Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Blessing of Children

While blog-hopping the other day, I found this wonderful post from a Catholic homeschooling mother and writer: 40 Reasons to Have Kids. It's a terrific list all in itself, one worth reading over and contemplating and then reading over again as you think about your own reasons you could add to it.

What makes it even more interesting is that it was written in response to another list, titled "40 Reasons Not to Have Kids" which is included at the end of this article. If you think that list sounds like a bad joke or a broad parody...well, it wasn't intended to. It's part of an actual book that apparently has become a bestseller in France. I only recommend reading the latter list 1) after you have read the life-affirming list I posted first, and 2) with an eye toward reflecting on the sadness of our life-denying culture (and finding new ways to pray for people enmeshed in it).

It's truly eye-opening to see the difference in world views: what life and children and love and parenting look like from the perspective of someone who knows and loves God, versus what they look like from the perspective of someone who seems to be mostly thinking about herself. Granted, we all fall into the latter category sometimes (because we're all sinners) but I am totally in agreement with the blogger who believes that children are a gift. In fact, a very great gift. And that they help to move us out of our selfish myopia and into an openness to all that God longs to do in us and shape us into being.

One other comment on this pair of lists: when I read the article about the author of the "No Kids" book, it pointed out that she is, in fact, the mother of two children whom she deeply regrets having. How painful that must be for her children. The journalist interviewing her asked her if she'd given copies of her book to her kids (who are, I believe, aged 10 and 13). And then came my favorite moment from the article:

For the record, she has given copies of her book to both her children. Neither has picked it up, or paid it any attention. "All they want to do is read Harry Potter," she sighs.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm so thankful for the resilience of childhood. It's wonderful to realize that her children instinctively turn away from the painful and debilitating view of life that she's espousing and turn toward an amazingly written story that, among other things, provides one of the richest storied pictures you can imagine of maternal sacrificial love, and of sacrificial love at the very heart of reality. In other words, they're "escaping" into a story that's preparing them for an encounter with the Greatest Story. It's pre-evangelism, but shh! don't tell their mother. Don't tickle the sleeping dragon. Just let em' read.


Erin said...

Wow, those poor kids. Looks to me like they'd definitely be better off not reading their mom's book. What a bitter list... And, conversely, the other one is great. As you say, very life-affirming. Definitely something to point nervous new parents to...

Beth said...

Definitely. I know not everyone is meant to or should have children, but how sad it would be for someone to buy into that terribly bitter (and self-centered) list and thus forgo a great adventure and blessing! I know I only have one little tyke myself; she is so precious. And yes, parenting is hard...but since when are the best things in life easy? :-)