking a small step backward as if to avoid contagion, with a look of ‘Sorry to hear that’ on their face. Like I naively volunteered to contract leprosy, forever quarantining myself from the world of having fun by having children.”

“Well, why not (have more children)? I guess the reasons against having more children always seem uninspiring and superficial. What exactly am I missing out on? Money? A few more hours of sleep? A more peaceful meal? More hair? These are nothing compared to what I get from these five monsters who rule my life. I believe each of my five children has made me a better man. So I figure I only need another thirty-four kids to be a pretty decent guy. Each one of them has been a pump of light into my shriveled black heart. I would trade money, sleep, or hair for a smile from one of my children in a heartbeat. Well, it depends on how much hair.” 

And that is exactly what I wish the world knew.  That the joy, the love, the amazing pride of raising a precious child is far better than a life of selfish desires.  Far, far better!!