Monday, March 8, 2010

Quality Versus Quantity of Life

A work friend of mine posted a video project she had to do for class. It was called Memories...and Memory. It was the juxtaposition of things we remember forever (e.g. her kids, parents) and things we always forget (e.g. keys, paying bills). I wish I could post it, but it has many of her own, personal family pictures in it. While it was only a few minutes long, it really made me think.

I tend to yearn for a full family life. Looking at the pictures of her kids when they were little (and then remembering that they're barely younger than I am) I realized that maybe we all yearn for the fullness of life that only lasts a few precious years. We live for many years, but the years we look forward to, remember, and miss most are so short.

While I recognize that, in many ways, I am not yet ready for kids, I somehow still feel I am. *B* and I have certain prerequisites for having kids. The biggest is obviously marriage, but other than that, a teacher's certification, and a masters degree, we want to be able to enjoy the time we have together as a couple. How much couple time is enough to build a strong bond and do non-kid activities? Isn't it possible to do things with kids in tow (though it can be a lot of work)?

There's a scene in When Harry Met Sally that follows this line of logic:

Sally: When Joe and I started seeing each other we wanted exactly the same thing. We wanted to live together but we didn't want to get married because every time anyone we knew got married it ruined their relationship, they practically never had sex again. It's true. It's one of those secrets that no one ever tells you. I would sit around with my girlfriends who have kids... actually this my girlfriend who has kids, Alice, and she and Garry never did it anymore. She didn't even complain about it now that I think about it. She just said it matter-of-fact-ly. She said, they were up all night, they were both exhausted all the time, the kids just took every sexual impulse they had out of them. (Pauses) Joe and I use to talk about it and
we'd say, we are so lucky we have this wonderful relationship, we can have sex on the kitchen floor and not worry about the kids walking in, we can fly off to Rome on a moment's notice. And then one day I was taking Alice's little girl for the afternoon because I promised I'd take her to the circus, and, we were in the cab playing eye-spy. Eye-spy mailbox, eye-spy lamppost. And she looked out the window and she saw this man and this woman with these two little kids and the man had one of the little kids on his shoulders and she said, "I spy a family". And I started to cry. You know I just started crying. And I went home and I said, "The thing is Joe we never fly off to Rome on a moment's notice.
Harry: And the kitchen floor...
Sally: Not once, it's this cold, hard Mexican ceramic tile.

It's not that *B* and I want totally different things like that. Not in the least. But, like Sally, I'm starting to feel the bedrock of my assumptions shift. I've assumed for a while we'd wait four or five years after getting married to have kids. That way, we could travel and be spontaneous. But we can't afford to travel, and we're not SO spontaneous. A couple of day trips to the beach, yes, but can't you do that with kids? How does one know when they're ready to have kids?


  1. Can one ever feel ready to have kids? ;)

    This is a very personal decision, best made as a couple, with lots of prayer and listening to God.

    In my experience, though, kids do NOT mess up a relationship unless it already has problems to begin with.

  2. I second all the Mrs Mordecai says.

    We had our first child 10 months and one week after we were married. Our second child 13 months after that. If I had the chance to go back and do it all again, I wouldn't change a thing.

    Having money in the bank, great careers and miles of travel under your belt are nice. However a family, children, those are the things that stick, those things give you purpose, give you meaning and give you joy.

    My children bind me to my husband and he to me. With each child that we have welcomed into our lives our love had grown. We are one in purpose, those are the ties that bind us together.

    Having children that quickly isn't for everyone, my husband had finished his schooling and had a good job when we were married and was able to support me staying home with our baby. Have children is a very personal decision, like Mrs M said. However, if a couple is committed, having children can only enhance that comitment, and shouldn't be looked on as something that will tear asunder.

  3. I knew that someone would say that Mrs. Mordecai :o) I'm glad you mentioned that last part. Since my parents' relationship was so unhealthy, I've never had a really good model of how kids affect a couple.

    Aimee - you nailed what I was thinking. You are so articulate. It is that meaning and joy that I have been missing. Though I REALLY love my cats, they just can't compare :o)

  4. I think you can wait and wait and wait until "everything's perfect", and you'd just wait forever. It might be "not until we have enough money" -- but how much is enough? -- or "not until we have paid the house" -- but then won't you want a bigger house? I guess the most important thing is that it's a mutual decision, but aside from that, you'll never REALLy be able to plan for everything that kids bring into your world. And honestly, I think our society puts so much emphasis on what you lose when you have kids (money, independence, time), and neglects to mention the great joy, experience, and opportunity for self (and couple) growth that they bring, which is really overwhelming.