Monday, September 27, 2004

Thoughts of children and politics

My wife Charlotte and I spent a lot of the weekend discussing the possibility of having a child which was, for me, a little surreal. I'm forty years old and have spent the vast majority of my adult life being absolutely certain that I was never going to be a father. It's never been that I don't like kids, I think they are amazing, it's always been more about a reverence for the importance of raising a child and a lack of faith in my own abilities as a potential parent.

I really don't think there is anything, uh what's the word I want to use, larger than bringing another human being into the world. Humans have something the rest of the animal kingdom doesn't have: a choice when it comes to pro-creation. Science has given us many ways to avoid unwanted children and yet, our world is absolutely filled with unwanted children. We, as a society, do not take the task of raising children seriously enough. Families begin asking newly married couples when, not if, they are going to have a child mere minutes into the marriage. In many cases, adoption and especially abortion aren't even considered as options in an unplanned pregnancy situation. I realize that this is often for religious reasons but, I think we owe it to our children and our society to consider all of the options before making a choice as large as this. Not to say that an unwanted child doesn't deserve a life. People often "rise to the occasion" when faced with an unplanned pregnancy and become fantastic, very loving parents. Probably just as often they are unable to rise to the task and the child is the one who suffers.

So, where do I fall in all of this? Why are my wife and I starting to plan to have a child? I guess there isn't a simple answer to that. The first time I ever felt like I wanted a child was about a year ago and, honestly, there was no single event that triggered it. It was more just a growing feeling that maybe I do have something to contribute. Added to that was a feeling that, for the first time, I am in both a financial and psychological position to entertain the possibility.

In some ways, I think having a child makes you a more engaged member of your community. While I already believe that local issues such as school levies, library funding, public services etc... are very important, having children puts them in a perspective that is difficult to grasp otherwise. It takes them out of the theoretical realm and sends them spinning into reality. I don't mean to suggest that we're having a child because we want to play a larger roll in local politics. Obviously, there are a lot of reasons that we've decided to have a child. Mostly, I guess, it's about feeling like we're up to it and have something to contribute.

Now that we have considered it and are planning to begin trying to have a child next spring, I couldn't be happier about it and it really just feels right. Will I ever look back and think "holy sh-t what was I thinking?", absolutely - but I think that every worthwhile endeavor runs the risk of regret as well as the possibility of enlightenment.


I just read this back and realized that there are no links! Here are a few semi related links:

Check out the Kerry/Edwards plan for education!

If you haven't already, register to vote in this election! There is still time. Once you've registered, inform yourself with all of the tools you can find and cast your vote not only in presidential election but in all of your state and local races and issues. All politics is local!

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