Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Unanticipated fallout from having children

Tonight my lovely wife took me out to dinner for my birthday. It turned out that the manager of the restaurant was a friend of my son's from way back. He'd been in our house back in the day and recognized us despite our advancing age, and it was great to see and just chat with him again. Obviously, he was doing a great job because our experience there justified my choice to celebrate there. Seeing him provided an unexpected bonus for my birthday celebration - having an intimate dinner with my bride was great, so this was the cherry on top of the sundae.

But that's not what prompted me to write this, tonight. This delightful experience got me to thinking about how many of our friends have come into our lives as a direct result of the things our kids did during their formative years: the school and extracurricular activities of our children expanded our circle of friends to include a large number of very special friends. Not only did our children bring joy into our lives in their own right, but they put us in contact with a much wider circle of friends than we otherwise would have had. Many of those friends we acquired through being involved with our children have been and continue to be a great blessing in our lives.

For those of you who have not had children, I understand there are many things to be worried about when making the choice to be nor not to be parents ... the expense and trouble of being a parent: childhood illnesses, sibling rivalries, smart-ass teenagers, whiney behavior, etc. I won't deny that being a parent carries with it a heavy burden of responsibility and asks of us some things that we love to gripe about with our colleagues in parenthood - but which people with no children can't possibly understand.

Nevertheless, in addition to the many wonderful moments that children offer to you that (in my experience) more than compensated for the challenges our children presented us ... they will give you the opportunity to develop relationships with other adults that can enrich your lives far beyond your expectations. I never knew that such important contacts might flow from the apparently simple choice to have children. I never imagined that my life would be so vastly blessed with new friends and relationships that have become profoundly important to us.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to my children ... both of them ... for everything they've added to my life. I'm only now beginning to appreciate how much I would have missed had we not chosen to bring them into the world. It was the right choice for us. I can't thank you enough, Chad and Heather.