by Elise Ellsworth
“I know a good urologist you could visit.” After a few children my husband got this advice from a young male friend. And I must admit that as I embarked on marriage I had adopted the prevailing opinion at my university that having children too soon or having too many were detrimental decisions to avoid. I scorned those who had children soon after marriage. I was on a career track and looking forward to a life of Ann Taylor suits and high-powered lunches.
So, why am I now the mother of a large family who wears sweatpants and a t-shirt and eats peanut butter and jelly most days?
Reason #1: My mother. My mother loved children. She loved me. She gave up her career for a life of peanut butter and jelly too. I wanted what my mother had. My mother once commented as she observed a mother with a large family that in her observation mothers of large families were very happy.
Reason #2: My mother-in-law. My mother in law was the mother of eight. Her cell phone was always ringing, even after her children were raised. Child number one or child number four would be calling to ask for help with a college paper to get advice on their career. And she was there with encouraging words and a humorous touch. I wanted a cell phone that was not silent when I was in my fifties.
Reason #3: My faith. Children are everything to God. They are His. They were important to Jesus. I often think of the Christian scripture “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me” as I nurture my children.
Reason #4: My love of family history. Strange as it may seem as I trace family trees I notice a pattern. Large families abound in my family tree. They do in yours too. Furthermore, I can’t think of any of my direct-line ancestors who were childless (go figure).
Reason #5: Working with the elderly. I have done a lot of volunteering at nursing homes. It doesn’t take long to determine that elderly people are better taken care of if they have children. And those who had no children generally have few if any visitors.
I acknowledge that there are those who cannot marry or have children. I have had some wonderful teachers, friends and relative who have been unable to have children. I love, respect, and admire them. This article is not addressed to them but to people who are choosing the child-free life.
I recently read an article entitled “16 Reasons Why Being Child-Free is Awesome.” I found it rather humorous. The reasons for being child-free included being able to leave the house quickly (yup, not going to argue with that one), being able to operate on a schedule (sounds blissful), and being able to swear freely (let’s just say I don’t know if the child-free have the corner on the market here).
On the contrary I also found some really great evidence that having children improves quality of life, mental health, blood pressure (this one was a surprise), and even overall happiness (after 40). I would like to add some benefits that I have discovered as a mother: never being bored, constantly trying new things and solving new problems, a tremendous sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in the positive choices made by my children, and lots and lots of hugs.
So my advice? Welcome children. Enjoy them. Cherish them. They are an investment worth any sacrifice.