I’m not a parent. And I have no plans of ever becoming one. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the concept.
And I have one question for those considering bringing another living, breathing, tiny human into this world: Will you love it?
You could have a boy. Or you could have a girl. He could be short. She could be tall. Attractive or homely. Smart or slow. Quick-tempered or easy-going. You could have a child who’s mentally handicapped. Who suffers from anxiety. Or multiple personalities. You could have a child who is blind. Or deaf. Your child could be gifted. A prodigy. A genius. You could have a boy who likes boys. A girl who likes girls. A boy who wants to be a girl. You could have a child born with no clear gender at all. You could have a child born with extra toes. Or one eye. Or no hair. Or terrible, incurable diseases. You could have a great athlete. A talented artist. A beauty queen. Your child could be perfect in your eyes.
Or they could be anything but.
And you have to think for a moment before creating that new person: Will you love it?
Now I don’t mean: Will you raise it. Teach the child right from wrong. Impart your beliefs, your prejudices, your religion. Rearing up an immaculate version of yourself who thinks the way you do, makes the same choices you do, never disappoints you. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about what happens when your freckled-face 13-year-old tells you he’s known he was gay since before he knew he was supposed to be straight. I’m talking about what happens when your all-star quarterback wants to go into theater. Or your Bible-school daughter wants to pursue Islam or Buddhism or atheism.
What do you do then? Will you love them?
Will you say Go on; explore the depths of your own soul. Find what makes you feel most honest, most joyful, most true.
Or do you call them a disgrace and declare they are no longer welcome under your roof. Do you blame them for making these “choices.” Choices like seeds planted in their souls. Choices that have been growing in them and with them and because of them. Choices that are tucked into the farthest corners of their being. Choices they have no choice in.
Will you love them?
There are no qualifiers for being a parent. But maybe there should be just this one: Unconditional love.
If you are not capable of it, I ask that you think hard before having a baby.
Because we all deserve to be loved.
No matter who we are.
10 thoughts on “before you have a baby”
Reblogged this on R is for Rogue and commented:
This made me think. As a mother, do I actually do this? Then I realize that I am doing what some of the things written here. I wanted my daughter to be like me. A better version of me. I guess this is wrong. i had to recognize the reality that she could never be me. I am a product of all my life experiences whereas she is a product of her own experiences that she encounters in her daily life. That also includes me and everyone else she comes in contact with. The environment plays a huge role in developing our humanity. It’s really not just the genes. Our choices vary because we will never have the same perception over our experiences (unless you’re also me). A wonderful read to start my Sunday morning. Thanks, writeamuck!
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I’m so honored that anything I wrote made someone stop and think. But I think just the fact that you DID in fact stop and think shows that you are a fabulous parent. You are absolutely right, though: children are not destined to become new versions of us, but their entire own beings and creations. And it’s a parent’s job to love that brand new being, in all its unique, unforeseen glory. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.
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I do like this post and agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment behind it. However I think many parents find it easier to simply love their child, than accept them for who they are – and love alone is not always enough when it still comes with judgements attached.
It’s not as easy a distinction as it would seem: raising someone to be what you think is a perfect human vs. loving someone for whatever kind of human they are. Thanks for taking the time to read and for your thoughtful comment.
Genna, this is beautiful! I love the message and the way that it is written and I agree wholeheartedly. I especially like that you equate love with more than just the simplistic “I love you” that we say to our kids. I can’t imagine ever doing anything other than what you advocate here – I couldn’t have imagined it even before I thought of having kids. I know so many people try to make their kids into something other than they are but I just don’t think that way. I’m not perfect – I make a host of other parental errors which I fret about incessantly – but this is thankfully not one of them.
Thanks so much!! You are so kind. And I have a feeling you’re a phenomenol parent. :)
Perfection! As a mom of three (one of them a 13 year old) I totally relate to this. No matter what anyone’s parental status we all deserve to be loved!!
Thanks Robbie!! :)
Genna, this is both beautifully written and a beautiful message. It’s something I often think about when I’m judging other people’s parenting approach ;) But really, it is the most important thing, isn’t it? I often tease my husband about our future kids when he is judgemental of people, ‘what if our son is gay?’ or ‘if our daughter is handicapped, what would you think if people called her retarded?’ or the biggest one, ‘what if our kids hate the ocean/surfing?’ Unconditional love is root of these questions, but I hadn’t thought of it that way before. Perhaps if we taught tolerance, unconditional love would follow. Thanks for this!
Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, Clare. I have similar conversations with my boyfriend, David–even though we don’t want kids. (Love that surver is an important qualifier for your husband. :) ) And I’m sure it’s much easier from a non-parent’s point of view, but I wish more people would REALLY think about whether or not they would be capable of love if their children turn out nothing like their expectations.
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