Let’s just get right to the point of this post. Exactly as the title states, children are an inconvenience. They just are. It’s a fact. However, this is the reality of parenting. I’m pretty sure it is impossible to be a parent and not be inconvenienced.
This week I read an article that prompted these thought entitled “They’re Single. They’re Straight. They’re Friends. And They’re Having a Baby.” An increasing number of individuals are choosing to raise children with a non-romantic partner for a host of reasons. In fact, there are now sites that can match you with someone, much like a dating site. Here is another reality: 35% of children now live in single parent homes. In 1968 that figure was 15%. As of the last few years, marriage is on the decline for the first time in history. 61% of people between 18 and 34 do not have a spouse or partner. Marriage is becoming more and more unappealing. Now, certainly marriage isn’t for everyone, nor should it be. I know two women who have chosen to foster/adopt as single women and I have mad respect for them. But I find these trends a bit worrisome due to the reasons behind why some people are making these choices.
One comment stuck out to me amidst the host of reasons some people are choosing this lifestyle. One woman by the name of Lauren Brim, who is raising her 4-year-old with a platonic male friend admits “she was inspired, in part, by a recently divorced friend who appeared to be having more fun than most of her married friends: ‘For half the week, it would be kids world, with homework and dance parties in the living room, and then the other half would be R-rated movies and whiskey at the bar.'” This comment doesn’t sit well with me. At all. My question is, what might that friend be missing out on with her children that 50% of the time she doesn’t have them? I have friends who have had to share their children with ex-spouses only a fraction of the time and have felt agony on missing out on holidays and other special moments. They might be unencumbered for the time their children are away and free to do adult things, but that doesn’t make their life a party.
I will admit I have complained and moaned at times about the inconveniences my boys have presented at times. I didn’t think my youngest would ever sleep through the night, and I remember being so tired. There are moments I now gripe about the 6 times I have to drive back and forth across town in a day to pick up one or the other of them from activities. No doubt, I do not relish going up to the high school at 3:00 in the morning to pick my son up from his show choir competitions. The older they get, the more expensive they get. But guess what? When I brought them into this world, that’s what I signed up for.
Maybe, just maybe, if you don’t want these inconveniences 24/7, then you just don’t need to consider being a parent. This reminds me of a sign I saw at a local hardware store awhile back. It said, “Now hiring. Must want to work.” What a sad state of affairs that the additional comment was necessary.
There is an anonymous quote that says, “If it was going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called labor.” My friend, Rachel Gerber, wrote in her book Ordinary Miracles, “Living in this state of expectation– a posture in which we anticipate encountering ordinary miracles throughout each day– takes work. It takes effort to remember. It is just so easy to forget the sacred mundane through which we walk every day.” As a person of faith, I see parenting as holy work. It is a job which often feels completely beyond my capabilities. It is hard, trying and exhausting at times, but there is no way I would trade what I have and miss out on a single moment of their existence if I don’t have to.
My children are beautifully inconvenient, and they are worth every moment that my life is complicated in order to experience a taste of unconditional love. There is such joy to be had in raising tiny humans to be amazing adults, if only we will take the time to look for it. I’ll find other ways to watch R-rated movies and drink whiskey, thank you (just kidding).