If the title of this post sounds familiar, it’s because two weeks ago, I posted about a related topic, in which I admitted to my younger sister that I had glossed over the pain of being a mom and wanted to make sure she understood how difficult it can be, if that level of understanding is even possible.
The response I got to that post, in which I sounded more than a little depressed, was overwhelmingly positive, and really seem to resonate with quite a few people. I wanted to do a follow-up to that post to address a few points that have come up since then, including the following comment I received in private from a friend of mine:
“I’m a little concerned that you dismiss the positive aspects of therapy . . . it really can save lives for some people who have severe post-partum depression or plain depression. A lot of people feel therapy is a waste without even going, and I’m not even sure you have given it a shot . . . I’m not even sure you understand the difference between a psychiatrist who only will prescribe medications for you and a talk-therapist.
Depression is a treatable illness like having diabetes- no shame in it. Would you ignore diabetes symptoms and not go to the doctor? Therapy can be much the same- it doesn’t have to be lifelong.”
She also explained that, for someone who is perhaps inclined toward severe depression and anxiety, it’s best to try to work on that condition in therapy before having kids. I wholeheartedly agree.
So let me first say that, if you have depression or anxiety to begin with, you should not give up the idea of having kids entirely. In fact, I can’t think of a better reason to heal from your depression than the goal of having children someday. To the extent that anyone may have read my prior post as saying that it’s not worth having kids if you are depressed, or that therapy doesn’t work pre- or post-partum, I’m telling you now that this is not at all how I feel.
Next, I want to offer a few reasons why it’s great to have kids—despite the “horrible truth” I discussed in my earlier post. Let me be clear: I’m not going back on what I said in that post. I’m only trying to add to it some more detail about the big picture when it comes to parenting, and focus on different aspects of the job.
1. You are a very cool, very awesome person, and I am so excited to see what your children will be like.
It may sound like an ego thing, but it is really neat to make a little mini-me. I am so amazed at how much my older daughter reminds me of myself. While it’s scary at times, because I think she inherited some of my less favorable traits as well as my good ones, it is also exciting for me because I feel connected to her in a way that no one else on the planet ever will, perhaps with the exception of her father.
My friend who wrote me that comment (who will remain anonymous here) is such a cool lady. She is insightful, introspective, fun to hang out with and someone with whom I have always just “clicked,” if that makes sense. Everyone should have a friend like that. This is a person who should absolutely have kids.
2. The world needs more people like you!
This point is similar to the above, but slightly different, because instead of just benefitting me, who gets to sit back and watch your kids grow up and be just like you, the world will benefit from you passing on your awesome genes. Let’s populate the world with your intelligence (both in the traditional sense and in terms of emotional IQ), thoughtfulness and empathy for your fellow human beings. For example, you sent me that email, and made a note that you weren’t upset at me, just passionate about the subject, and I instantly understood and believed you, because you are a good communicator. We need more of those kinds of skills in this world. You also have a taste for the geekier side of pop culture, and we need someone to carry on such traditions as creating memes and quoting cult movies, or whatever it is that our children will find cool (or not cool, as the case may be?) when they are our age.
3. I will support you in any way I can when you have a baby, and in your parenting journey.
This goes back to the issue of having children when you have a history of anxiety and depression. Despite what you will read online (my first advice — don’t read the comments! — except here on CTWM of course), most moms WANT to help, and your friends are especially interested in helping. We love seeing new moms make the transformation!
I can’t promise that I have any special training or background when it comes to the seriousness of protecting your mental health and well-being. But I can promise that I will contribute all the (wanted) advice, knowledge and wisdom that I have hopefully amassed in my three years of motherhood. And clothes, if you have a girl.
4. Having children is just totally worth it.
Ok, I admit this is coming more from me personally, instead of being based on why I specifically think YOU should reproduce (you being my friend, or anyone out there who may be reading this). But I hope that everyone who read my earlier post understands that, despite that horrible truth about motherhood (which I still assert is completely true), I am not, in any way, shape or form saying, at all, that you should NOT have kids. Yes, a lot of being a mom is awful, but it is also wonderful and amazing, as I tried to get across in the title of my earlier post. Just understand that I’m not sugarcoating it, or saying that the good parts cancel out the bad parts. I am saying that there is the good and the not-so-good to parenting, and that even if you tend to see the glass as half empty rather than half full most of the time, like I do, it is WORTH IT. Even if you are miserable from time to time because, more often than not, that picture at the top of the page is your kitchen, it is OK. As difficult as it is to be a mom, I am still glad that I became one, and would do it all again.
Again, the point of my earlier post was not to dissuade anyone from having kids. And the point of this post is not to say, “haha, just kidding, having kids is rainbows and sparkles all the time!” I just want to spread the word about what I know now that I didn’t before. I hope it helps.