This is a response to Gwen Bell’s recent FOR Kid-Free Living post. You might want to read it first and then come back here to see why she’s in part wrong, and in part misguided.
I came to the whole parenthood game late in my life. For a good while I had come to the conclusion that I would not have children.
But then, after meeting somebody who I felt secure enough to try to have a child with I decided to take a risk. Had I not felt secure enough in committing to be with this person, whether or not we became parents, the I would not have felt secure enough to take that risk.
Creating babies is full of risk. Birth defects, problems, health issues, financial worries. But committing (as Gwen Bell is apt to say when talking about code), is good for me as a person. Discipline is good.
So when I hear the arguments used to justify kid-free living as something that is to be looked up to, I feel compelled to argue the points.
- Quiet can be more appreciated after times of noise. Also, there is beauty in the oh-so-subtle noises of listening to a child breathing whilst asleep in your arms.
- Uninterrupted work-time. The best way to learn to radically focus and do good work, is to be a parent who only has small amounts of time available. You cannot be lazy and have the luxury of slack work practice.
You can buy things for yourself guilt-free. You still can as a parent, but you can also buy things for another human being, in an equally guilt-free manner.
Limited space? No problem. OK, I’ll give a bit here. Kids need runaround space. But, there is a whole world outside and with a good pair of wheels, it is your oyster.
I don’t have to put a child’s needs before my own. Actually learning to put another person’s needs before your own on occasion is a growth opportunity.
Mimimalism and kids are incompatible. Well, maybe in a Western, hipster minimalist ideal this is true, but then again, there are many flavours of minimalism, just as there are many people choosing to live with less, who don’t need to subscribe to the minimalist label.
I don’t think that far ahead. Nor do I. One day at a time and a little bit of rainy day planning is sufficient.
I don’t need to procreate to meet my own needs for meaning and purpose. I did not procreate for these reasons either. At the end of the day, this little person I have brought into the world will go his own way. But, by being forced to widen my horizons and step out of my kid-free comfort zone, to accept the responsibility for this little person and to commit for the long-term, I have found a higher meaning and purpose to my life. And for this I am extremely grateful.
Being a parent is not easy. Particularly not an older one. I have never been more tired in my life. The kind of tired that does not disappear after one good night’s sleep.
I’m tired and more worried about providing a good future and life for my family.
But I also have had the most amazing highs, moments of purest joy and the absolute privilege of watching a child develop and begin to turn into a little person.
I take no personal pride in this, I am no better or worse than the next man. But I do feel very very grateful and thankful to being a Dad.
Agree? / Disagree? – Let me know in the comments or on Twitter