Sunday, April 28, 2013

Children are a Burden

There was a blog post circulating around FB—last month, I think—about Society's idea that children are a burden. The blogger was a mother of a large family, & point by point, she refuted this idea that children are a burden, arguing instead that they are a blessing.

We hear this refrain so often—CHILDREN ARE A BLESSING! But unlike other "blessings," we work to control the ahem "flow" of divine generosity to some extent. Unlike other "blessings," we have support groups to talk about these wonderful bundles of joy. Unlike other "blessings," we hire help, send to school, or hide in the bathroom from these.

I think we've stretched the word “blessing” a little.

So let me say it: children are a burden. They cost their parents time, money, sleep, sanity, and to some extent, health. They are not "blessings" in the traditional sense of the word—bits of manna to be gathered up like Mario points on a video game & then enjoyed without footnote.

There are footnotes. Like the first time you have to take care of a baby despite a Really Bad Cold. The first time you sit in the waiting room of the ER or in the NICU. The first time that Blessing stares you down with your own perfected GLARE & defies you.

I admit it: children are a burden. MY children are a burden. But WHY have we as a society become so averse to bearing burdens?

I had a philosophy class once that talked about the maturation of the soul. There was something about starting out seeing things from the perspective of the good of SELF and then you’d end up seeing things from the perspective of the good of SOCIETY. There was other stuff in between, & I wish I could tell you better, but I was toting a newborn to class, & some of it gets a little fuzzy.

My point, then—let's stop pretzeling parenting around into something that's all sunshine & kisses & tell the truth: it's hard work. It will make you sweat, cry, curse. It breaks you.

But that's not bad. Hard work & pain are not things to be Avoided At All Cost. When the end goal is worth it, we should have the strength of character to know how to make sacrifices, to back our ideals up with our blood.

Well-loved children WILL make the world a better place, WILL make their parents better people. These children ARE a good, but the goodness is not just the Child-In-the-Raw: it's the product of decades of family life, of the quiet love and sacrifice of parents, being reflected back to them through their children, of this love and sacrifice acting upon the souls of the individuals to create Human Beings, members of society, in which families reflect love and sacrifice to other families, communities to communities, nations to nations.

And that's okay. You might even call it a blessing.