Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why have children?

Ain’t that a tough one? Why? From my manly, defensive, 5 feet and 8 inches stance on life I’ll start by saying what would be the wrong reasons. 

Not because “it’s time.” Why? Because I don’t believe in this arbitrary “it’s time” – it only flies in the morning fresh bun queue at some small-town mom-and-pop shop between gossiping neighbors. It’s time when it happens. No sooner. No later. It’s only time, when it’s time. Zacharias, an otherwise righteous, even “blameless” man, doubted that “it was time” and just for that was confined to email and text messages for communication, until his son, The Baptist, was born. Until it was proven to him, that it was time. It’s time when it happens.

Not because X and Y already have two. Or three. Friends. Siblings. Cousins. Mother-in-law’s best friend’s second niece’s tennis partners who are the same age as you; or, worse yet, four years younger. Not because e v e r y b o d y has them. Not because your high school homeroom nemesis just posted online a bunch of photos with a stroller and a little poop-machine in it. Not because they fly free for the first two years, anyways, and you get to board first, together with the paraplegics and the amputees. Not because you could hang the “baby on board” sign (instead of “watch out for Kangaroos for the next 25km”), or to get the priority seat on the tube. Not to finally put a stop to the suspicious looks from that lady in 3B, you know, the one in her early two-hundreds, the one with her late husband’s WWII binoculars in a leather holster strapped next to her O2 tank, neighborhood watch on her speed dial and a do-it-yourself evidence collection toolkit attached permanently to her walker, in case somebody drops the Twinkies wrapper in the hallway. You don’t do it to be like others, or like others expect.

Not to complete a picture. Because all other pieces of the puzzle are already there: the house, two cars, a Labrador, a lawn mower, a vintage motorcycle in a messy garage, a framed in real oak imitation diploma on the wall, a barbeque in the back yard, and a timeshare in Ft. Lauderdale. No. And they’re not, actually. Not for me, for us, anyways. Our puzzle starts with three beating hearts, one going about 150 per minute, and as tiny as it may be, it fills our picture in its entirety. But I know that for some, all these things are the prerequisite. For some, that’s what it all boils down to: possession. Yet another possession. After all, it’s having children. Not leasing with an option to buy. Dressing them up. Showing them off. Sending them off for piano lessons, even if they’re tone-deaf – ‘cause, after all, they’re yours and YOU want it. Bragging about them as if they were a 60” l-e-d l-c-d h-d-t-v (m-o-u-s-e!) or whatever-else-bites-me… you know – another something super cool. Shiny roadster. Pair of Prada high heels. Or some gizmo with a touch screen and a lower-case “i” in front of its name. You don’t do it to expand possessions. In the day and age where all we supposedly have can be taken away in a heartbeat by banks, collection agencies, the tax man, and thieves (I could actually use just one word here, couldn’t I?), in times when, thanks to medical advancement, we understand more than ever before how easily and unpredictably we can transition from having a heartbeat to not having one, you would think we should better understand that we don’t really own anything. Not even ourselves. Most certainly not another life. Today more than ever we should be intimate with John’s vision (in this case Lennon’s, not the Baptist’s) – that there’s no possession. Not really, anyways.  And yet… look around you. People have a number of kids to match the number of bedrooms in their house. You know, the one made of drywall, two-by-fours and aluminum siding, owned by the bank (and if it’s paid off just try and not pay property tax on it for a couple of years and see how “yours” it still is) and susceptible to tornadoes like an unattended jar of candy to a five year old. That is not a good reason for having a child, either. 

You don’t do it because your other half wants it. You don’t do it to appease. NEVER. You can agree on the paint color for that reason. You can agree to give up the gift you wanted to make for yourself – a collectible item or night out with friends. It’s a game of give-and-take, aye. It’s all about compromises, letting go, forgiving, forgetting, and owning up, at least every now and then. But you never, never, ever agree to bring a child into the world just to satisfy somebody else’s need. If you don’t share it, if it isn’t absolutely mutual, if you’re not both on the same page, than… you should not be in the same book.

So, what is?

Why do it?

I fear this question so much. “I didn’t ask to be born!” All parents have heard that at some point. All children scream it at the top of their lungs at one occasion or another. I know, I’m a former child myself (my wife would probably dispute the “former” part, on one or two occasions, but let’s leave it for another day). It comes up, sooner or later, it does. It stabs the heart. Poisons the mind. Shakes the conscience. It’s a fact of life. If a kid gets born, he’s bound to say it. And these words will carry like shot fired in anger. If you ever heard a bullet fly in your general direction you know exactly how that is.

Today I look at the latest ultrasound picture and can’t help but think about it already. Why do it? If I know one thing for certain, that is that I am not ready. I am not ready big time. At least by the standards defined by the notes of the Federal Reserve. But let’s face it – if I ever considered this side of life as a part of the equation there would be no ultrasound pictures to look at; not for a long time.  

So money aside, the question remains. For what? For whom? For us? For the Little One? Is it selfishness? Are we just satisfying our need-to-have? Is it no different than spoiling yourself at the mall? Is the Life that is to come just a by-product of our giving in to this need? What have I got to offer? Do I even have the right to do that? 

Is it instinct? Just that? A primal scream of the animal in us? Nature demanding its tribute? 

When I dream about having a child (yes, I’m a of a male persuasion and I dream about having children, not hot-rods and season tickets for group sports with the high probability of head-and-neck trauma, go figure), and I have for a long time – I dream of giving comfort and peace. I dream of having answers. Long conversations about everything, because nothing will be unimportant. Because everything will be new and pure. I dream about giving of the world. I DREAM ABOUT BEING GOD.

And I am. We all are. Those who read the Bible instead of Sixty Shades of Magenta, or whatever the current bestseller is, may remember the passage: “I say, 'You are gods; you are all children of the Most High.” I never really did get it, until now. When you read about creation, you read that we were made in God’s image. But when you are having a child – this is when you really know it. I may never be blessed with faith strong enough to fully understand and take in my heart the God’s gift of His Son’s Sacrifice, but, boy, do I FEEL God’s gift to me right now. He made me his partner. He shared Creation with me! I don’t think we can ever be more in communion with God, then when we are privileged in giving His gift of Life. It’s as if He moved over to the side of His throne and said: hop on and check THIS out! Now, how you accept this gift that’s a whole different story. If you are ready for it. If you are worthy of it. I don’t know if I am. I don’t know if I deserve it. But as Clint Eastwood mumbled in one of his late westerns: “deserves got nothin’ to do with it.” 

I’m not going to be a Templar on this one and answer: “God wills it!” I can’t just say “because your mother and I wanted to,” either. I guess, the only right thing to say would be, that…

you don’t plan to have children. You can’t. Anyone who says otherwise in an audacious arrogant, even if they succeed. You can only be more or less ready for them. And then you invite them.

Child of mine, it seems that you accepted our invitation. We asked that you come. You answered. So many things could have gone wrong. From our first heartbeat to the last, it’s all about taking chances. So many things could have stopped you. But here you are – by your own will and perseverance, even though you are not yet able to understand it, you are your own person with your own purpose and we - we are just humble and grateful messengers, delivering the greatest gift of all – LIFE. Not from us, and not for us. It’s all about you. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” says the Giver of Life. This Life, this World, they’re yours – we invited you so you could have them, so you could have it all: laughs and tears, sadness and joy, and love - like our love. Love that sometimes is blessed with giving Life.

Why have children? Out of love. The love we have for each other. The love of God who is giving us this blessing. Finally, the love we have for them, before we have them – when they are just an idea; the greatest we can have.

My earliest memories - the evening view from my childhood window.
What will my child remember?

Friday, December 14, 2012


So I’m about to be a father. All has changed.

I look at the world around me as if I were seeing it for the very first time. I look as I have not in a long time. I no longer scan, sifting through it all, deciding friend, foe, and landscape, over and over, without a conscious thought and without end, just for the sake of the situational awareness. No. I look, again. I’m back to being a child, on behalf of the one to come - I look and I wonder: what is it? I know, I will be asked that question a million times. Everything around me, without any distinct order, and most certainly without exception, is, yet again, a subject of definition. I am going to have to name every thing and describe every process within sight. And I’d better do it without hesitation and I’d better do it right, ‘cause knowing mommy and daddy – faking it just won’t do. 

I must define the world; answer all whats and whys – at random. Here I go. 

Bliss -  My entry @ Travel&Leisure's "People" contest