Have you ever wondered what being a parent means to you? Besides being biologically driven by your survival instincts. Besides being put on a familiar and safe social path. Have you ever really stopped to think why you have chosen to bring children into this world and what would happen if you had not been a parent at all?
I know a woman who had her first child when she was 41. She had to go through medical torments and spend a lot of money to have them, but she wanted them with everything she had and now, she feels complete. Still, she cannot describe why.
Last night, Ronit and I watched an Australian film called Not Suitable for Children, a story of Jonah, a young party animal, who find out he is about to lose his fertility and embarks on a crazy mission to have a child. Being generally reckless, it seems odd to everyone around him that he wants to be a parent so much, but bit by bit, we find out.
We thought the movie was beautiful. It was well played, well produced, and despite the expected direction of the plot, managed to deliver a few surprises and include several side topics into the mix, such as the single 40-year-old woman and the lesbian couple.
There is one point where Jonah is asked why he is so desperate to have a child, even though he knows he is too young and has no steady partner. He says something like, “Just before my mum died, she told me she was OK with it, because she had my sister and me and we made her happy. I want that too”.
My youngest sister is nearly 13 years younger than I am, so when she was born, I was half way to being an adult. When I was 16, I remember feeling like there was something missing, something that would complete me if I held it in my arms. I knew that something was a baby.
When Ronit was 15, her first nephew was born. He was smart, independent, quick to learn everything and made everyone around him softer and happier. Ronit played with him for hours and loved him with all her heart. Later, when we talked about having children ourselves, she said to me, “I love Adam so much, I wonder what it would be like with my own children. I wonder if it’s possible to love them more”.
When we had Eden, the place in my arms was filled by a warm bundle and Ronit discovered that it was possible to love our own child more than she had ever through possible.
When Eden was 2, she wanted a sister. She would nag about it for ages and play make-believe games about her baby sister. We wanted to take our time. When we finally started trying to have another child, this turned out to be a little more complicated than we had anticipated.
When Eden was 4, Ronit got pregnant after several attempts and carried the baby to term, but he was born with a heart defect and died after 35 hours. We tried again and the baby died of a chord accident on the 8th month of pregnancy.
We were devastated, but determined. We handled the next pregnancy as high risk, suffered through bleeding and extended bed time, and were eventually rewarded with our son Tsoof.
4 years later, we moved to Australia, and wanted to have another child, but we had to wait 12 months for our medical insurance to cover us. Given our history, we were not taking chances. After another year, our daughter Noff was born.
We all arrived at the hospital early in the morning and full of excitement. I went into the operating theater with Ronit and the kids stayed in Ronit’s room to wait for us. When Noff had been washed, weighed and wrapped snuggle, we all sat around her, making loving sounds and looking at her with admiring eyes.
This was not the end, because she was born with hip dysplasia and had to suffer through 6 weeks of scratchy harness that made her cry as soon as we put her down, followed by another harness for a few months.
Throughout this journey, I knew I wanted kids, I did my best to have them and to raise them the best I can, but I do not remember ever asking why. That only happened after I learned life coaching and started questioning almost everything in my life.
My conclusion was that being a parent is my way of creating awesome creatures that I will love with all my heart and who will love me back. It was my way of making the world a better place, even a little. It was my way of finding meaning for my life.
There is an exercise in life coaching called “the perfect day”, in which the client describes what a perfect day would be like for the, with no limitations whatsoever. There is a similar exercise called “if I were a millionaire”. Both of these are meant to free the mind from habitual thoughts, like “I don’t have enough money” or “I can’t do what I want”.
If you do these exercises as a parent, how do your kids fit into the picture?
What does being a parent mean to you?
Please post your answer as a comment below. Anything you write is valid and will be respected. Maybe it will help others figure out their answer too.