I’ve been stewing over a topic for a few months. I’ve had several conversations with different people who are at various stages of their life, and I think I’m about ready to go public with my theory.
It seems to me that the generation of adults coming up behind me, millennials in their late twenties and early thirties, are seriously debating whether they will have children. I’m not referring to a small group of people who are bucking the system; I’m talking about a cultural shift in thinking; a forking in the road of priorities that could change the way we progress as a society.
I realize that after yesterday’s blog, talking about the validity (or importance) of having children is counter-intuitive. Surely, you’ll say, you should steer clear of advising about family planning, Natalie— you don’t have an objective point of view. My parenting experience may taint my opinion, I’ll concede, but not in the way you might expect.
I’m not going to give you a bullet point list outlining the benefits or burdens of being a parent. This is not that blog. In fact, I think weighing up the pros and cons is part of the conundrum.
This blog and the question I’m posting is one that regards suffering or struggle. It is the question of humanity and its progress.
I’ve been asking myself if I could do it all again, would I marry and would I have children? I’ll be completely open here and admit to spending an inordinate amount of time daydreaming that I live by myself. I imagine that I live in a little apartment in some happening city. The apartment is white on white, walls lined with books, and it is forever clean and tidy. I imagine not having to feed another human. I do the things that make me happy; I ‘give back’ to society by caring about current societal needs. I spend my time and money on important things. Where you might ask, is my husband and children in this fantasy? Well, they’re not there. Obviously, they’ve somehow poofed into another dimension where they are happy and loved. I can cross over into this dimension whenever I please, and they will not be adversely affected by my coming and going. It’s my perfect world.
You see, even in my fantasies which naturally point to the conflict I feel about being a wife and mother, even then, I don’t choose to be without my family. I can’t do without them because I’m smart enough to know that I am who I am today because of them.
Am I a better person than I would be if I had no children? Difficult to say, but I would posit a guess— yes. Now don’t go getting all hyper… I’m NOT saying that people who don’t marry or have children are less human or poorer versions of themselves. What I’m trying to say is this: That struggle and strife are evolutionary processes; that God can use suffering to bring about beauty in our nature (I’m not saying God creates suffering, chillax!).
We live in a world where choice is the most common experience. We can choose everything! My concern is, if we go about creating these Designer/Custom Built Lives, we will destroy the essence of what it means to be human.
If we decide who can be born and who can’t; what gender we want to be and for how long; when and how we will die, then perhaps we’re taking evolution into our hands? Are we playing God? I happen to think that each one of these choices on their own is a legitimate option… the fact that we can choose is a good thing. BUT, each one of these choices excludes suffering or struggle.
What will life look like if each one of us made choices that steered us out of the way of conflict? Is a world where all human suffering and struggling has been obliterated, the goal? I mean, ask any Christian, and they’ll tell you it is… heaven is the goal.
I don’t think heaven is the goal. I don’t think the world without conflict is the purpose of humanity. I believe that connection, in spite of struggle is the objective. Being human is to see yourself realized in another. I think, if God is our witness, if we have been made in his image, then having your life complicated by other humans is Devine.
Suffering for suffering sake is stupid. This blog is not a complete thesis on the merits of living ‘a hard life’. For pity’s sake, don’t take my ramblings where they’re not meant to go.
What I’m proposing here is this: Make choices that will further your humanity; choose an authentic human experience… don’t be tempted to avoid struggle. Parenting is about as human an experience as you can get. It’s death by a thousand cuts; it’s a million little moments of humanity.
You get what you pay for in life— sometimes, the currency needed to purchase joy is hardship.