We had three childless couples over for dinner last Friday. By calling them "childless", I don't mean to imply anything about their stance toward having children. It so happens that one couple doesn't plan to have kids; another couple probably does but no time soon; the third couple, whom we know the least, may or may not want kids someday. I just don't know.
Anyway, the kids ate dinner in the kitchen while we ate in the dining room. We stayed around the DR table after the boys were done, and they would occasionally wander in, climb in one of our laps, chit chat and then go off again. After one of these visits, one of our guests asked "So, they're worth it, right?". If anyone has ever asked you this question, you know how hard it is to answer.
The question seems to provoke joke responses. Yesterday's chart summarizes one direction in which my jokey responses might have gone. After the joke responses, the interrogated brain turns to cost-benefit analysis, which is a useful tool for deciding whether to expand a factory but falls a little flat here. How could one possibly articulate the benefits and weigh them against the costs? I wanted, though, to give my friend a real answer beyond the jokes and the impossibility of valuing human lives and relationships. In the end, I asked if she remembered what it was like to fall in love with her husband. Whatever relationships we've had before, we typically recognize that the love that's strong enough to commit to marriage feels totally different from any love we've experienced before. I can say the same about parental love for my sons. I feel about them differently than I feel about anybody else in the world. My relationships with them produce a variety of strong emotions that make for a different cost-benefit analysis at different times (were I to dare to undertake that).
Are they worth it? I don't think I can answer that. Would I want to go back to a world where these two boys don't exist? Absolutely not.
Have you been asked this question? Do you have any helpful responses to it?
4 months ago