Rambling thoughts on mothering

“Oh, those people. I don’t know why they even had kids. I think it’s important to never have kids until you are sure about your reasons and never just because it’s the default choice.”

I agree that there are some very bad reasons to have children- and as a default certainly could be a bad one. But in the end, each of us knows our own reasons better than anybody else and I’m not sure it’s a good idea to assume others just had kids for no good reason just because we don’t approve of their parenting. So look at our own reasons closer than others.

OTOH, even when looking at ourselves, one can start something for bad reasons or less than noble and cerebral reasons and finish for better ones. It seems to me ‘why’ doesn’t matter, when you *are*. As long as those ‘bad’ reasons (and false expectations) aren’t coming into play I don’t know that I think we need to have some compelling, noble reason that would be generally recognized and received as socially acceptable.

I wrote this years ago when we had a large family, were used to hearing people ask us why or what we were thinking or whether or not we knew what caused it, but we seemed to be near the end of our childbearing years:

We like kids. We especially like our kids. We think they’re neat
people and we wouldn’t mind having more of these neat people around.
If no more happen to show up at our house, that’s a little
disappointing, but it’s still okay (I’m not going into major
depression over it). The ‘welcome’ sign is still out.=) That’s not
a line of reasoning many people think ‘good enough,’ but I don’t
care. It works for us.=) We have what we believe we need to have to
support any children we have- time, food, shelter, clothing, love,
knowledge, good growing space (not necessarily in that order, of
course).
We don’t have them to fill our needs, to alter the balance of world
power, because we can’t think of anything better to do, because we
can’t define ourselves in any other way but as parents, or because
we’re going to raise children with our political views (an idea I
find shockingly disregardful of children’s rights as persons) to
counter those we disdain, or…. for any other reason that centers on
ourselves.

Sometimes I’ve heard people lament wasted time in careers they have put on hold and perhaps cannot easily return to later, or that they discover they don’t love after all, or aren’t really good at, or that they had to drop because somebody needed to be a full time parent, or whatever.

I’m not so sure it’s always wasted time. I’m a great believer in stages of life. I wonder if the previous things were the right things for a person to do
at a certain time in her life, and rather than fouling them up, you
fulfilled what you needed to do at that stage. Now it’s simply time
to do something else, if you’re not interested in returning to and cannot return to whatever went before. They weren’t ‘mistakes.’ You probabably learned things,
accomplished goals, and touched others in a way you couldn’t have
done any other way. But now maybe there are other things to learn,
do, accomplish- in other ways, in other fields, maybe in something
so ‘out of the box’ that you haven’t thought of it yet, that isn’t
even a traditional ‘career’ at all.
You probably dated other guys before you met and married your
husband. Were they all mistakes just because they aren’t the guys
you ended up staying with? Or did you learn important things along
the way? You probably studied other subjects in school before you settled on a major. Were all those studies a mistake or did you learn along the way?

It <em>is</em> important to learn from mistakes, but I think a lot of things
we call mistakes aren’t really mistakes. They were the right thing
for us at that time. Like diapers, you know? I mean, diapers are
not a mistake at a certain time in life, but there comes a point
where it’s time to be toilet trained and move on- no regrets, just
move up to the next stage.

It’s good to assess where we are and where we’ve been and how we got there and what we’re doing. But it’s also good to just accept where we are and not obsess and do what we are doing in the moment, since quite likely, what we are doing is what we are really called to do just at that stage of our lives.

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