An Adventurous Life
I recently was privy to an essay written by a single twenty-something guy who opined that people who have children in their twenties are insane and that there is time enough, after you had some "fun," to have babies when you're too old to do anything else; like in your thirties. He continued on to say that people who have kids are boring and he can't imagine having a conversation with them that did not include children, because that's all they know.
I am in the unique position to be able to respond to this donkey (the other word would offend everyone except the donkey I am referring to). I am one of those "boring" people who had two babies in my twenties, two more in my late thirties and fostered another in my forties. Why? Because children are anything but boring.
In fact, I have built an entire career writing about how not boring they are. There is so much love and laughter in my life because I have children. Yes, they are a huge commitment. Yes, they take time and money away from you. But they give so much more back.
The donkey thinks you can have a fulfilling life without children, and on this, he is correct. Fulfilling is not the same thing as bountiful, though. If you have a million dollars and invest it, you get more dollars. If you have love and invest it in children, you get more love. It's as simple as that. Why wouldn't you do that?
Well, I can think of at least one reason: A person who has never had a million dollars might not see the value in it. If given the chance to own it, he will simply spend all the money instead of investing it, just as a person who has never experienced real love before.
Dear donkey, if that is the case for you, I wish for you a love so grand, so powerful, and so sublime, that all you really want to do is to share it. And when that love has exceeded the bounds of two hearts, it may just manifest itself into the face of your own child.
You can talk about hormonal instincts, genes, natural progression, and propagating the species as the reason behind having children, but as humans, we can ignore all that and do whatever pleases us. Some of us find pleasure in holding a baby, teaching a child, and guiding a teenager to adulthood. You see, dear donkey, your opinion that you should have fun in your twenties before you go through the drudgery of having children does not signify if, like me, you think children are fun.
As for being boring: I'll wager that I have seen and done more after I started having children at age 22, than you have had, or will have, before you are thirty.
For starters, I have seen the sun rise on the Atlantic ocean and I've seen it set on the Pacific. I have been to the tops of the Alps and into the depths of Carlsbad Caverns. I have seen the magnificence of Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon and the giant Sequoias in Yosemite. I have eaten spaghetti in Italy, pate in France, sauerkraut in Germany, and rouladen in Austria. I have seen the past in the castles in Europe, the colonies of Jamestown and the brick-covered roads of St. Augustine. I've seen the future at NASA, Hollywood, and New York City. I have snorkeled in the Dry Tortugas, waterskied on Lake Erie, lunched on a volcano, and ice-skated on a pond at dawn. I've seen the oil rigs in Texas and the endless, wheat-covered fields of the Midwest. I've experienced hurricanes and blizzards, ice storms and dust storms. I've ridden on horses, buses, trains, boats, planes, a Model T Ford, and a hot air balloon. I have known the wonder, hope and love in a child's eyes and experienced the fierce love and protectiveness that only a parent can feel. I have seen and done things that would take your breath away. and so have my children.
But, Mr. Donkey, of all the things I've seen and done so far, not one of these adventures, not one, can even be compared to the adventures of raising children. Because I have had so much "fun" and also had children, I should know, shouldn't I? Mark Twain once said that it is better to close ones mouth and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt. One should not write about things one knows nothing about.