I know that I’m walking onto dangerous ground with what I’m about to say. There is some risk that it could be misinterpreted, or offensive or hurtful to some people. Please, if you feel bothered by this, please don’t read it as my critiquing your choices, but rather my own reflections on how parenthood has affected me.
I was thinking the other day, you see, about the profound effect that Aili has had on my life. I mean, apart from the obvious: no job – no rush hour – less family income – waaay more vomit – words with many fewer syllables – badly fitting clothes – no awareness of what day of the week it is… the list goes on. But even more than the obvious outer changes, are the quieter and deeper changes in who I am becoming.
I tried to imagine life without her. Or going back to the life I had, with work and commuting and button-down shirts and cute shoes with actual heels on them. Looking back, that life seems so empty to me. I mean, sure, we had a lot more disposable income, and I got to shop a lot more (and as a result, dressed a lot better) and we took really fun vacations to exotic and faraway lands. But when I look at that life now, I feel like it was so … vacuous … before I had this tiny person to care for. I lived it for me – and to a lesser extent, Johnny – but at the end of my life, it would have felt empty. I would have disappeared, because in the big scheme of things, none of that meant anything.
I thought about friends who don’t have kids (perhaps they haven’t decided if they want any, or they aren’t quite ready yet), and I hope so much that they will eventually make the choice to have their own babies. I do respect the choices of my friends who don’t want children, but I don’t understand them. My life has more meaning and value than I ever could have imagined because Aili is a part of it, although I can’t find the words to explain it, no matter how much I try to elucidate. We are blessed to have wonderful and delightful friends, and I wish for all of them the joy and amazement and indescribable value in being a parent.
Is every moment of every day a delight and a wonder? No, certainly not. But I wouldn’t change anything about it. This is the most powerful and rewarding experience I’ve ever had.