Though not everyone may be able to complete this task as recommended, I will still throw it out there for anyone who is interested. If you think you want to have kids… if the thought of a sweet smelling baby in a fleecy blanket melts your heart… if you think of cuddling this perfect creature on the couch and singing to him all day long as he smiles and touches your face… take my advice: first, get a puppy. (If that’s not possible, find some weary parents who need a break and babysit together – you and your boyfriend/girlfriend – for them several times – this experience will also give you insight into your potential mate’s current parenting skills.)
Please don’t get me wrong. Children are wonderful gifts from the Lord. The Bible says that children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 126:3); however, kids are WORK. Ask any mother who does not have full time help (and even some who do) if raising kids is what they expected, and most of the time you are going to get a smile and a “not at all.” It is a natural and good thing to want kids, but in this world of “have it all whenever you want it,” it is easy to idealize raising kids and it is easy to forget that those sweet smelling babes turn into dirty, muddy kids, and then into self-actualizing teens.
Our puppy, Ramsey, is currently 7.5 months old. She wakes us up in the morning with a shrill whine that sets our teeth on edge. We feed her, water her, play with her, walk her, run her, give her lots of new toys, and at the end of the day, she still whines when we are not with her. When I’m super well rested, this is somewhat endearing; but most of the time, I just want a few minutes of solitude to myself. I knew that mothers advised new mothers to “sleep when the baby sleeps,” but I had no idea that referred to baby dogs as well. I tiptoe to the bathroom at night, desperately trying not to wake her; and in the morning while she’s eating, Eric and I jump back into bed for a few more seconds of rest before the whining begins again. Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this to demonstrate the realities of our decisions.
For years, before we got Ramsey, I dreamed of a golden retriever puppy. I could not wait to cuddle this precious ball of fluff in my arms. They were perfect in all of the commercials and their pictures graced the outside of many dog food and other dog product boxes. Surely these were perfect dogs that would make my life so much sweeter. At work, I would sit and daydream about being home, snuggled up with my pup with no cares in the world.
The reality of my current daily routine is that no matter what I plan to get done in a day, I am continuously interrupted by the needs of my fluff ball. She may walk on all fours and have blankets of fur all over her body, but she is a teenager (though, still acts like a baby) and she still has many needs. When I am tempted to complain, I remember all the years I desperately wanted a puppy. Eric and I prayed about the right time to get a puppy and that we would be blessed with a Golden Retriever. God did answer our prayers, but He did not give us our awaited dream come true and take away the responsibility and work. No, Sir…. We wanted a living creature and now we care for it, even though it may inconvenience our wants at times.
Obviously, children are far more precious than dogs (though, each have their positive attributes), but there are several parallels. We dream of those babies; we can’t wait to meet them, see what they look like, share them with family and friends, document everything, etc. We can be so drawn in by how they will bless our lives that we forget about the difficult aspects of parenthood and that we are there to care for them. What about those late nights out with friends? Are you ready to eliminate, or seriously cut back, on those evenings? What about the vacations to which you are accustomed? Will you be willing to cut back on those if the expense of having children requires it? Think about your sleep…. Do you think you will be able to continue sleeping whenever you want to with a baby or two needing you all the time? Dads to be: Are you ready to share your wife’s affections with a little bundle who will demand her time every day, even if it means less time devoted to you and your needs?
So, you think you want to have kids? Believe me; I am not trying to dissuade people, especially Godly people, from having children (though I do believe it is essential to wait until marriage to do so). My purpose for this topic was to break the fantasy bubble and shine a real light on the area of parenthood. Please do not go into parenthood blindly, expecting your child to solve your problems, to create more intimacy in your relationship, or to provide you with love that is missing in your life. Your child will need you, first for everything, and later for stability, guidance, and love. I urge you not to make your decisions based on a fantasy, because when the fantasy shatters and becomes reality, that beautiful child will still need you, even when it’s inconvenient.
Have you ever had a fantasy about having children? How are you hoping his or her arrival will change your life? Are there other items about which you fantasize that would change your life?