Your life is over when you have kids

I remember when we told people that my wife was pregnant with twins.

There were plenty of handshakes, hugs, and congratulations. But I also heard this line quite a bit:

“Oh man, your life is over!”

A common refrain, and one which all parents have heard expressed, in some variation or another, many times.

Of course it’s usually said with a smile and a laugh, but there’s a message beneath the surface.

Your life is over when you have kids.

I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot these past few days. Anyone who follows me on Facebook (find me here, by the way) has been treated (subjected) to the stories of our trials and tribulations as we have attempted to move from Kentucky to Maryland with our two kids, two cats (unfortunately), all of our belongings, and all during the holidays, in between family reunions, baptisms, and weddings.

Despite a serious flood in the living room from a cracked pipe, this week we finally thought we could settle down, put the finishing touches on the house, and carve out a new routine in our new home.

But the twins made other arrangements.

Luke came down with a bad stomach virus. He’s spent the last few days expelling fluids from various orifices, usually all over my wife or myself. Meanwhile, Julia developed a respiratory infection, which she kindly shared with poor, sickly Luke.

When it pukes, it pours — especially if you have small children in the house.

We took them to the doctor, despite the fact that I am newly self employed, and getting insurance on the individual market is now virtually impossible, thanks to the compassionate Mr. Obama and his wonderful “healthcare for everyone.” We’ve decided to go with a Christian sharing plan, but, naturally, the kids became ill before we could finalize our new insurance coverage.

It was an adventure in and of itself finding a place to take the kids. When we did, the doctor informed us that there’s nothing she can really do. These things will have to just run their course. That’ll be 400 dollars. Have a nice day!

Oh, but we did find out about Julia’s ear infection, so the trip wasn’t a total bust! (Hooray?)

I went to put Luke down to bed after we made it home from our productive trip to the doctor’s office. I feel sorry for the little guy. He’s in rough shape, and it’s not like he understands what’s going on, why he feels this way, or why that doctor was shoving things into his mouth and ears. I leaned over to kiss him on the forehead as I placed him in his crib. It was a sweet moment. Right up until he coughed phlegm right on my face. It even went up my nose. UP MY NOSE. I’ve never had somebody else’s mucus inside my nostrils, and I wish to God that particular streak was never broken.

That night, the kids woke themselves up coughing every 45 minutes. I think I slept at some point, but I’m not sure. Today, I sat down in my office intending to write a post about the Chris Christie scandal, but I was too tired to put my thoughts together. I started to send some emails instead, and I fell asleep mid-type. I was having those weird awake-dreams you have when you’re sleep deprived. I think Bill Paxton showed up in one of them, or maybe Twister was on TV.

In any case, if we’re swapping parenting horror stories, I’m sure many of you could easily outdo this little tale of sickness, exhaustion, and Bill Paxton. It’s run-of-the-mill. Totally unremarkable.

And so is this revelation:

Your life is over when you have kids.

It’s true. They were right. It’s over.

My life is over now that I have kids.

My life is over.

That thing that I called MY life. That portion of existence — that long, lonely chapter — when I lived for me, and me alone. That delusion known as my life, where I exerted, or thought I exerted, ownership over my whole self. Where I separated my life from all other lives, and lived to satisfy my whims and desires.

That’s over. That’s all over.

It’s not automatic, of course. I’m a fool, so I thought there would be a sudden transformation from Selfish Matt to Generous, Selfless Matt. I thought the moment my kids emerged from my wife’s body, I’d instantly morph into a mystical creature known as “Dad,” and my old habits and old self-obsessions would magically evaporate. I thought that the first time our kids woke us up crying in the middle of the night, I’d leap out of bed with a smile, prance over to them, and sing a song of comfort and reassurance. “Everything is OK children: Dad is here! I shall tend to your needs with happiness in my heart and joy radiating from my inner being!”

But the kids cried that first night after they were born. And I was tired, frustrated, and irritated that first night after they were born. And then I felt guilty for being tired, frustrated, and irritated. I don’t think I pranced or sang at all, in fact.

So I’m learning this lesson. I’m learning it slowly. There’s no other way to do it. I don’t get to cut to a whimsical montage full of slapstick parental mishaps, ending with a pithy slogan where I say what I’ve learned, and then we all live happily ever after. It doesn’t work that way. I’ve got to earn it, one sleepless, vomit-soaked night at a time.

I’m not living for me anymore. I never should have lived just for me, but now I can’t. Either I become less selfish, or I fail in my duty as a parent. There is no middle ground.

Maybe it could be said that parenting requires you to be the sort of person you always should have been. After all, my life was never really my life, anyway. I never owned it. It never belonged to me. There are only two things you can do to proclaim final ownership of yourself: commit suicide, or go to hell. That’s the horrifying irony of hell: countless souls, tormented in the Nothingness, shouting “MINE” into the abyss, forever.

Parenting is the precise opposite of both decisions. Parenting requires you to live, and to live for something greater than yourself. In fact, it requires you to redefine and repurpose your concept of self.

Surely, that doesn’t mean that I have no identity, or that I shouldn’t take time to unwind, or that I shouldn’t be sure to step away from the kids sometimes and take my wife out on a date. I learned the importance of these things from my parents. Mom and Dad were, and still are, famous for their rigorous adherence to date night. It could have been flooding during a hurricane during an asteroid strike during a zombie attack during an alien invasion — if it happened on a Friday, you better believe that Mom and Dad were still going out to Bertucci’s and coming home with a movie to watch together. They put each other first, and then the kids. One day, during my teenage years, when I was trying to play my Mom against my Dad to get something that I wanted, or to get out of some trouble I was in, my Mom finally even told me as much: “Matt, you’ll never get me to turn against your dad. He’s my first priority. Not you.”

That was a tough pill to swallow, but my parents were willing to give out the harsh medicine when the situation called for it.

So I get it. My kids aren’t my life. But I’m not my life, either. I was at one time, or I thought I was, but not anymore. And their lives are eternally tied to mine, and mine to their, and every decision that I make will have an impact on them, for better or for worse. This is a responsibility that I must always keep in mind, all of the time, no matter what.

It’s not my life. It’s hers, it’s his, it’s theirs, it’s ours. Ultimately, it’s His, and He has given it to them. So my life — MY life — is over.

This is true. This is beautiful. This is why parenting is a high calling.

And this is exactly why our society hates children.

No matter what anyone else says, THIS is why we’re experiencing historically low birth rates. It’s got nothing to do with an economic crisis, and everything to do with a selfishness crisis. This is why we dehumanize children, kill them, exterminate them. This is why we have less of them, and why we call birth control a “preventative medication.” It’s why couples who choose (note: I said CHOOSE) not to have kids will often refer to themselves as “child-free” — much like a recovering patient might call himself cancer-free.

We run around putting “my” in front of things that cannot be ours. It’s MY time, MY life, MY body. And then we conceive a child and we simply can not let go of the “MY.” Barney and Mr. Rogers failed in their mission to teach us about sharing. We kill a million babies a year just because we don’t want to share.

These are the truths I’m still learning, and still sometimes struggling to accept. It’s a long process. My kids are just starting to learn how to crawl. I guess you could say the same about me.

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261 Responses to Your life is over when you have kids

  1. Very well put. Parenting is a high, noble, and ultimately rewarding calling; not a punishment or a surrender. Thank you for so eloquently representing this perspective!

  2. Charles says:

    As always..there are elements I agree with and elements I disagree with.

    I whole-heartily applaud your attitude towards putting your children first. But I still call it my life. I chose to be with the mother of my child. I chose to have unprotected sex for the first time in my relationships. And I chose to stick by her when she became pregnant. I chose to learn and educate myself on being a proper father.

    I still see this as my life. I often respond to that statement with “you mean the chapter of my life without the greatest rewards is over.”. I point out to them that I choose to raise my daughter, I choose to be there and put her needs before my own. The truth is…that putting her needs before my own is never truly living for her. I could not look myself in the mirror if I walked out on my wife and daughter. I could not see myself as following my morals if I simply ignored the responsiblity of my choices. And I don’t want to be without my wife and daughter. No matter how infuriating either of them can be (and of course I am equally infuriating in my own ways) it does not deminish the joys I feel. For me, I see being a parent and husband as living for myself in the end. I am being true to myself and my values….I am being true to what I know as being the best I can be. So to those who say that having a child means your life is over….I simply smile and shake my head. It was the beginning of a new chapter.

    As far as those who are child-free and use birth control to do so? I dislike how many people put them down for such. A couple who does not wish to have a child and takes the responsible route of using birth control and protection is being just that, responsible. I do not include using abortion as birth control, as I do not agree with such. No matter how much protection you use this act has the chance of reproduction and every time you engage in it you take that risk no matter how careful you are. But before anyone blasts me for my statement about abortion, it’s only one aspect of my view and I simply refuse to enter a debate about it.

    But back to childless couples. If they do not want a child then it is best that they do what they can to prevent conception. Otherwise you run the risk of resentful parents or yet another child ending up in adoption. I say we let those who dislike children use every preventative measure that helps before conception.

    Having lower birth rates is not neccesarily a bad thing. We are the only species on the planet able to overcome the natural population controls that govern the natural world, perhaps this disinterest is yet another natural function to avoid further over-population

    • erin says:

      I wanted to take a moment to point out that Matt is not saying that those people should have kids or that people shouldn’t take birth control. He was commenting on people calling it being “child free” and “preventative” as though children are some sort of disease to be avoided.

      • Charles says:

        Well, if that is what he meant by his comment then I cannot disagree. Children should not be seen as a disease. That frame of mind did not even enter into my head. I imagine people simply do not wish to bear the responsiblity or do not have the urge to raise a child. I never would imagine one viewing children as a disease or reprehensible thing….I honestly cannot wrap my head around such a concept…that might be why I did not see his comment in such a light.

    • I agree, Charles, about those who do not care for children probably should not have them. Still, there is merit in the argument that we are a self obsessed society and I totally get what Matt says about putting “self” aside. The Bible is replete with the message of “dying to self”–Really, it all about balance. Matt’s mom was wise to let her kids know it was not ALL about them. Too many parents today refuse to parent raising kids who think it is “all about them”, refusing to grow up and take responsibility for anything. Just watched ABC national news about the teenagers who are having parties while parents are out of town and doing drugs and trashing their homes. Really, what responsible parents of teens leaves town with no supervision provided? Also, what is wrong with these selfish, spoiled teenage brats who allow others to trash their own home? Something needs to change! Also, who is going to take care of and provide for those parents when they get old and incompetent?

    • Mathew says:

      “As far as those who are child-free and use birth control to do so? I dislike how many people put them down for such. A couple who does not wish to have a child and takes the responsible route of using birth control and protection is being just that, responsible. ”

      100% agreed, it takes a lot of time, effort and money to raise kids. If you are not able or willing to put that time, effort and money into them, please be responsible and use birth control

      • R. says:

        Good post, Mathew. I married a man who refused to put his family first, too often. At one time he wanted his business cards (he was a salesman) to say “The guy with six kids” I was offended because it sounded like a boast and a request for sales on that basis, but mostly because he was hardly ever home and had even stated to me “the kids are your job and earning money’s mine” Ultimately, I paid a high price for having been so ignorant and short-sighted about what it took to be a father. Almost every male can impregnate a woman, but not all can/will nurture, provide and protect adequately. So, in his selfishness, he failed us. The amazing part is, that despite his failure in so many aspects, especially to be loyal and faithful to their mother – they love him and care about him even now in his failing health and old-age. Sadly they feel like parents to that parent and have little respect. It was a high calling he didn’t see – divorce was the consequence and many years of lonliness. So, while he still had a great chance for redemption/improvement, when the teen years arrived the undoing of successful family life was, they WERE allowed to come between their parents. Despite the fact that earlier when we sought counsel for behaviour problems we were clearly told to “close the ‘parent’s box’ and do not let the children come between you two.” It is impossible to explain how grievous divorce is and how huge betrayal by the father of your children is. A pain that NEVER leaves. Please, any young men, young fathers reading listen carefully to this blog’s message. Fatherhood is a very high calling and yes, you must be willing to put your wife and children’s needs before your own much of the time, BUT the time when your children want to live with you goes by so so quickly and you will miss them so terribly when they leave, so enjoy it – there is so much joy to outweigh the tribulations. If you want them to respect you be respectable and that does not include being self-indulgent. Mothers – never correct your husband in front of your children – they will not only lose respect for him if you do so but even more for you. Support is the way to growing an excellent father. Happily, fatherhood is an even higher reward than it is a trial especially because children automatically have a very high regard for father’s. You are instantly like a king in your home when you become one, so behave like the best leader and head of your kingdom – the rewards will follow and no regrets about the sports events you missed or the car you could have had. One of our children chose not to have children and I heartily support that decision. It is better than getting out once you’re in.

        • FatherVision says:

          R.
          Let me first thank you for sharing your story. I saddens me deeply to hear that your husband did not own up to is role and responsibility as a father. You hit the nail on the head when you said he missed his high calling. You also couldn’t be more right about the rewards of fatherhood being infinitely greater than any trials. I also applaud your exhortation to fathers to own up to the responsibility to lead their families. As a father myself, I resonate with these points.

    • Jill J says:

      sadly, some couples don’t have children because of the choice of one of them…one of my nephews really desired children…to the point where he and his wife actually separated at one point…they reconciled after he made the choice of being with her (and her mother…it’s a little complicated) over having children. i wonder what their lives will be like after her mother is gone, and they are in their old age.

    • Karri M. says:

      So true! I do missions in Africa. They have one baby after another. I asked “Why don’t they promote birth control”? The answer is, with birth control they get a false sense of security and stop using condoms and then HIV takes over even more. I was there last month and a very young mother, with her 6th child tied to her back asked me if I would take her baby with me back to America. It just doesn’t work that way. I have a Ugandan son that has just started a ministry over there for abandoned babies, which is daily. They leave them at hospitals, church’s and on the side of the road, umbilical cord still attached. And that’s the ones they find. The rest are left in the bush to die. To learn more, go to 141Impact.org. His first house is almost finished. He will have individual homes, a couple will keep up to 12 babies in each home, giving them a sense of family.

  3. Some wise advice from my mother (of eight), when i cried to her that my life was over and replaced with diapers, bottles, rice cereal, puke……. “This, too, shall pass.” Sure enough, it did..and actually rather too quickly, in retrospect. My youngest of three had his thirtieth birthday last week! Doesn’t seem possible, but it’s a fact. Your wife and yourself have my sincere empathy. Hold fast! This, too, shall pass!”

  4. Edna says:

    Everything, including our lives and the lives of our children is a gift from God. Becoming a parent is supposed to take the ME out of it all but unfortunately there are so many cases it doesn’t. Those are sad cases and I wish there was a quick cure. Yours is nice to read , commensurate with, and chuckle about. I have had baby vomit in my mouth that was not my own but related, and baby vomit that was not of my own babies … the second vomit was by far the worst. I finally learned where to position my mouth (or to keep it closed) when dealing with a baby that spews. One thing I have learned and it is something you probably have learned too; the grosser the incident the more fun it is to tell about. Thank you for perking my memory bank by sharing your experiences.

  5. For those who don’t have kids.they don’t understand the joy, happiness and sometimes sorrow that comes with being a parent. We have 4 boys in five years. It was touch. But we got through it. As they now have kids of their own, they are having them fast too. They saw how great it was for themand as parents, we survive and live on the memories.

    Del Benson PO Box 5310 Saipan, MP 96950 670 285-4335

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  6. Deanna says:

    My kids just went through similar illnesses and I have been in a funk from the sleep deprivation and self-sacrifice that it required of me. I’ve been thinking about myself a lot lately. Thanks for the reminder that “either I become less selfish, or I fail in my duty as a parent. There is no middle ground”.

  7. Kathi says:

    God bless you both and your twins. This, too, shall pass. As difficult as it is to deal with illness, especially when they’re so little, whatever virus this is will run its course and you’ll be enormously grateful to get a full night’s sleep. Remember this: Count your blessings.

  8. Totally! Everyone said my parents were crazy for having eight children. I can’t help but think “you’re selfish” but that won’t get me anywhere I know.

  9. Pingback: Your life is over when you have kids | Faith is absence of fear

  10. Karyn says:

    Matthew 16:25 “Whoever saves his life will lose it, and whoever loses His life for My sake will find it”! (The way up is down. )

  11. Yep, life as I knew it was over once I had kids too …. THANKFULLY! I think I can say that I truly began living at a number of different junctures in my life:
    1. When I was saved, and life truly became living
    2. When I fell in love and married. That was 22 (or so, I forget sometimes) years ago, and the extent to which I live increases with each year that passes
    3. When we had our first child, 20 years ago, and this completely non-maternal-instinct-like woman became overwhelmed with the love that flowed into my being for this child we were given. Four kids later and *that* love has increased with each year that has passed.

    So – life over? I can *truly* say that it just began in earnest with that first cry, in that Glasgow labour room, twenty years ago.

    • analyticalperspective says:

      Good idea:

      For me, it was:

      1. When I discovered someone loved me…that was Jesus Christ…I was 12.

      2. When I first loved someone else…my daughters…I was 24 and 26.

      3. When I realized I could be mended…I was 28.

      4. When I was fully mended…I am 36.

  12. Ben Egbert says:

    I 100% agree with what you have said. It is amazing that when a couple has twins that this realization hits much harder and quicker than it does with just one at a time. That being said, I could NEVER imagine “my” life without all 4 of my children (the youngest 2 being twins). “My” life would be incomplete without them.

  13. Lisa says:

    As I sit here pregnant with our fourth child, I am silently agreeing with what you wrote. I personally believe being a parent (generally) brings out the best in a person. It makes us mature more quickly, have better judgment, make better decisions, and basically be the people we were meant to be. I’m sure life could be lovely without my children but I am glad that is not my path. I am a better person since I became a parent. For sure. I am proud of my priorities and my values. I do “the right thing” a lot more. I think about myself a lot less. I had all of my 20s to be childless as my first child wasn’t born until I was 31. That was plenty of time.

    Also you’ll find as you and your wife continue on your parenthood journey that you really just start to embrace parenthood. You don’t care if you don’t get to eat out at restaurants that often. You like setting up the bunk beds or finding family friendly places to vacation. The puke and poop are still gross but it’s not a big deal anymore. You gravitate toward the friends that also have children. I’d say it took us about a year to really “get it” after we had our first child. That our life wasn’t really our own anymore. That we were on somebody else’s schedule and their priorities came before ours (again, generally). But once we made that transition (mental more than anything!), it’s been even better and more fun. We are parents now. It’s a terrific life and we are blessed to have it.

    • analyticalperspective says:

      I don’t know about more mature…at least for some people…but, yeah, for the emotionally stable people…more mature.

      • Lisa says:

        I think it matures you pretty quickly. If it doesn’t that’s unfortunate.

        • analyticalperspective says:

          Well, my father never matured emotionally. He was abused during his childhood, so that emotionally stunted him and as an adult he never chose to take responsibility for his actions. He’s emotionally insecure and lashes out anytime he feels threatened, real or perceived and he has a major inferiority complex so he likes to spend much of his time demoralizing others. That type of behavior does not make for good parenting. Personal responsibility, civic responsibility, and a desire to achieve self-efficacy in every way is paramount to reach the highest level of maturity. People who are emotionally stunted are not easily influenced by positive factors…this particular positive factor being children.

  14. Nate says:

    The comment that struck me most is the one I think I disagree with…The idea that some people are refer to themselves as “child-free” and comparing it to cancer is just so wrong. I love my children dearly (and forget twins, we had triplets!), but I can also deeply respect those who CHOOSE (just like you said) to not have children based on their grounded reality that they are, in fact, too self absorbed to ever be a good parent. I don’t think those people act as if children are cancers at all, rather they are grounded by their perception of themselves. I find that refreshing. I usually find that adults who are totally self absorbed make the CONSCIOUS step to become a “parent” because it gives them in essence another feather in their cap of the “american dream” , and THEIR choices and priorites in my opinion are much more messed up than someone who chooses a life without children. Then of course there are those who think only of themselves and a consequence of those actions results in a child, but that’s a different matter…

    At any rate, I just thought it was a mean blanket statement against those who have wisely chosen not to have children because they know themselves.

    • pentamom says:

      No, it was a blanket statement against those who use the same language for choosing to have children that is commonly used for recovery from a deadly disease. IMO it’s totally fair to say that the language is always invidious, even if the people themselves are making a permissible or responsible choice.

  15. obimomjacoby says:

    I don’t know which Christian Sharing plan you are part of (we are with Christian Healthcare Ministries) but I would imagine all of them do what ours does, and puts non-qualifying needs on a prayer page with donations possible. Ask. And talk to the doctor about discounts.

    Everything about parenthood is as theological as marriage is, only more hard-core. I love it.

  16. George says:

    I agree with the bulk of your post; the notion that, children do indeed grow individuals and that the unselfish parent shift their focus from their own desires to include those of their children and family. However, I have meet many child-free people, those who decided that they didn’t want to raise children, that are in mission fields, challenging professional/leadership roles that benefits society, and others who contribute to charity. Indeed, parents do not have a monopoly on spreading the gospel or leading an unselfish adult life. Why make such a distinction about child-free individuals when many are out there blessing others and serving the Lord?

  17. thePreacher'sWife says:

    This brought tears to my eyes! I was in Wal Mart this afternoon and there was a baby in the checkout lane – – maybe 2 or 3 months old – – crying rather loudly. The cashier made the casual comment that, “Somebody’s not very happy!” The woman in front of me responded to his comment with the most vile, hate filled look on her face and said, “I’m sure glad I don’t have any of those!!!” It broke my heart to think that people could hate children SO MUCH! And then I came home and read this, and you nailed it – – as usual!!! Selfishness – – that’s what it all boils down to!

  18. I agree with everything you said Matt except one thing. I believe economics does play a role in the low birthrate. My husband and I saw our selves having at least 3 kids and then reality hit us. We could not live on one income and yet we cannot afford daycare for more than one kid (and that is pushing it) Growing up my dad’s income was enough for a mortgage, two cars, food, clothing etc but that is not possible for us today and its sad because I want more than one kids

    • Delana says:

      Great post matt. I had my second child just before my first turned 5 and right after he started pre k. I couldn’t afford 2 in daycare either. To tell u the truth we don’t much notice the expense difference. The age gap is nice for us as well.

  19. Meghan says:

    Yes yes yes! Thank you, Matt. Our country is so full of selfishness nowadays, it is the root of so many problems. So many things could be solved if we just focused on others just as much. Having children is a noble calling. And it does not mean your life is over.

  20. mithriluna says:

    Raising a child, when our hearts are in the right place, is such a beautiful process of growth. As a parent, we are forced to make choices every day. Many times, we decide on doing the thing we least like to do but most of the time, it is the right choice. As a family, we grow together, as we strive to reach our full potential as true sons and daughters of The Father.
    Beautiful Matt – THIS is real and true life and real and true love. I am so grateful for your voice of truth to the world.

  21. Christine says:

    My husband and I are one of those couples who have CHOSEN to be “child free” as you call it. We tried at a time, and were painfully unsuccessful BUT, it was an eye opening experience for both of us. We learned, without a doubt that we really didn’t want to become parents. While I was pregnant before I miscarried, the overwhelming feeling of “OH MY GOODNESS WHAT HAVE WE DONE?” did not go away. I did not know that at the same time my husband was having the same feelings. It wasn’t until it was time to start “trying” again did we discover we both felt that way.

    My husband was honest and admitted he did not want to share me with anyone. I, after 10 yrs of marriage was very happy with the lifestyle God gifted us with. We both felt we would resent anything that would change that. Neither one of us have ever been big ” kid people” but BY NO MEANS does it mean we hate kids, nor do we condone dehumanizing, killing or exterminating them. To lump everyone who chooses (responsibly I might add) to be “child free” in those categories is VERY wrong and presumptuous of you. It was the best decision we have ever made. By the way, coming from a lung cancer survivor, your “cancer free” analogie is WAY off base.

    All that being said, we love ALL our nieces and nephews with all our hearts and would do anything for them. We really admire most all parents because I truly believe, even though it is wonderfully fulfilling and rewarding for some, it is one of the hardest things a person can do.

    I wanted you to “hear” our side of things…..all the best for you and yours.

    • Beth says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Christine. I’m 25 and in a serious relationship and considering marriage. Our relationship is wonderful in so many ways, but our biggest conflict is in this area. He is Catholic, while I was raised non-denominational by more liberal parents. My boyfriend believes that marriage is inherently fruitful, and that a marriage without children (or without at least trying for them) would be tragic in a way. I am undecided about when/how many kids I would want to have, and sometimes even whether I want to have them at all. My mom had extremely difficult pregnancies, and my gynecologist has suggested that I would likely have some of the same difficulties. My boyfriend is also against birth control, so we have a lot to work out (sidenote: I’m curious about Matt Walsh’s perspective on birth control. I’m pretty sure he’s writing from a Catholic perspective, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he had strong views in that area).

      Most of my boyfriend’s friends are in their early twenties, married, and were pregnant within the first year. I am uncomfortable with this standard, and I agree with you–I don’t believe anyone should be made to feel selfish for choosing not to have kids, or for choosing to wait. I also love my family and my friends’ kids, and have deep respect for the many strong mothers I know, but I don’t believe it HAS to be the identity of a married woman, or that she should feel any less of a woman than her mom friends. Motherhood is a beautiful, sacrificial life, but I don’t believe it is for everyone. That said, I haven’t ruled anything out, and I may very well become a mother one day (and I will commit myself to accepting everything that comes with it), but I appreciate hearing the perspective of someone who has had a great marriage without kids..

  22. Buttercup says:

    Great post, even if you wrote it while sleeping with Bill Paxton on your lap. As someone with 2 stepkids who struggled to get pregnant, I knew exactly what was missing from my life, and I could not wait to give that life over to motherhood. I struggle daily, but this kid always helps me to become a better version of me. I thank God each day for this blessing.

  23. Becky says:

    Thanks for this…as a mom with 2 little ones, I appreciate the perspective this brings to the everyday sacrifices we parents make every day. And it’s always good to be reminded that “our” lives were never really ours to begin with. We’re just given the opportunity to learn that in a much deeper/no denying it kind of way by having kids!

  24. analyticalperspective says:

    Hi, Matt, I came over hoping to tell you, “You’re wrong” and, well, you’re only partly wrong 😋 Okay. I don’t like the word “can’t”. I literally just finished informing another guy about the importance of “choice.” You’re not obligated to do anything. You actually “do” own yourself and only yourself; even God himself is not demanding ownership of you. Free-will, brother, free-will. You have two things going for you, which are:

    1. You have integrity. You believe in doing your best to do the right thing.

    2. You are selfish. Yep. You love to be loved. You feel joy looking at those twin cherubs that look so much like you and the woman who also just happens to bring you joy…and I wager that is more often then not. You love that they depend on you and think of you as “Superman”…just wait ’til they turn twelve and begin individuating.

    That’s it. That’s all. Sorry about the snot up the nose thing. Glad it happened to you, hope it never happens to me. 😷 Thanks for the laugh 😆

    BTW! I just moved from KY to MD, too. I’m hoping to get into youth and family counseling real soon 👏

    My daughter helped me find the emoticon bar. That kid…and the other ray of light…make me smile ☺️

    Almost forgot…http://analyticalperspective.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/choices-do-you-always-have-one/

  25. Kat Helms says:

    I almost didn’t read this post, and I read all your posts. The reason I hesitated was because so many people have written about their first time being a parent and realizing that they have to suffer through some sleepless nights and whatnot, but, “it’s all worth it!” they exclaim.

    I have spent a lot of time recently thinking that I should do more with my life, help more people, get a job and be more productive, etc. But then I realized that THIS is my life. Only this. Only these small acts of service, wiping butts, making meals, on and on and on and on…this is my life, to serve. And sometimes it’s not worth it. Sometimes it’s not worth it to me to be exhausted and forgotten, unproductive and muddling around in the mess only to do it again everyday. I don’t actually get much out of it. But its not about me. You are right, your life is not your own anymore.

    But it’s worth everything to them. Its worth their whole life. And it is a beautiful, joyful thing, for sure. And Phillipians 2:3-8

  26. Lisa says:

    My favorite part is your parents putting their marriage before their children. No one today agrees with my statement that you are married first, THEN you have kids. Once the kids are gone, what’s left?? If you don’t nurture the marriage, you’re doomed. As always, an excellent blog.

  27. Mathew says:

    “It’s got nothing to do with an economic crisis, and everything to do with a selfishness crisis”

    It might also have something to do with some people becoming more responsible. Kids take a lot of time, money and effort. Nothing wrong at all with people waiting till they are “ready”, or at least as ready as they will ever be.

    I submit that our country would actually be a lot better off if more people waited. Waiting till you are married, and in a stable financial decision to have kids is IMHO, one of the best decisions you could ever make either for you or your kids.

  28. Cheryl says:

    Matt,

    I love each and every blog you write. However, I have to differ with your comment regarding who in your family comes first. As a mom and wife, I’m tempted to think that my husband might come first in our family but my job as a parent is first to protect and nurture my child. In a perfectly functional family a father or mother would never be a threat. But if a child were abused or threatened by either parent, the other parent’s responsibility would be to remove that child from the abusive or neglectful situation. Forget date night or Saturday mornings with the bedroom door closed. MY wishes and desires as a spouse also stop when I bring a child into this world.

    • Delana says:

      ^^ that is an exception to the principle. No one expects anyone to choose an abusive spouse/parent above the child. And chances are, if a couple shares these views about how a healthy marriage works, neither of them will be beating the children (spanking not included)

  29. Jennifer says:

    My husband and I have been trying to start a family for eight years; we’ve been unsuccessful, and despite our very vocal desires, we STILL have to deal with people telling us we “don’t understand what it’s like” to be parents. Well, I don’t go around telling parents who’ve conceived multiple children easily that they “don’t understand what infertility is like.” We all have different circumstances, so we need to show respect to others on this sensitive topic.

    • Jen F. says:

      You are so spot on. Parents seem to only look at people without children as failures and selfish people. They don’t know if you just had your 8th fertility treatment. They don’t know if you are eating your dinner after finding out that the mother of the child you planned to adopt changed her mind after seeing her little miracle, after you paid her medical expenses for most of her pregnancy. But because if your desire to be a parent you don’t blame her for her decision as your heart breaks and you have to start all over. They don’t know if you were planning to try for children but just found out you had Stage 4 cancer. Now you have to make it through and pray you live, and then maybe just maybe you can have a child. They don’t know that the couple sitting next to you is laughing and enjoying their child free night out , celebrating because the husband is celebrating six months of being seizure free after suffering a closed head injury. They don’t know that the high pitched sound of the baby at the next table is deafening to him when he turns around and looks aggravated. It isn’t a selfish look I of “get that screaming baby out of here.” It is the sadness of realizing it won’t ever be able to work in his life with his neurological concerns. They don’t know that he wishes he could have children. No. All they see is that you do not have children. All they feel is that you are selfish and self absorbed. Yes all of the above eventualities have happened to someone I know. They never consider any reason you don’t have children other than you are selfish and self absorbed. You are either part of ” the club” or you are a self absorbed person who hates children. No middle ground.

      How sad that the parent’s super honed compassion for others and their better selves than those horrible childless barbarians cannot stop for one second to have compassion to think about this disparaging remark before they say it.

  30. katie says:

    I completely agree with you and I must say that being less selfish is something I’m struggling with right now. I’m trying to be less short tempered in the mornings when I didn’t sleep great. I’m trying to spend quality time with my three kids. I’m trying is all I can say. Hopefully I will improve in this area. One thing I do tell myself when I feel inadequate is that I love my kids, which sadly isn’t something every child receives.

  31. Ariel S. says:

    So brutally honest and true. It’s wonderful to know at least two children have great parents 🙂 I absolutely love watching my parents, as they are the same as yours…They put each other first, then us kids come after because their relationship will be whats left once we have all moved away. Thank you for unashamedly speaking your opinions.

  32. I feel for your kids, Matt. My family is also dealing with a lot of sickness, but at least we don’t have any babies in the house. It sucks just the same. I’ll pray for the little ones.

  33. Pingback: Your life is over when you have kids | Warriorpundits

  34. mykcmom says:

    There are so many beautiful truths in this post, the kind of beautiful that touches your soul.
    Some of my favorites:
    “I’ve got to earn it, one sleepless, vomit-soaked night at a time.”
    “I’m not living for me anymore. I never should have lived just for me, but now I can’t. Either I become less selfish, or I fail in my duty as a parent. There is no middle ground.”
    “And this is exactly why our society hates children.”
    and of course, I that this reminds me of “There Goes My Life” by Kenny Chesney.

  35. Debby says:

    Matt, I especially enjoyed reading this post because it describes well something I realized around the time my oldest was about 6 months old. I realized that I had no natural mothering instinct and that I was inherently selfish. My beautiful baby girl was such a source of stress and emotional exhaustion. In fact, the first night she was at home with us, we put her to bed. Still recovering from 29 hours if labor, I was totally wiped out. Completely in a fog. When she awoke crying because she was hungry, I turned to my husband and said, “What is that????” But then it occurred to me that God put this miraculous little person into my life to help me get to Heaven. If I could only give more of myself to God and my husband and her, I would be on the right track. Now, 16 years and 8 (9 total) kids later, I found myself up in the night with a sick baby. As I snuggled and rocked his poor inconsolable self, I stroked his hair and thanked God for the opportunity to hold my baby in the peace of the night. I just loved him so much and I was acutely aware of how different my attitude had been all those years earlier. I am not saying that it is all rosy and lovely, but I have definitely settled into my role as Mom and selflessness is just a given. Even when I feel like the human spit up rag.

    Thank you for your post!

  36. Terry says:

    Thank you ,
    God bless you and your family!
    I just came across your Facebook page.
    You are truly a treasure I have found..
    I pray healing a restoration for your family

  37. Amy says:

    How can anyone fool themselves into believing their life belongs to them any more than they can claim credit for creating the trees and grass? That’s simple arrogance.

    This is a BRILLIANT monologue. A friend sent it to me as I was ranting about parents who can breed like mice all day and then go to Walmart to complain loudly how their children are the bane of their existence. So many people who desperately want children are infertile. It’s really a sacrilege to complain when you have them. They are God’s greatest blessing.

    So beautifully articulated. Thank you – made my day.

    • Jen F says:

      Children are indeed a blessing. They are not one that everyone has the pleasure of receiving. They are not blessings that God chooses to grant to everyone.

      There is only one possible conclusion from this post and from every response that supports the author. That conclusion is:

      ” F You if you don’t have a child. You are selfish and conceited and self absorbed. You are less a person than I am. You are less deserving of kindness and compassion from others no matter what happens to you. Don’t you see? If only you had children, you would have worth in this world. Instead, you just occupy space as a useless piece of garbage upon this earth. Mr. Street Sweeper, please come flush this garbage down the drain.

      We do not care if your husband served in the military and sacrificed his life for the freedoms of others and came home with paralyzed and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury after his convoy was hit by an IED. We don’t care that you love your husband so much that you will spend the rest of your life bathing him, pushing him in a wheelchair, and caring for his toileting needs. We don’t care that you will wipe your husband’s butt for the rest of his life and help him pee. We don’t care that you will help bathe your husband for the rest of his life. We don’t care that maybe one day your husband will wear a colostomy bag. That’s NOTHING compared to having a child. It’s not even close. You still don’t matter. You are still selfish, self-absorbed and completely devoid of compassion for your fellow man. Screw you childless person. You human piece of garbage. Screw you and the man you married who sacrificed his life for a cause he believed in.

      You were going to school to be an oncologist? You saw your niece die from cancer and you wanted to help other families not experience that pain? You are a pediatric surgeon? You spend most nights of your week sitting with a mother who has is losing her child. You decided that maybe you were too busy helping parents not lose their children, so you did not have your own. Oh, that’s really sweet, but you are not a mom yourself so your life’s work does not matter you selfish piece of garbage. ”

      Really, that’s all this post is. An excuse to be incredibly cruel and hateful to people without children.

      You really have NO idea why some people don’t have children. You have no idea what goes through their minds and why they make their decisions. Your post says “If you choose to marry a person who cannot have children, you are selfish.” Oh, that’s right. I can adopt. I need to jump right on getting that money.

  38. Julia Lee says:

    Our society hates children? Lower birth rates and higher abortion rates aside, have you actually looked around you? The US of A is up to its eyeballs in child worship. We give every child a trophy just for participating now, because we don’t want to hurt their fragile little psyche, and tell them that not everyone gets to be a winner all the time. There’s a movement to try and stop teachers from using red pens when they grade tests and homework, because they’re afraid of hurting the child’s feelings. Parents are being told that they’re no longer allowed to even raise their voices, let alone spank their children when they need it, because it will scar their children for life. This society doesn’t hate children, it worships them. It underestimates them. It forgets that it survived all of these things, and grew up to be emotionally stable productive members of society. It’s no wonder that so many children these days are obnoxious little brats with huge senses of entitlement. I agreed with the rest of your post, Mr. Walsh, but not about this society hating children. It’s quite the opposite, and obsessively so.

    • FatherVision says:

      Julia,
      It would seem at first glance that you are right. But consider this bit of wisdom:

      Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
      – Proverbs 13:24

      According to this view, the most hateful thing we can do to children is to do the things that you labeled as “worship.” When viewed through this lens, your points about child worship actually affirm Matt’s points in his post. Not only do we hate children enough to prevent their existence and mass murder them, but we also hate them enough to “worship” them and treat them in such a way as to turn them into incompetent narcissistic “adults.”

    • Q says:

      hear, hear

      And as someone who has chosen not to have children, I just love being told I must hate children and/or I’m selfish. That never gets old. I could say all parents are judgmental Aholes who feel superior, but that wouldn’t be true, either. Just because some are.

    • pentamom says:

      It’s arguable that it hates what children really are, and loves some vision of child as fashion article and personal fulfillment device.

  39. FatherVision says:

    The final few paragraphs of your post hit especially hard. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I also wrote recently about this issue of hating children: http://www.fathervision.com/the-curse-of-hating-children/

    I have also written about what the opposite looks like: To believe that children are a blessing. See here: http://www.fathervision.com/what-does-it-look-like-to-believe-that-children-are-a-blessing/

    Thanks for adding your voice to the growing chorus that is calling out the lie of our culture that children are a burden and a curse. They are nothing of the sort. They are a blessing. Parenthood is a blessing. Fatherhood is sacred. It reminds me of a quote from C.S. Lewis:
    “An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe. [speaking of George MacDonald]” – Phantastes

  40. Megan Volmer says:

    OK, I have been reading your blog for a few months and really enjoy it. Welcome to the world of parenting. I always say it is the toughest job you’ll ever love despite the fact that my husband is a hard charging Marine who has been in theater 4 times – Persian Gulf, Afghanistan twice and Iraq. Twice I have gone to the delivery room sans husband to welcome home a beautiful baby girl (four times he got to share the bedlam). You are now playing man to man coverage – with baby #3 you go to zone defense! Oo-rah!

  41. Dana says:

    During my engagement to my husband, I was besieged (as most bride-to-bes are) with questions about when we would start our family and how many children we ‘planned’ to have. Countless times I answered with confidence that I was having one boy and one girl; and if I had two boys, I was giving one away! I kid you not. Okay…I was young and still a little scarred from having three wild, younger brothers. But my sentiments came primarily from my upbringing to that point. You see, I had been aggressively programmed by my parents, public education and the media that to live a fulfilling life, I should keep children to a minimum (self-replacement was sufficient), find myself a great career, travel and see the world. All of which, I realize now, would have been a daunting accomplishment, even I had stopped at two children! However, this was the life that was presented to me as being a “good” life. An enjoyable life.

    Luckily for me, God had other plans for me. Luckily for me, I responded to His courtship of my soul and His incredible Love for me and responded as generously as His grace could muster in me. Motherhood and the education of my children was the vocation that God had chosen for me all along. The ideals that the world presented, were not remotely like God’s plans for my life and my happiness. He wanted an example of joyous family life in an increasingly broken society, and my husband and I have tried very hard to overcome our own individual ‘darkness’, to be that light for Him. Scratch that. We have tried very hard to open ourselves enough to God’s Will that HIS light will shine through us. On our own, it wouldn’t have been much of a glow. 🙂

    We now have eleven children. And our life thus far has been a wonderful adventure. Not without trial and tribulation, but not without laughter and joy either. I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling life. Our eldest is 28 and is one of the most incredible people I know. The youngest just turned five and yes, sometimes he still pukes on me. The rest trickle down in age between these two. Six daughters, five sons and a wonderful husband of 30 years 🙂 My five oldest kids are adults now and in different parts of the world, in different ways, are all doing wonderful things for God and the world. The world needs them and wouldn’t be the same without them. Nor would I.

  42. faerylandmom says:

    Yup.

  43. Matt, I think what your kids contracted has been going up and down the East Coast among children. My 11-month-old son got RSV Christmas night (well, that’s when his fever started), then once we got that cleared up (mostly), he got a stomach virus.

    Of course I got the same virus on the same day. And then my wife got it the next day. My wife also got a cold from my son, since RSV is contagious.

    So yeah, not an easy time to be a parent at this time of year.

  44. The funny thing is when this showed up in my inbox I couldn’t see the whole title but I could finish just from hearing that phrase so often! Your point is so well made and my inspiration to be a better parent has been renewed thank you.

  45. Rixfmly says:

    Matt, I had to laugh at the visual you painted of Luke’s coughing phlegm on your face. When our son was about Luke’s age he had the stomach flu and began to vomit. As I called out for my husband with baby in my arms he spewed vomit into my face…and into my open mouth as I yelled “RICK!!!” Ah, and these are the fond memories you will have…. We have two teenage boys now and in some interactions vomit in the face is preferable! Keep the bonding going. It’s what keeps you sane when they are older… Best wishes for their speedy recovery.

  46. And when you are paying for a doctor’s appointment….always offer to pay right then and there. Then you’ll know why “medical costs” are rising. I got discounts from 5% to 50% when we had crappy insurance. AND…the doctor was often able to suggest cheaper alternatives for prescription items.

  47. TIffany Eisentrout says:

    Sorry this isn’t really a comment on the blog content, just some advice for the nighttime coughing. Baby vicks on the bottom of their feet and then put socks on them. Works every time. Don’t know why, but it does. Once they are older than a year, you can also give them a spoonful or two of honey before bed. We have a 7 year old son and 4 year old twin boys…hang in their brother, the ride only gets better (and more challenging!)

  48. As a parent of twin daughters who are now 13 year olds, yes the infant years with multiples is tiring and can be overwhelming, but when twins reach ages 2-5, it is so fun. They will be built in playmates for each other, and these days of sick babies will all be a blur. I enjoy your posts so keep up the good work!

  49. deborah says:

    Wow. Beautifully and simply put!

  50. Jen says:

    So thankful for your posts, Mr. Walsh. I enjoy hearing my 14 year-old son chuckle at your humor, while also reading important topics from a great perspective. As hectic, tiring and down-right draining these years can be, they are some of the sweetest years too. We have a 14 year-old, 12 year-old and now two-year old because we so missed those young years. We waited 6 years to adopt our baby, which came after dashed hopes, a failed adoption, much questioning and sorrow. God blessed us beyond measure with the busiest (most mischievous) little one of all three! I frequently tell her she’s “my baby that God gave me”. Enjoy the good days, the bad and the ugly – you’ll wish you could have them back one day.

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