This morning we are welcoming a baby girl into our family. Her name is Esther. We are very excited, and our children can’t wait to meet their baby sister. My daughter Hannah is so excited that she will likely burst into tears when she gets to hold “her baby” later today. Over the years, I’ve noticed that not everyone is as excited for each new addition to our family as we are. You know how that happens don’t you, many have said to me. People see kids as a burden. They get excited when you get a new car, but the news of a new kid solicits remarks about how to avoid having kids or how your life is now over. Each time it makes me sad for them. They don’t see or believe that children are one of the greatest things in the world. We have been blessed with five children over the past nine years, and it’s been the best nine years of my life. So I want to share with you why we have five kids.
Note: I totally understand that not everyone is able to have children. If we hadn’t been able to have our own children, we would have adopted. We still might adopt children at some point down the road. I make some generalizations below, and I understand there are many exceptions.
1. We love children. This might seem obvious, but many people view children as a burden, or an obstacle that gets in the way of some other pursuit. We really enjoy being around our kids. My wife and I don’t think or talk about going on vacations or trips without our kids, as it wouldn’t be as much fun without them. Plus, we don’t want them to miss out.
2. Life is best when it is shared with others. Growing up, if I ever experienced something amazing, I would try to get all my friends to experience it as well. If it was food, I would convince my friends to eat it. If it was a great movie, to watch it. If a great book, to read it. Amazing things in this world are even more amazing when they are experienced with others, especially when it’s for the first time.
When I was in high school, our soccer club was on a bus in Southern Oregon heading to a match. As we were driving down the freeway, sitting in the back of the bus staring out the window, I saw a large adult mountain lion standing about 30 yards off the side of the freeway. I hopped up and started motioning for everyone to look back, but it was too late. No one else saw the great cat, and many didn’t believe me as they are pretty rare to come across out in the open like that. It was a huge bummer that no one else experienced the incredible sight.
Special moments are best when they are shared with others. Having children is one of the best ways to share life’s experiences with someone else. The natural curiosity and wonder that children have for the world, and their desire to learn how everything works is refreshing and contagious. As kids get older, there is often no one that you will spend more time with than your children. You get to experience life together.
3. Our children are fun to be around. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort teaching our children to listen to us as parents, and to be kind and respectful. It’s been a lot of work, especially with three boys, but we have seen a lot of fruit. I have seen many children that are little terrors, and that aren’t enjoyable to be around. I’m not going to get into it now, but parents need to teach their children to obey and respect their authority as parents, or their children will often make their lives miserable. Out of control kids are not helping to motivate others to have more children, as they see the chaos and say to themselves no thank you.
4. Children are the best long term investment. You give them love, food, diaper changes and shelter when they are young. When you are old, they will give you love, food, diaper changes and shelter! They can also be board game partners, a walking buddy, a surfing partner, hiking companion, someone to play catch with, watch a movie with and always someone to talk to. They can work with you in your business, and even take it over as they get older. Children will often give you grandchildren, which, as I’ve been told, is the great reward of growing old.
Besides the lifetime of rewards that you will get from your children, we really do need our children to take care of us when we are old. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
5. To change the world. Want the world to be a better place? There is no more effective way to change the world for the better than to have children, and raise and teach them to find ways to help others and add value to the world. With enough work, through your children (and grandchildren), you can make the world a better place long after you are gone.
6. To remind us to enjoy life. Kids are very good at helping us keep life in perspective. It’s tempting to work too much. It’s tempting to make ourselves so busy that we don’t have time to enjoy life. If we are willing to listen to our children, they will often remind us that life is more than just work and money. They remind us to have fun, use our imaginations and to enjoy life.
I used to work for an assisted living community at the end of high school and just after I graduated. I look back at that job with immense fondness, and I will never forget the friendships that were formed with many of the residents. One of my jobs was driving residents to and from dinner on a golf cart. Many wonderful conversations came from those trips, and a few of them I will never forget.
The first would come in moments of them sharing with me their biggest regrets in life. Multiple times they shared that they wish they wouldn’t have allowed the pressure and prevalent thinking of the culture to dictate their decisions. You could see the heaviness on their faces wishing they would have just lived the life that they wanted to live.
The second was what they didn’t share. This generation was one of the toughest generations ever, but old age and the ailments that come with it can cause even the toughest of people to complain about their current state. I heard every complaint you could imagine, but one. I never once heard any resident ever complain that they had too many children. In fact, it was the exact opposite. I heard more bragging, more stories, more reflection about their children than anything else. When a resident had children that were coming to visit them, I would hear about it every day for a week. When the children arrived, these sweet residents would begin to glow. Nothing brought them more happiness than their children.
I think it would be wise for us all to learn from that great generation. Live the life we want to live regardless of the current trends and pressures from our culture. Learn to value children while we are young, because children become the wealth of the old.
I do things differently than most people. I was a computer nerd in the 90’s when computers weren’t popular. I read newspapers at lunch time instead of hanging out with my friends in Jr. high and high school. I was on the chess club and enjoy reading books. I encourage people to find alternatives to college and start their own businesses. My wife and I homeschool our kids. I earn my living on Craigslist. I buy almost everything used. Now I have five children. It hasn’t always made my life easy. Sometimes I get made fun of. Sometimes people roll their eyes and make snide remarks. It still makes me sad, but it doesn’t change my decisions. In a few hours I’m going to be holding my daughter Esther. I won’t regret it today and I certainly won’t regret it when I’m old.
Update: Here’s baby Esther