When Anaïs was 6 months old she did her first sign – the sign for milk, or as we call it La tete. It was truly one of my favourite moments. Ever.
Which got me thinking about the much talked about ‘rewards’ of parenting. Honestly, most of the first 6 months of her wee life (plus the 9 months prior) had felt like work to me and I had trouble relating to the famous parenting chant: “It’s hard, but worth it.” Not that it had all been terrible. Not at all. And of course (and I hate that I’m even saying this because, duh) I adore my baby. I literally, actually think she’s the cutest, smartest, most charming human to have ever lived. I am incredibly glad she exists. But in the day to day of parenthood, the work vs rewards lean heavily towards the work side of things. Yet in that singular moment that my daughter made her hand into a tiny fist, opened her hand and made a fist once again to tell me she wanted milk. In that instant, the HOURS and HOURS of putting her to sleep, the relentlessness of her needs, the daily drudgery of domestic life all did indeed feel ‘worth it.’ And in the months following, as she has developed more personality, increasingly shows genuine understanding of her world and participates more fully in it, these moments come with exponential frequency.
That’s the genius of the system. We’re wired to love these tiny monsters so much that 1 cute moment makes up for approx. 10 shitty ones. And my memory won’t tell me whether or not the shitty moments are reducing or if I simply love her more and more and thus don’t notice.
I struggled with the idea of having a child. It seemed (and still does) a selfish, emotionally-driven decision. Adding another resource-sucker to this over populated planet. To what end? Why do people do it? Why spend all of your time caring for the needs of another human who will inevitably grow up and, by design, be less and less in your life? I couldn’t work it out. I only knew, deep down that I would regret it if I didn’t and frankly, time was running out.
When analysed intellectually it still doesn’t make sense to me to have a child in this day and age, in this climate, in my financial position and with my inheritable flaws. But we are more than intellectual beings. We are also emotional and spiritual beings and the cost/rewards analysis of parenting means sweet F-all compared to the biological desire to procreate, the emotional highs of parenting and potential for spiritual growth that children bring to your life.
Intellectually I realise that my adoration for my child is biological. I understand the hormones involved in bonding and attachment. I understand that she doesn’t yet have the emotional maturity to truly love me, but is firmly attached to me as her primary carer, as the person who gives her what she needs. But none of that matters because the hormones involved with parenting are better than any drug I’ve ever taken recreationally. They are amazing. Her smile dazzles me. Her laugh is the best sound I have ever heard, ever. And to use another boring parenting cliche, my heart actually feels like it will explode sometimes. And it’s the best. feeling. ever. It’s worth it.