Why do we have children? The question lies beneath social and political issues we confront today, from abortion and adoption to declining fertility rates in developed nations and the relative virtues of "eastern" and "western" forms of parenting. In 2010 a whole host of articles and commentaries debated the finding that parenthood does not make us happier. So what is the point? Why do we make all the extraordinary sacrifices that parenthood requires?Read it all.
There was no part of me, as we rushed to the emergency room that night, that wished my daughter gone and my freedom restored. Not the slightest part of me thought I should be happier without her. Instead, I knew with terrible certainty that if this small, fragile, quivering creature against my chest were to leave me, she would take all my joy with her. And no part of me would have preferred that she had never come to be, if she could only be for thirteen months and then be no more. Her thirteen months had made my life worth living.
I had felt a twinge of disappointment when the doctor informed us that we were having a girl. Connecting with boys had always come easily; a little wrestling, a little flying around the room, a few uncivilized sound effects, and we were buds. Yet when I went home from the ultrasound, and sat down alone to write, I dissolved into a spectacular emotional wreck. At the thought of fathering a daughter, waves of joy rolled through me. I loved my little girl long before I met her. I read her stories in the womb, sang to her, prayed for her. It wouldn't matter what she looked like or what her personality was. She was mine—mine to nurture and protect, mine to train and guide, and mine to love with all my might.
We have children because love overflows. I believe as a Christian that I am created in the image of a God who is Love, a God whose love so desired an object that it brought us into being. Although the wisdom and power of love within us is clouded and twisted by sin, still the image of Love is there. We have children because love is essentially creative, and because our souls long for other souls we can love lavishly and forever.
Love precedes the beloved. That is why it is unconditional. In bearing children we participate in God's continuing creative act, and in sustaining and guiding and sacrificing for our children we reflect God's redemptive act. Theologically, then, we have children because we are made after the image of a God who had children, a God who is irreducibly relational and endlessly creative.
In the comment thread at Hot Air I posted this:
Children are hardly accessories, except for possibly the Famous Beautiful People who buy them on the cheap in Southeast Asia or Africa.
Our children were all accidents. Our first two, twins, were really accidental. We were told after two miscarriages, not to get pregnant. I thought I couldn't get pregnant again, at least so quickly, but were we ever wrong.
In well-spaced succession we had a third daughter who vexed us most sorely nearly her whole life, until she got married and had a baby of her own and now understands the joys and sorrows of parenting.
Our fourth came as a surprise but rewarded my nine months of pre-partum depression with 14 years...so far...of joy and wonder.
My husband is exactly like Mr. Dalrymple in his reaction to having a daughter. Best accidents, ever.