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How Parenting Can Be Delightfully Difficult

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What are some of the greatest joys of having children vs not having? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Cheryl Lightfoot, mother, on Quora.

I have found raising kids to be really hard. Astoundingly hard, sometimes. (Apologies to my kids, if you are reading this, but you know how you are.) I can totally understand why someone would make the conscious choice to not have kids, because it takes a lot out of you, financially, mentally, physically, etc. And knowing that if anything happens to them it will literally kill you is just terrifying. You are a perpetual hostage to fortune; you can't control them or anything around them. There are so many ways it could all go horribly, awfully wrong.

And yet...once you have them in your life, you don't care about any of that. Sure, they spit up, and yell at you, and never sleep when you want to, and don't listen to what you say no matter how many times you say it and consider obedience to be an option they will rarely choose. But on the other hand, you get to live with this brand new human being (or two, or three...) who will constantly amaze you. You get sweet little kisses, hugs, even a furtive 'I love you' when their friends aren't around to hear them say it. You get the awe of finding out that your little one has grown up to be a smart, sarcastic near-genius. (You'll think so, even if no one else does.) You get to find out that your once-little guy grew up to be a big guy you really like being friends with. You get a constant supply of refrigerator art. You get to watch cool kids' shows (they're out there, you just have to be pro-active about choosing what to watch) and read fun kids' books (The Stinky Cheese Man was a big favorite) and learn more about dinosaurs than you ever thought you wanted to know. You get to sing along with them to your favorite songs, and indeed, to raise them up thinking your favorite songs are their favorites, too. (Eventually they will come across some band like Lady Gaga or One Direction and declare them their favorite band ever, and that will make you question your ability to influence them, though. Just a warning.) You will have more fun than you ever thought possible.

It is hard. You will be exhausted almost always. You will do things you regret, and so will they. You will never have enough money. But there will be so much love you won't care about any of that.

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