The Joys and Woes of Reproduction

Reproduction - the most natural thing in the world. It exists so that we can produce offspring to continue the human race, in all its wonder and pain, kindness and cruelty.

If we really weighed things up about whether it’s safe to bring new little people into the world we’d probably think better of it, but it’s an urge and desire that’s so strong it overpowers rational thought. It’s got the built-in drive of lust to make sure we can’t ignore it. Generations continue to do it, and there’s still no effective preparation or failsafe template for parenting, so we muddle along and mostly make a big mess of it.

Amongst the giant mess we make as a human race, there are diamonds produced that shine through, strive for truth and are determined to build fair and safe world. History has shown that they are extremely unlikely to succeed because the power always lies with the corrupt and the heartless. That figures - the fastest way to get to a position of power is to step on others along the way. But the fastest way is not the best way.

Some people find themselves unable to have children, and some choose not to. For this reason I believe it’s best when you meet new people not to ask them whether or not they have kids. Don’t worry, because if they do, they’ll tell you about it soon enough. If fertility and having babies is a difficult issue then it makes sense not to bring it into conversation - let the other person lead the way.

Too many people just plough in and hit them with the question. People of childbearing age and beyond have their own personal journey regarding offspring. Some choose not to reproduce, some are unable to, and some are grieving a child they have lost. This is the most fragile subject in the world, and having consideration for that might help spare adding to the hurt that people already have to live with.

The way you feel about parenthood is not necessarily the way other people feel about it.

With the constant sharing of life updates on social media it’s common for parents to express their relief about the return to routine after having to entertain their kids during the holidays. They've found it hard-going (as well as expensive) at times and may be looking forward to the peace and productivity that the return to school will bring. But I have friends who will not be seeing their child return to school for a new term.

I also have friends and family who very much want to be parents and it hasn’t happened. Sometimes I have been beside them when the children question is asked. If you’re in tune as friends, the sting can permeate through their being and you can feel it. You can feel it when a new pregnancy is announced and your friend cries inside but composes herself and gives dignified congratulations and blessings to the newly expectant woman. You feel helpless and want to cry as well. All you can do is be there and try to imagine what you would need from your friend if the roles were reversed. Another thing you do is try to protect your friends, and others who may be in that situation, from being questioned in social situations. But you can’t, of course, because life is harsh and real and in-your-face. So they continue on their own journey and make their choices as to how to deal with it. They grow, they strengthen, and achieve a greater enlightenment and compassion alongside their grief.

After reading a friend’s Facebook post saying she’d give anything in the world to be seeing her son start senior school, I went straight upstairs and gave my boy an extra hug, kiss and slushy ‘love you’ talk. He stopped the YouTube tutorial he was watching and soaked it all in.

No-one can ever prepare you for the earthquake / volcano / rollercoaster of becoming a parent.

Parenting comes as a shock. No-one can ever prepare you for the earthquake / volcano / rollercoaster of becoming a parent. We should really guess it’s not going to be all plain sailing, when (from the woman’s point of view) needing a pee several times in the night when pregnant followed by the searing, indescribable pain of labour and childbirth is the start of it, but no, it’s still all a massive surprise.

Your life is not your own any more. A little being is entirely dependent on you. Feeding it and getting it to sleep become your main aims in life. The cute baby turns into an impossible-to-bend-into-the-buggy toddler, little hands in everything (particularly if it’s sticky or dangerous) and eventually grows into an incredibly complex teenager who hates you. The hate passes and if all goes well you have a new best friend.

The books I recommend go from one extreme to the other - the first is very liberal and the second is pretty conservative. Read them and decide which is in line with what you feel.

3 Parenting Books

1) Three in a Bed: The Benefits of Sleeping with your Baby by Deborah Jackson

2) The Spoilt Generation by Aric Sigman