My wife and I often joke about writing a book entitled If We Had Kids… We are certain it would raise the ire of every parent that would read the About the Authors piece that described how we have no children. We would be serving as the armchair quarterbacks doling out sage wisdom that was not discovered through the scars upon one’s psyche earned through the process of child rearing. We would be placed in the stockades in the middle of Parentown by an angry mob of mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted moms and dads, pitchforks with impaled diapers and homework raised, the 1st Amendment standing in the background waving us off, saying, “you guys are on your own.”
The biggest problem I see with the title of the book, other than the fact that it would have been written by a couple of middle-class DINKS, is that nobody has kids. People bear children and raise children and teach children and feed and clothe children, but they don’t have them. Although children are under the care of adults for nearly two decades as they grow and mature and learn how to function in the world, they are still embodied with free will, individuality, and personality. Quite simply, they are not possessions.
I would like to see people substitute the term having kids with the term creating kids. The children we bring into the world are of our own unique creation that no other person can replicate. They are the quintessential form of personal expression of our uniqueness. We instill our values into our children so they can contribute to creating a world we want to see realized. Once we have accomplished this, we can only release them to the world when they become adults. The designations of mom and dad are now but associative titles of relation rather than designation of keepers.
I decided to be so bold as to illustrate my point through raising offspring, an experience of which I am richly devoid. Nonetheless, as producing and rearing offspring is the pinnacle of creativity to many, I felt it was rather appropriate. You see, that which we create, whether it be children or art or music or building structures or a company or a necklace or a quilt or a novel, they really truly are not our own. Even if we choose to keep it or possess it, its true value is realized when we acknowledge our creations are our gifts to the world.
Even if we were to custom build that house from the plans that we created, we leave that house standing as a gift to whoever moves into it long after our flesh has turned to ash or soil or crab food. When we see the products of our creations as devices through which to acquire stuff or satisfaction, we are really missing the point. We might be driven to create then we stand and admire our creation with great pride, but it really is no more than a chachki to put on a mantle that has to be dusted every week unless we give it to the world. That’s when our creations truly come alive and expand into the great network of life.
So let us share our creations. Don’t keep that novel in the drawer. Don’t hold onto our sons and daughters so tightly in fear of losing our identities if we release them to the world. All that we create is meant to be given away. If you’ve ever wondered what it means to have one’s cake and eat it too it is to say that we can make the most beautiful cake in the world and put it under glass to admire throughout the rest of our days, but we’ve totally missed the point of cake if we don’t share it to be eaten.