Sometimes you stumble across that perfect piece of cultural flotsam. This is one of those pieces. When the history of 1960-20×5 is written this piece will be part of the social history. And it would be easy, and meaningless, to point out the narcissistic and self-indulgent presuppositions about life and marriage that support such a piece and how they got there. Meaningless because they couldn’t bear it, because lack of ears to hear. Instead I’m going to write not criticism but personal experience.
The one piece of criticism I’ll embed at the start, having kids, contra the article’s father, is not a selfish endeavor. Having kids is in the natural order of things if we don’t get in the way with our own egos, and having kids is the penultimate expression of sacrifice not selfishness. The Psalmist prays to be taught to number our days (Psalm 90:12), and to rightly know that our span is but 70 years, 80 if we have the strength (Psalm 90:10). Kids are part of that teaching. And they are rightly given to the young when you still think you will live forever. Having kids becomes an acknowledgement that I came from dust and to dust I will return.
We have three beautiful annoying full of energy kids. David caused many sleepless nights rocking. Ethan still 2 nights out of 5 runs in the middle of the night to climb into bed with mom & dad. And then he progresses to play “the little one” as he spreads out horizontally and digs the feet into Dad’s kidney saying “roll over, I’m squished”. Anna, the first, is perfect. (Oldest kids always are.)
With three money is always tight. With probably 90% of people out there, day care just wouldn’t make sense. You’d spend the second income after tax paying someone else to raise your kids. So we get by on one income. The family vacation is usually a stay-cation, or if we can swing it a trip to family that we can impose the 5 of us on. And the truth of that is staying at home is a relief. Everything is already there. No one whines three miles down the road, “where is my blankie” and if you don’t feel like picking up the toys at dusk, you can leave them overnight. The only frowns are the neighbors who by now are used to it. I try not to think about the college funds, because that just isn’t going to happen in any serious way. (So Anna, Valedictorian or bust). Also while praying for the $10,000 BA revolution to speed up. The 10 year old car I inherited from my brother better last another 5 years. But you do it gladly as part of the sacrifice. And they will do it eventually also. You have a vocation, a calling.
Being on the not too far side of 40 we figured we were done. As the columnist mentions, getting pregnant in the usual way after 40 is akin to “blowing up the death star”. But somehow we had been so blessed. We saw the sonogram at 7 weeks and it was real. A couple of weeks went by. That hope that usually starts building as the baby growth came around. Negotiations for bedroom space were entered into. Do we get a bunk bed set? Yes. Who gets it? The boys. Who gets the top? David, maybe he’ll be too heavy and crash through and take care of a couple of college payments for us went he joke. Followed quickly by a cross and a hug. And then that little child was lost. That child that the three previous ones had taught us well what sacrifices would have to be made. That child that would have been born on the far side of the half-way point of the 80 if we have the strength.
And unlike article father’s final question (what about our health?), I’d have given mine to welcome that child. No child is the “free one”. They all take parts of you. Which is as it should be. The one who loves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for the gospel’s sake will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul (Mark 8:35-36)? We learn to give it over gladly.
Lord have mercy on this self-indulgent narcissistic lot, including your poor servant.