My son asked me a question yesterday (as he’s apt to do) that had seemingly come from nowhere….
“Dad, do you think I should have kids when I’m old enough?”
Before I gave him my reply I said, “…where’s that question coming from?”
“I was just wondering if it’s worth it… (wait for it) … “I mean, you have to buy me birthday presents and stuff and it’s expensive. You could just buy yourself stuff instead.” Fair enough I thought. If not for he and his sister, I could spend my money, my time, my effort elsewhere. But I wouldn’t want to.
So what did I tell him? I’ll get to my response to him in a moment.
Strangely, his question made me think about the 'work world', miles outside of parenting. Specifically, our daily grind as employees, managers, business owners etc.? We all work to afford the things in life we need and want. But if you parallel ‘having kids’ with ‘having a job’ – is it all just a series of transactions?
I sure hope it's more than that.
It is certainly not news that people often have multiple careers over a lifetime – some connected to their core area(s) of educational specialization – some completely unrelated. I’ve personally gone from elementary school teacher to marketing/sales executive to business owner. I’ve completed degrees in multiple disciplines, but always attempted to enjoy the journey. Not simply the job or ‘piece of paper’ at the end. Not simply the transaction.
Having kids is a lot like that. My son is right, it does mean buying birthday presents. Spending money on stuff that isn’t specifically meant for you. Kind of like working can often feel like a daily grind. emails, text messages, meetings, reports, performance reviews, difficult conversations etc.
The transactional stuff.
But work is also about big wins, project successes, team-building events, office friendships, workplace promotions, new learning opportunities and lasting memories.
“Yes, you should absolutely have kids,” I told him. “Even if you have to buy them presents, it’s so much fun watching them unwrap them.”
The nuance of that statement might have fallen on deaf ears for him, but I know you get it… it’s the moments that matter, because if they don’t, all you’re left with are the transactions and then it just feels like work.