Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why do we have children?

I’ve been thinking a mish-mash of stuff about parenting ever since Tuesday morning when Isaac (my son, and a father of two) sent me the link to a piece by Jennifer Senior in New York magazine called All Joy and No Fun. The subtitle: Why parents hate parenting.

It’s a thoughtful piece which includes a collection of research about parents’ experiences of, and feelings about, being parents. The conclusion appears to be that these days they don’t like the day-to-day experience of it much. 

So what’s the pay-off? In my mind it’s the company of your lovely adult children you like to spend time with, the sense of pride in seeing what lovely human beings they turned out to be, and what loving parents they are. And the other pay-off is – of course – grandchildren.

I know that in the past I’ve compared making a patchwork quilt and knitting a Fair Isle jumper to writing a novel, and now I am thinking that being a parent is like writing a novel and then publishing it yourself. There’s a lot of fun in the early stages and there’s satisfaction and a sense of achievement in the end product but boy is it hard work along the way. There are times that you wonder why you thought it was a good idea – what were you thinking? Is it worth all the worry, the sleepless nights, the huge expense, the fire fighting, the obstacles to be overcome, the problems to be solved? You learn a lot and there are flashes of joy, but there’s no denying it’s bloody hard. 

zoe and lux

Also on Tuesday, I had a lovely lunch with Zoë (my daughter and a mother of two, pictured holding Isaac’s daughter, Lux, a few years ago). She is such a talented and accomplished woman with her sewing, knitting, printing, DIY, design and woodwork, and a multitude of other craftwork, and it made me sad that my mother is not here to see all this. But then I guess my mother got satisfaction from looking at my sibs and me.


p.s. I am lucky to have three wonderful adult “children” but the third prefers to remain unmentioned and anonymous.


Unknown said...

I'm only 5 years in (plus a second at 2 years) but while it is hard and while I do get exasperated at times I feel that, god forbid, if it all ended tomorrow and I never got to see them as adults or had grandchildren that I'd do it again and it would still be worth it. I'm proud of them already, already amazed at the people they are.

So I don't think you need to wait for the pay out.

Sue Hepworth said...

That's really great to hear, Paul. It's wonderful you feel that way - that is not meant to sound patronising at all! I think my mother would have said exactly the same thing. Of course they are amazing when they are young , but I never felt I was a natural mothering type, and I had my children very young and in difficult circumstances, so being a grandmother has been so much more fun. The advantage of having children young is that you have so much more time to spend with your adult children and THEIR children.
Oh, one more thought, you haven't done the teenage bit yet....