Why I Chose to Have Kids, Against My Feelings

While I longed for marriage for years, I never once dreamed of having kids. First female president of the U.S., sure; mom, no.

Call me strange, but I’ve never been one to “ooh” and “aah” over babies. As a twelve-year-old eager to start earning money, rather than babysitting, I chose to detassle corn and work on a turkey farm (think hard, dirty, physical labor). When I did babysit as a favor for my neighbors in my late twenties, I put the baby’s diaper on backward.

And yet here I am, less than two weeks away from giving birth to our second baby. So what would motivate me to have not just one but two kids?

A practical factor that forced me and Trevor to address this issue early in our marriage was my age. We married when I was thirty-two, so we knew our time was somewhat limited if we were going to have kids.

So several months into marriage, my husband asked one of our church elders, “Why should we have kids?” I will never forget his response:

“Why shouldn’t you have kids?”

From that moment on, I knew our course was set. I would not have kids because they made my heart melt; I would have kids out of obedience to Christ.

What Motivated Me to Write This Post On Having Kids

I write this post for different people for different reasons: 

  1. For the woman who thinks something is wrong with her because she’s not yet excited about the arrival of her baby: You’re not alone. (Side note: We took this selfie just after learning we were pregnant with our firstborn. Notice my red nose; I turn into Rudolph when I cry.) I may have chosen to say “yes” to having a baby, but that didn’t mean I was excited about it.
  2. Non-pregnant women: Rather than asking newly pregnant women, “Are you excited?!” consider asking, “How do you feel about being pregnant?” Give women room and permission to mourn the loss of their independence and dreams, and allow them to be honest about their struggles. (Yes, myself and women like me know that many women long to have babies and can’t; trust me, we already feel guilty enough about our lack of excitement.)
  3. For the Christian woman who refuses to have kids: I hope something here will challenge your thinking just a bit.

What Motivated Me to Have Kids

That said, why would I—a woman who values deep, adult conversation—choose to forfeit that—and more—in lieu of a baby’s cries?  

  1. In Genesis 1:27-28, God commanded us, as His image-bearers, to be fruitful and multiply, so the whole earth would be filled with images of Himself. While I believe this can be applied to producing spiritual children (see 1 Tim. 1:2), I don’t think it negates God’s call to married people to physically have kids if they’re able to.
  2. Christianity is a call to die to self. Didn’t Jesus promise: “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:25)? I know by now how life works: If I live for myself, I end up the loser.
  3. God’s ultimate purpose for me is re-forming me into Christ’s image (Romans 8:28-29). How can having kids not help accomplish this goal?
  4. God says children are a blessing and a reward (Psalm 127:3). Will I take Him at His Word—this God who never lies—or will I choose instead to listen to myself and the culture? Who will I ultimately believe?
  5. These reasons aren’t as big, but they’re timely: I just watched my husband’s grandma die. It was heartbreaking. I want someone there with me when my time comes (1 Tim. 5:16)–someone who will care enough to bury me.
  6. I just read 1 Timothy 5:9-16, which includes “bringing up children” as a good work. Verses 13-15 even seem to indicate that having kids is a protection for me against becoming a lazy gossip who strays after Satan. Again, I’ll take God’s Word for it. If kids can help keep me from selfishness and sin, I’m interested.  

How God is Changing My Heart Re. Having Kids

God has already moved and changed my heart. When I was pregnant with Iren, I was full of dread, anxious that I wouldn’t love my baby. But God took care of all of that, and Iren has brought such unexpected joy to our lives. 

While I’m still not excited about baby number two, I’m also not filled with dread or anxiety. This is progress. Having kids has been a big faith journey for me. It has been a death to self in many ways. But as can only happen in God’s economy, much life, laughter, and joy has come from that death.

How about you? Do you think it’s a prerequisite to being a good mom to feel excited about having babies before you hold them in your arms? Why or why not?

If you’ve had babies, what was your reasoning for doing so? If you’re currently opposed to having babies, how you would answer our elder’s question: “Why not have babies?” Do you think your reasons are selfish or wise?  

Paula (Hendricks) Marsteller is a compassionate Christian communicator.

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