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The joy of parenting

March 3, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

Why do we have children?

It is hard work – it starts with labor, literally. (I think it was intended that way to forewarn us that parenting is such hard work and full of challenges, but when you look in the eyes of the little one before you – the feelings of such intense love overcome you, and you forget about all of the labor.)

The hard work continues. Each stage of our children’s development brings us different challenges, which sometimes we can help control and sometimes not (which is the most difficult).

So why do so many of us willingly take this role of parenting on when most parents would agree it is the hardest job on earth.

An anonymous author wrote that “A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.”

Certainly there are trials, stress and growing pains that we experience as parents raising our children.

In the midst of those trials are the sticky hands that hug us; the triumphs our children achieve; the ouchies that only mommy or daddy can kiss to get better; and of course, those words “I love you.”

An article, “Have Children, The Surprising Reasons at the Heart of Motherhood” by Lauren Slater tells us that Charles Darwin, who had seven children himself, theorized that species exist to reproduce – having babies is the driving force of every organism. “Whether you know it or not, what your body really wants out of life is to Xerox itself, propelling its own faint image into the future,” the article further noted.

Studies have shown that we seem to have a biological drive to connect with babies, to love babies. We physically, emotionally and mentally want to connect. Our voices rise, our pupils dilate when we see these wee little beings.

The article further discusses the role of parenthood. Parenthood gives us a purpose. Being a parent gives us the realization that there is someone more important than us. It means loving someone else more than we love ourselves. It means rearing the next generation.

“Parenting brings meaning to our lives and expands us beyond ourselves,” psychologist Jennifer Coon-Wallman said. People who don’t have children may find other ways to “parent” through their careers, volunteering, etc.

There may be many reasons why we choose to be parents, and the fact of the matter is we are parents, and it is the hardest, most challenging job there is, but it is the most priceless, rewarding “job” of all.

The other day I was playing “Angela” house as my three-year old, Delaney, frequently asks me to play. Delaney changes her name to Angela as we play house, which always involves cooking a dinner (play food and dishes) for our many friends and children (stuffed animals and dolls).

Delaney’s favorite dish to make for our dinner party is her homemade fruit and vegetable soup.

In our last play session, I asked her in an English accent, “How do you make this delicious soup, Miss Angela?”

Her most delightful response was, “One cup of flour, two cups of milk; add fruits and vegetables; cook it for a half a minute. I got the recipe from the library.”

I wrote her precious recipe down for safe keeping. This is why we are parents.

Have a wonderful day enjoying your children, at whatever age or stage they are.