When I was in my 20s I didn’t want kids. I wanted adventure, and found plenty of it in my travels. When – by the grace of God – I lived to reach thirty, I found myself married to a man who was interested in adventure too. So we started our family, which has proven to be the greatest adventure of our lives.
We had kids for a variety of reasons. Some that come to mind are: they are charming, they are very good educational tools and, if you are a creative person, they are the ultimate in creation, and a lasting one at that. Surely the ultimate in creativity is drawing two lives together to make a new one. And you never know what you’re going to get! Blonde, brunette or redhead? Mom’s funny teeth? Dad’s big feet? Athlete? Philosopher? When it comes to the charming part, consider this: charm is not a random event occurring in some kids. It is a true Darwinian survival attribute. If the kids weren’t so darn cute, you’d be tempted to toss them out at 2 a.m. with their pile of smelly diapers and booger-encrusted fist. However, just the sight of a pout or a toothless smile can melt weary heart.
Nothing I learned at school or in my travels could compare with the education I received raising children. Children are mirrors of the soul. They reflect equally the good, the bad, the strong, the weak, the noble and the downright dark parts of each of us. You see, whether you want it or not in this life, you always seem to get what you need. You’re a bit uptight about cleanliness? You’ll either get someone who wears one pair of shorts all summer long (day and night), or “she-Ra the Shower Nut”, who jumps in the shower for 30 minutes when she gets ketchup on her fingers. And that’s the easy grade-school stuff. Wait until you graduate to the tough ones: arrogance, stubbornness, impatience, greed, self deprecation. For any one of these features that you might harbour, there is a child that will embody it so obviously that you will not be able to ignore it. And it won’t go away until you face it – in your child and in yourself.
No, it is definitely not an easy lesson, this other education, but it is by far the most worthwhile of all. For it is with children that one comes to understand the important things in life. What they need and what we need are the Some: love, companionship, nurturing and acceptance.
When I’m in the last half of my life, and I glance across a long table loaded with food in a room filled with laughter, I’ll know the journey that Greg and I undertook was the right one for us, for love once created, never ends.