Seeking God

5 benefits of having kids

A few days ago, I found myself driving the kids back and forth from their aerobics class after I’d come home from work. So there I was, all tired and in the mood to crash on the sofa, forced to play driver and ferry the kids, buy groceries, walk the dogs, and generally be ‘mom’.

In the car, I mused aloud to my younger one: “I wonder if there are any benefits of having children. I mean, humans do it every single day and it’s all about passing on the genes and taking the human race forward and all that, but tell me, really, is there any other benefit of having kids? There’s just work and pain and tension and heartache and expense… I can’t think of a single reason I’d recommend motherhood to anyone.”

My otherwise bright teen had no response. “I dunno, mom. You’ll have to figure this out yourself. I want kids when I grow up, though.”

So I’ve spent some of my spare time (increasingly rare these days) figuring out if there is any reason to recommend motherhood to anyone. I finally had a eureka moment today and thought I’d write it down while on a flight back home from a conference.

1. Having kids keeps you updated on everything that’s trending in the world – from music to fashion to technology. It is through our kids that we stay updated. Now, you’ll say one doesn’t need to go to the drastic extreme of having kids to do that, but I say, any learning is far more effective when you live both the pros and cons of it, day in and day out.

2. Having kids keeps you young. This sounds paradoxical but it isn’t. If I didn’t have kids, I’d avoid a lot of adventurous, spontaneous things in life and would be an old fuddy-duddy sooner. Because of them, I am forced to do new things on a regular basis and that keeps me young at heart.

3. Having kids helps you in your career. Again this sounds contrary to common sense, but hear me out. I work in an industry (online media) that targets young adults. Knowing their behaviour patterns and life choices helps me tremendously in understanding my target audience. I am able to make better informed decisions when it comes to creating my product for them. They also actively give me feedback, which I then act on. So having them around is good for my career.

4. Having kids makes you get up early in the morning. Now, everyone knows the benefits of this, but I’m a lazy person and if I didn’t have kids, I’d be in bed till 10 in the morning. Due to their school schedule, I now rise with the sun and it’s been over a decade that this excellent habit has been forced on me.

5. Having kids keeps you busy and alive. No matter how much I grumble about the back-breaking labour and the chores that are my burden as a mother, the fact is, all this is keeping me occupied and living life to the fullest. There is never a dull moment. It is a crazy, maddening, even exasperating existence but somewhere I think it makes life worth living far more than not having anything to do.

I once read somewhere that having kids does not increase the parents’ happiness quotient (it may even lower it) but people continue having kids because it gives meaning to their lives. And meaning is more important than happiness, it appears. Perhaps this is true.

In any case, I have made peace with my lot today and have thanked God for planning a better existence for me than I would done for myself. They’re hard work but I’m better off with children than without them. So hey, if you want a review on motherhood, here it is:

It works for me.

Seeking God

Woodwork and self-work

I spent the better part of my weekend morning sweating it out either at home or in crowded furniture markets in the blazing heat. We’re still not completely settled in — there’s some furniture we need to buy and some fixing up in the kitchen that’s awaiting an expert touch. And so, I’ve been rather busy, as my absence from this blog can testify.

So anyway, this weekend, I got back hot and weary, only to see my beloved family sprawled over the sofas under the air-conditioner, all of them busy on their respective smartphones. I sat down to take a breath, and began thinking out aloud: “Did I make the right decision with the double shade leather-finish? Should I have ordered the scratch-proof teak instead?” No one responded. After trying to get some attention for another few moments, I lost my temper and blew up in my typical tantrumy way. “No one cares… I’m the one doing all the work… You’re not interested… I do all the donkey-work here… You have no contribution to this home… I have so much pressure…” Screech screech. Blah blah.

To a trained psycho-babble expert though, it would have sounded like: “I’m the martyr, I’m the victim, look at me, listen to me, poor me, poor me, poor me.” 

Luckily, due to a short session with an Osho-sanyasi last week, I suddenly remembered something in the midst of my drama. “All negative behaviours and subconscious reaction patterns are an investment. We expect something back every time we indulge in those behaviours. They reward us with something,” he’d said.

In my case, my martyr syndrome was a typical attention-seeking tactic. I made everyone else look like a villain having a ball at my expense because I felt overworked, wronged, pressurised to perform at a superhuman level. But that was my own perception, of course. No one had ordered me to go buy furniture or get the car’s license plate fixed. I wanted applaud for doing something unasked for. I wanted ‘going-beyond-the-call-of-duty’ recognition for work that I’d have done anyway.

I don’t take on the world’s workload because it asks me to. I do it because it defines who I am. It is in my nature to give, to do, to be there for, to delve into the details. I cannot hold it against others if I am simply being true to nature.

The other thing he’d said was: “Let go of old subconscious negative behaviour patterns. You may have needed them at some time in your early childhood but you don’t need them any more. Become aware when you’re falling into the default pattern, and let it go.”

So I did.

I recognised a behaviour pattern for what it was, and I realised I didn’t need it any more. I didn’t need attention, because I’d given myself a good dose of it. I didn’t need applaud because I could pat myself on my own back. I didn’t need appreciation because I knew how valued my work was to everyone in my life, most certainly myself. Most certainly to my God.

The next morning, I called the furniture maker to say that I’d changed my mind about the look of the new bookshelf I’d ordered: I wanted the scratch-proof teak after all. And I am going to enjoy it more than anyone else.