Having proven myself to be an utter saddo, I'm going to redeem myself by applying logic, to a standard never before witnessed by man, to a conundrum which must have kept entire civilisations awake at night.
A few comments regarding pregnancy announcements got me thinking.
Why do we want it so badly?
'We', being most people, and 'it', being having children.
It's a very simple question, but funnily enough, I don't think I've seen too much in the way of answers.
In fact, the question is rarely even asked.
We seem to usually just accept that the need/desire/longing/wish exists, and it's origins or motives are never questioned.
Is it the 'need to leave something behind'?
I don't think so, I have no great desire to see my genes or bloodline carry on for all eternity.
Maybe for some people it's a bigger issue, but as shocking as this may sound to you, I'm not particularly that great a specimen of the human race, and I don't think the world would suffer as a result of me or my offspring not being around.
Is it a 'need to have dependants'?
I mean, if you think about it, no one in their right mind would actually desire having their freedom, patience, finances, sex lives, sleep, identity, and sanity bled dry for close to 20 years would they?
Baby bottoms might be cute on TV ads, but wiping excrement from someone else's anus can't ever be made seem appealing enough to make people want to jump through hoops to do it.
Is it the 'human need to procreate'?
Nature is pretty bloody smart.
Creatures evolve to survive, plants spread their seed across oceans stuck to the ass of seagulls, species that no longer serve a purpose die out. Nature, when left to itself, adapts and dictates how the planet continues.
Humans on the other hand, are hell bent on buggering the whole thing up. We do not need any more humans, we can't feed half the ones we have, and the other half are hell bent on destroying the place for the sake of a few bucks.
We are supposedly intelligent creatures, yet almost everything we do is another step towards Armageddon.
Needing more humans is not part of nature's plan, I reckon.
So what does it leave us with? Why is it so important to us?
When you first make the decision as a couple to have a child, it's an exciting, bubbly, giddy time. Two adults acting like kids. You want to tell anyone who will listen.
You go through all kinds of mini battles.
You see people spending a fortune to achieve it. You see people put their bodies through all kinds of strain and abuse to get there. You see people willing to have their most intimate details exposed and discussed in the most sterile, clinical manner. You see people writing all sorts of drivel and making fools of themselves, just to get through the waiting.
Obviously, as the ever observant among you will have noticed, we haven't gotten that far, but when you succeed, I can only imagine the excitement to be verging on a threat to one's continence.
I think you look on more in envy at people who are expecting a child, than those who have them, so is the longing rooted more in the hope than the end result?
At risk of having my cynical head start to spin and fly right off my chubby body into the night, I'm inclined to think that the desire to have a child is not driven by anything tangible, but rather, simply by hope.
The hope for what might become, hope for shared excitement, hope for more happiness, hope more smiles, hope for a squeeze or hug. Hope for a little love.
(Fading out to the tune of John and Yoko, If anyone should find my head, I'd appreciate it back, cheers.)
Well I just wanted a little mini-me running around (and I got one, two really). Timing was more up to the wife. As to the logic, what's that?
You must have been reading too many of my poopie diaper posts...
I've been reading you for a while... the subject scares me, as there is chance i won't be able to conceive. i never wanted kids until i met my fiancée. i really hope i can mix our genes into a little being one day...
For me, it felt like a combo of being in heat (like a cat on a moonlit, Tom-less night) and that indescribable desire to smell and hold a baby I wouldn't have to hand back to its mother.
I still can't believe they are mine, all mine! (avarice! greed! materialism!)
Another reason I wanted children was to be able to relive that funky world of make-believe, have an excuse to sing goofy songs, read Richard Scarry, and do somersaults in the grass. If you're doing it with a kid by your side, the doctors are less likely to stick you in the looney bin.
I think that is it. Hope and love.
Also, absinthe. - Its bad manners to disregard the lesser things that keep you going once hope and all that rubbish fails!
Shame on you Xbox.
I loved this post! I have once heard wanting a baby called a completely selfish act. I mean, after all, if one truly wanted to just be a parent to someone, there are hundreds of thousands of kids in the world who need adopted! And like you pointed out, when you think of how much work babies and kids are...it doesn't seem so appealing! But, we still have this innate drive. And I LOVED seeing that pregnancy is often more desireable than actually having a baby written down by someone else. Because I think that is how I feel. I always get more jealous of someone's pregnancy than of someone's newborn. The sight of a baby belly will send me into a fantasy of making another and feeling him/her move inside of me...wondering what the gender is, what day will they arrive, what will the delivery be like...I think pregnancy is such a time of anticipation and surprise and there are such few surprises left for the human race nowadays. No wonder it is so appealing. There is all of this wonderful anticipation and some jealousy at the birth of someone elses baby, but when the baby is born...it loses its luster very quickly to me. Now, the baby is here; we know what day he was born, how much he weighed and what he looks like. Now, you both are just another couple of SUCKERS getting no sleep and having no time to yourselves! And that is actually how I get through those jealous moments when someone annoucnes a pregnancy: "Yeah. Okay..you have a baby. I'm going to be over here...sleeping all night. Have fun!" But, part of me is always still jealous and wanting what they have! I often have to pee in the middle of the night and when I wake up, stumble my way to the bathroom in a sleepy haze, I think: "Now, would I REALLY want to be dealing with a screaming newborn right now?" Usually the answer is no, but sometimes...it still doesn't seem so scary! I've been meaning to write another blog about my ambivalence..it'll happen soon. But, nothing in my life is more confusing than my feelings about having babies; the agony and ectasy of becoming a parent.
Because it's there.
Best response to why--EVER!
I can't tell you why the desire was there, but I knew that it would be one of the few things in life that I would excel at. The kids may have a differing opinion, but I learn just as much about myself as I do about them each day.
@Russ - Timing eh? whats that...
@Tatty Franey - Welcome! I understand the fear, for obvious reasons now.
Best of luck to you, I hope it works out well.
@Geeksinrome - brilliant response, as good reasons as any!
@Jo Beaufoix - Yep, that's my theory anyway.
@Joe - Absinthe eh? makes the heart grow fonder, I'm told...
@AnnD - Great to see I'm not nuts and there some reflection of reality in it!
@Ed - My brain can't quite handle the cryptic nature of it all...
@Nukedad - You know, I think I'm the same. I'm really struggling to put a finger on why, I'm just fairly confident that I'd be good at it.
But why dammit, why???
I think you nailed it with the human need to procreate. From a biological standpoint, there is no other mission on life for any living thing than to reproduce. Sorry.
And all our big-ape brain human logic can not overcome that urge to do what we're driven to do. We're hardwired to think that babies are precious and we're hardwired to want them and to want to protect and nurture them.
It's pretty simple, really. All that other gooey love stuff is just the icing on the cake of the need to make more of us.
And it's pretty sweet icing sometimes.
I think you head just landed on the road outside the office and got splatted by a juggy nort. Or was it a pigeon??
I only ever wanted dogs, our family aren't into procreating much. One day when I was 29 I suddenly started feeling like a baby was the most important thing in my life.
Now my two boys (one of which was a complete fluke btw)are the most important things in my life (w-ell maybe my i phone......???) nope ARE the most important things but dogs are much less hassle.
I watched a docu about the Ku Klux Klan the other night and thought to myself that I would be sure to teach my children so differently than those men were taught. And then I had the amazing realization that *my* children could be the people that finally make a difference in the world, that maybe they would be teaching ME.
I had another theory as to "why" a few months back, that I posted about here: http://pregnantbetweenthelines.blogspot.com/2008/06/on-radio.html
But you're right - it's not about the tangibles. It's about the hope.
I don't even know that I've ever even thought about the why, but I think your logic is pretty close. To create something with my husband, to do something great, to fill my heart. I often say that I had no idea my life was missing something until the first time I held my son. I know it's cheesey, but he makes me feel whole. I don't know how else to describe it.
this is the kind of stuff i have been saying all along on your blog, xboxfornappys
All I've ever wanted in life was to be a mom - why, I don't know exactly. Unconditional love? Both for someone and from someone? (at least hopefully! if I do things right!)
I really don't know why - I just know it's all I've ever wanted - I feel blessed and know that you too will one day be asking each other - "THIS is what we waited soo very long for?"
@Ms. Moon - Spoilsport! where's your romance?
@Tismee2 - and a fine job you have done too of raising your iPhone...
@Amber - My head hurts thinking about it ;0)
Nice post too.
@Jenni - Funny isn't it? no one seems to have ever really wondered why?
@Putz - You are the wind beneath my wings....
@Darcie - It HAS to be the reason, doesn't it? otherwise, it would make no sense.
I think so too. I think also that love is so big, so cool, so awesome, so expansive (not expensive, though heaven knows, in the end, it is that too), that it just craves more and more outlets. We can't contain it. It overflows out of us, and where better to send it than to another person? :)
Well put and something I hadn't thought about. Why is it that I even care? That it still hurts? I'm sure it's different for different people, but that longing and hoping desire to love has to be pretty common.
I want to be a mom. Since I was 18, I've wanted absolutely nothing more. I want to love a child that I get to raise into a good adult. I want in on that inner circle of parents that say I just can't even begin to comprehend or imagine the kind of overwhelming feeling of love and fear and joy and worry and whole gamut of emotion tied up in being a parent. Unfortunately, it's looking like I may not be able to afford either adoption or IVF before I'm too old to think it fair to the kid. I wouldn't want to saddle someone with an old woman for a mom when they are in junior high. See, I already I feel concerned and maternal about the kids I don't get to have.
Sorry for the long comment, but it's such a great question that hit home here.
You all still have quite a bit of hope, and I'm hoping for you.
everything you do is merely another step towards armageddon.
you made an awful generalisation there, i'm sure there's some sick f*cker who likes cleaning other peoples arses.
Its a question I often ask myself too.
All of the eight year olds who live near me are little fuckers and I don't know that I want one.
But then I cuddle my nephew ... damn. I'm in this for the long haul.
lds.org not .com
I can't really answer the "why" question either. It's a myriad of reasons i suppose. But I am getting tired of wiping butts....been doing it for almost 5years now. When will it end?
Parenthood has also brought me Tai Chi, which I love doing. I soooo needed a way to relax, debug and chill out after being driven crazy by two pre-schoolers.
Oh and if you want a really good and most likely interesting question to your answer....go to your local school and pose your question to any 6 year old. They'll be sure to give you their thoughts on the subject. These little being can be quite enlightening.
I have often thought of this topic in my own TTC journey. Why on earth would we subject ourselves through diapers, no sleep, miscarriages and whatnot.
The hugs and kisses that a mom gets from her children makes my uterus go into spasms. That's probably why. So I getchya.
As C and I turn over the question of when (and if) to try again, I often ask myself these same questions. Why try so hard to do something so difficult? Why endure such heartache? Why care so much? Especially when the process of raising the little buggers is so long and physically, mentally and financially exhausting?
Before we got pregnant with the boys, we started to seriously consider considering adoption. Since we lost them, and despite the difficulty of the pregnancy and pain of losing them, I find myself, well, finding that I *really want* to try again. I really want to be pregnant again and in all honesty, I don't know why. I know I'm not ready, but I know I want to be some day.
Maybe it *is* hope. Hell if *I* know.
@Marie - THATS what I call getting into the hippy vibe I intended!
@Maggie's Mind - No apologies, it was agreat comment.
There are many ways to get to where you want to be.
I wish you the best of luck.
@B - Now there's a thought I hadn't really wanted on a Monday...
@Womb for improvement - perfect example, but why dammit? I havent a clue.
@Putz - I had a look, unfortunately the big boss and me aren't realy on speaking terms. So it's not something for me, thanks anyway.
@Kathryn - maybe one of them would have an answer, I know I'm at a loss.
@Kittyconcerto - another good example, why go through it. Inexplicable.
@Sue - I had wondered what your thoughts or plans would be but was afraid to ask.
However it comes around, I really hope it comes.
I cant explain it, not in any way that would make sense. The only thing I can come up with is because I said so!
And the big guy and I dont speak either. =)
It's all about being needed. It is one of the best feelings out there.
Here is my stab. Because the thought of getting to the end of my road; this life; without having had the opportunity to experience the kind of joy that children bring - really saddens me.
More than that? I have a lived a life so absorbed in myself, and my needs - and my time - and my wants. I desire, more than anything in the world, to understand the love and sacrafice and selflessness - that a parent has for their child. It is THAT, so I hear...wherein lies the MYSTERY of the DESIRE to make, and grow, and be responsible for another human being.
it's right though... lotsa strange people out there y'know.
What AnnD said. Completely.
The urge to procreate is definitely genetic (nature), how one justifies the urge is more nurture. Just because we know that the planet does not need more humans does not change the fact that it is genetically ingrained in us to reproduce.
I'd agree about the hope. There's a lot of joy in having kids, but it's fucking hard.
I think it's a lot to do with wanting someone to love unconditionally too. To be completely involved with someone. They are a repository for all your aspiraitons and ideals and love.
And then they arrive and you curse all the things that made you want them in the first place :) Not all the time, just sometimes.
I dunno. I think I'd disagree with the nature v humans split as you have it. Like The Matrix teaches us, there IS no us. Or them. (Ok, it was a feckin' spoon, but spooning you have enough of, no?)
Anyway, the great Bil Bryson went on at some length about carbon-based life's insatiable desire to just be, as if it was powerless to stop itself. Indeed it probably is. From the ivy that I found growing in complete darkness in my grotty shed to the h-pylori multiplying in my gut to the pushchairs that you can't help seeing every fu*&ing where you go, life demands to be. And when it's done with you, whatever you happen to be, it will deconstruct itself and reconstruct itself as lots of other things, like the head-wreckingest transformer you never got for Christmas. And it doesn't care what you were either.
Oops. Got a bit deep there.
Here, what's brown and sticky?
its all about the love man
and the poopy diapers
I believe the need is totally primal. Something we have no control over.
You will get to be a Dad (and an awesome one at that!). I just know you will. :)
Lovely post. Funny how we who struggle to conceive have given such consideration, and apply such logic, to this question. Ah.
Thanks, X. I appreciate it.
You just want ET to look fatter and sillier than you do.
That really is a fascinating question.
Admittedly my first child was a surprise and truth be told I was far to young to be anyone's father. I divorced after having two children and missed them dearly for a very long time. By the time I had my third child with my new wife I simply wanted to have a child I didn't have to share. One I could love, mold and not have to give back. We are having our third soon for a grand total of five and the reasons continue to evolve though hope and happiness for all (parents and siblings) is chief among them.
I know we keep saying this but man, you two are going to be so good at this mommy and daddy thing.
it happened to me by accident, but now i'm glad. i'd planned to wait til i had more money saved.
*deep bow* Thank you, thank you very much. ;) I'm all about the tie-dye today.
While I'm typically a big proponent of biological imperative as an explanation for things, I think "a little love" is more realistic when it comes to peoples.
I'm for the love and hope. I reckon we're about relationships. Like everything else, these can turn to complete crap, depending on the choices we all make.
BUT, I think so many of us instinctively believe this particular relationship has the potential to be incredibly rewarding, and therefore worth a damn good try.
I have a number of vague reasons why I want to have kids. One is when I see my nieces and nephews, and especially the ones in whom I can see a little bit of myself. I just want a little Mini John or Jane. And when my little devil child niece climbs up on my lap, gives me a big hug and says "I love you Auntie Jane", I just want one of my own, even though she might wreck my head most of the time.
Another one is that a good few kids I have met down over the years have seemed to think I should be a mother. I remember baby sitting for a friend of my parents one time when I was seventeen. My oldest charge was six, and at this stage I thought that I wasn't really used to younger kids, being the youngest of my family and not yet having any nieces or nephews at the time. Anyway I played games with him, chatted with him for a while, when he asked me "Are you a Mammy or a girl?" I told him I was a girl, and he replied "Oh, I thought you were a Mammy. None of my other babysitters talk to me". A good few other kids have said the same thing to me since then, so I think I just might be good at it.
And of course I think I am such an outstanding example of human beauty and intelligence, that I couldn't possibly deny the world a continuation of my genes ;o)
@Sarah - he's a tough one to get through to ;0)
@James Austin - thay may very well be as close to the truth as we'll get I think.
@Stella - nice one, feasible reason too.
@B - and a few around here to boot...
@bsouth - Agreement!
@The Microbiologist - I expected as much... ;0)
@jothemama - nice one.
@nick McGivney - Deep!
Lucky its lunch time.
But sort of understandable!
@Snowmanpoop - peace dude!
@TW - like, beastiality?
@Nola - Just hit me how much it's NOT asked!
@Sue - very welcome.
@Anja - not possible.
@Chuck - Nice one Chuck. We have the theory part of it nailed anyway!
@Muskrat - so often the way, no regrets.
@Marie - nutter. ;0)
@A free man - Darwin is gonna be SO pissed with you...
@Amy - Yes! more hippy stuff, I love it. thanks.
@Jane G - Thats just too bloody sweet.
'are you a girl or a mammy' I can absolutely hear it.
My husband's dad and his new wife (don't ask) have these two friends who have no kids. They have a house in Spain, they eat out all the time and drink as much red wine as they want. I find them particularly obnoxious but even setting this aside I look at them and just think 'what is the point of you?' They are pushing 50 but their lives haven't changed or moved on in the last 30 years. And what lies ahead for them? More of the same, but with numerous wrinkles caused by too much Spanish sun and aforementioned red wine? No graduations, weddings, grandchildren...I think that's why. Children give us a future worth looking forward to and a legacy worth leaving behind...
Well... there is that basic physical human need to procreate. Clever, clever nature ensuring the human race goes on. I think there's also an inherent spiritual desire - I don't mean to get all churchy, I just mean in addition to the physical desire, everyone, nomatter how screwed up they are, seems to want to put something into the future and help it grow.
I pretty much wanted kids because they don't think my dancing is stupid.
This is an excellent post - I nominated it and emailed it to my best buddy who's in the same boat and asking the same questions. I know she'll like it a lot too.
Mop up in aisle 8 is right :) There seems to be an outbreak of foot-in-mouth disease.
I am extraordinarily disappointed in myself to answer "I have no idea" to the question of why I want children so badly. I guess the simplest answer is that I feel like my life would seem less complete without them.
What a cop out of a response.
There was so much in this post that I could relate to. I grew up not being fantastic with kids; was never ever the type to ooh and ahhh over babies. But some urge took hold when I turned 30; and then when it became an "if" rather than a "when", the desperate need just got worse. I don't know if it was, for me, a matter of not being able to achieve something that I really had my heart set on (now how's that a cynic for you)... I am an overachiever, that I will admit.
But it must be more than that, I mean, we went through it twice. I don't want to think that I'm even beyond type A.
You are absolutely right; you don't see people making goo-goo eyes at you while your 2 year old is having a tantrum in the supermarket-- but when you're round with child, even the guy at the gas station wants to touch baby bump.
It must be hope, and I hazard a guess (from the romantic side of me) the possibility to create someone special with someone you love.
@Claire - I don't really know how to react to your idea that that couple have 'no point'.
Basically, that could be any one of us.
But I like your idea of why you think we want children. That's nice.
@Kat - Wouldn't you have been gutted if the said 'Mum, you can't bloody dance'?
@K8 the Gr8 - Thanks very very much for the shout, I dunno what to say about that really.
You did give me the best laugh at the fastest bloggy comment u-turn ever though ;0)
I hope things work out for your friend, it's a tough old road sometimes.
@Fate's Granddaughter - Funny isn't it? we are all reasonably intelligent and thoughtful people, yet can't really put a finger on this most basic of things.
@Karen Meg - You are a great example, the stuff you go through, for so long, and you just keep going for some inexplicable reason.
I was just reading on another blog that some people can take Robitussin and it helps them get pregnant because it thins out the mucous in your body, including cervical mucous so it makes it easier for the little spermies to get to where they need to be. Sorry if you've heard this before. I just wanted to let you know in case you hadn't.
kids are great ... that's all i can say
Why?...somebody to look after my weary bones at least they better bloody after I put them thru college - of course this is all hypothetical
Maybe it becomes more about winning the battle for us long time ttcers. Not acepting defeat, getting what is just within reach.
If some pimple faced virgin teen can go have a one night stand and get pregnant, then by god I can too, even if it takes me a year or two, or three.
I don't have any answere for anyone else, but for me? Being a parent is the only thing I am really good at it (which is actually very, very scary because I SUCK at it!), and they are part of my breath.
I think you hit the nail on the head at the end of this great post - "hope."
I'm still laughing my ass off at this one, and I'm inspired by the faintest hint of optimism...in the best way, of course. :)
For no other reason than because I simply wanted to be a mom... no other 'career' nothing I could point to and say that's what I want to be when I grow up. I just wanted to be a mom.
surely it is so someone is there to look after you in old age :-)
surely it is so someone is there to look after you in old age :-)
you nailed it with hope.
It´s funny how true it is that I too envy expecting couples more than ones with kids.
Hope? Yes, I think it has alot to do with hope. Especially when it is a hard thing to obtain.
For me, I just wanted children. It was a drive. I was compelled to have a baby and then longed for the next. Whatever that is, it is hard to turn off.
@AnnD - I hadn't heard that one...I'd be a bit wary about that myself haaha..
@Raino - As good a reason as any (Welcome!)
@Amy - Bloody hippies....
@Quickroute - thats why you marry a young 'un, surely?
@Paint it black - I think there is an element of that, when you struggle to get there, getting there in itself becomes the goal.
Not to be beaten etc.
@Kori - Sounds fair enough to me!
@iVegasFamily - You win, because you agree with me.
@Leslie Laine - I'm not very sure what you mean.
@Tara R. - Good reason. Clear.
@Conortje - That's just for those who PLAN to get get old...
@Bluestreak - Its true, which is why I think the practical side of it is not what drives us.
@Tiff - You are a baby addict is what you're trying to say....
I dunno man. I would google it or something. It was from this blog. It was the 2nd comment down....check out the post and see what you think. I want a baby Xbox in the world almost as badly as you and ET do at this point!
Reading that back it comes across kinda harsh - my apologies, although in my defence our son is 5 months and still getting up 3 times a night! What I mean is those people are childless by choice, and they seem to think their lifestyle is much preferable to parenthood, but to me all that stuff (holidays, second homes, etc.) seems a bit pointless in comparison to being a parent. I didn't mean it to sound that people without children are pointless!
I don't know that I had the answer when I was going through all that crap and wanting a baby so badly that I cried for months over our difficulties making one. But now that I have one -- albeit one that has just turned two and can be a snotty little devil when he wants to -- there are a couple reasons why they matter so much.
First, they are a seemingly-endless source of wonder and delight. My most raucous laughter and my biggest heartaches have been because of that little boy, and it never ceases to amaze me how, just when I think I've reached the bottom, I find I still have more to give.
Second, you long to be like them -- you live vicariously through them. They are so perfect and untouched by the world around them. The thought of Play-Doh makes my son ecstatic, and I get to borrow just a little bit of that when I'm with him. I get to be young again and devoid of cynicism.
Finally, my boy makes me see the world as a better place and makes me want to make it better. I am a better person for having him. I am less selfish, more kind and more concerned about everyone around me, even complete strangers and their children. Kids deeply connect you to the world.
Your time will come, and when it does, I think you're right -- you'll be great. You care so much that it seems impossible to me that you wouldn't be great.
Because I wanted to me not just a mom, but a grandma too! I wanted to make the world a better place and I knew that my children would have a hand in that. I wanted to have a little piece of me and my hubby to take care of and ove forever.
I'm now waiting for my grandma part and I realy can't wait.....
@AnnD - googling sucks.
you can find something to back up EVERY conception theory on there.
@Claire - nah don't worry, it's just if you don't know them, you never really know why people are the way the are.
@Missives from suburbia - I love the want to be like them one.
@hotmamamia - But no pressure eh? hahaha
You've written some amazing stuff, but this takes the cake . . .
"I'm inclined to think that the desire to have a child is not driven by anything tangible, but rather, simply by hope."
You are gonna be an amazing father, my friend . . .
@Tysdaddy - Thanks, it's a funny funny question I think.
Great post and very,very true.
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