The Truth About Kids, Part 3: Is It Worth It?

Having kids is…?

We’ve detailed the bad. We’ve considered the good. And now it’s time for the big question…

Is having kids worth it?


Just kidding. The real answer is…


If you think having a kid will save your marriage/relationship/sense of worth/etc., it will definitely, absolutely not be worth it. That’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Unless, of course, you’ve found that sleep deprivation, round-the-clock crying, piles of feces, and exhaustion have helped you out in the past. In which case…er…no, I think things are still going to turn out poorly. That’s not to say that your kid won’t still be awesome, and you won’t still enjoy good times, it’s just that they can’t (and shouldn’t) perform the function of fixing something or filling a void. Having kids is not about what you get from them. It’s about giving to them. In perpetuity.

If you’re ready for that and you decide to have kids (or have them already), here’s what you can take with you on the dark days:

It’s Worth It Because Loving People Is Worth It

Like any really, really good relationship, the ups and downs are worth it because of the love you share. (I know, I got all hallmark-y, but it’s true). Being a parent—I mean actually doing the required tasks of parenting—kinda sucks. I don’t like changing diapers, or dealing with fits, or cleaning up messes. I don’t like that an endless torrent of need is slowly carving a new and crazy landscape in my psyche. Nope, I don’t like those things. I’m pretty sure that people who say they do are lying. Not 100% sure, but like 97% sure.

But sometimes it’s the darkest moments that help you find your way.

The days in which I wrote these blog posts were particularly difficult. I don’t know if the critter was getting a cold, or teething, or having difficulty with the time change…maybe she was upset about the disappearing upward mobility in the US.  It could have been several different things. But she wasn’t napping (a parent’s kryptonite as I mentioned before), and she spent nearly every waking moment whining. She was so inconsolable that I thought I would lose it. I cried. I prayed. I was sad for her. And sad for me. If parenting were just a job, I would have seriously considered quitting. Some days it just feels like too much to bear. Destitute, I asked her if she wanted to dance.

My daughter loves music. She loves to dance. So, I turned on Pandora, and by providence, the very first song that came on was this: Gold In Them Hills by Ron Sexsmith.

I had heard the song before, and liked it, but as I swayed my sad little girl back and forth, the lyrics rang out like a balm to my soul.

Cover of "Cobblestone Runway"
Cover of Cobblestone Runway

I know it doesn’t seem that way
But maybe it’s the perfect day
Even though the bills are piling
And maybe Lady Luck ain’t smiling

But if we’d only open our eyes
We’d see the blessings in disguise
That all the rain clouds are fountains
Though our troubles seem like mountains

There’s gold in them hills
There’s gold in them hills
So don’t lose heart
Give the day a chance to start

The very next song that came on was the Adele cover of  Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. (UGH. Seriously!? How much crying did I need to do that day?) Me and that song—we have history.

When our daughter was only a month and a half old, I was holding her in the living room, exhausted. She had a problem with her heart that had landed her in the NICU during her third week of life, and we had an incredibly rocky time keeping her fed and happy. Every day seemed like another daunting battle and I was just so, so tired. Through my exhaustion, Make You Feel My Love came on, and I heard the words that I hadn’t had time to figure out yet—words I was currently living: I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue. I’d go crawling down the avenue. No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, to make you feel my love.” I, like nearly every parent, had taken a beating. But I heard those words and I knew…I just knew…I’d take more.

On this terrible parenting day, a year and a half later, after my daughter had screamed at me all morning, I held her and cried as our song played on the computer. Her little hand held on tight to the back of my neck. She sighed and laid her head down. She was tired, too. Adele kept singing, my heart broke, and I decided again: it is worth it.

(I’ll leave you with the full song & lyrics, just in case you need to cry for a while.)


When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven’t made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I’ve known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I’d go hungry I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawling down the avenue
No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain’t seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love, to make you feel my love

And that’s it. That’s the truth about kids. Be sure to join me next week when we talk about something less sappy. Like flame throwers, or scorpions or the legacy of Thomas Jefferson. Something like that.

The Truth About Kids, Part 3: Is It Worth It?

13 thoughts on “The Truth About Kids, Part 3: Is It Worth It?

  1. Christian Karkas says:

    Best advice I received (from a female Harvard professor and mother): “If you want to love and be loved by someone unconditionally — get a dog.”


  2. Tracey says:

    I’m only 10 weeks pregnant with my first, and although excited I have never been more terrified in my life, and I imagine that will only get more intense as I go. Unfortunately, like you said, the internet already has me convinced that I will be the most terrible mother in history, and honestly this series is the only thing that has made me feel better.

    Since everyone else only talks about EITHER the sunshine and rainbows OR the mountains of poop, it’s hard to try and get a grasp on exactly what to expect. I’m fully aware that no blog posts or articles will actually prepare me or my husband for this, but I just wanted to let you know that out of a month (so far) of incessant pinning and reading about babies, this is the best perspective I’ve read. I’m still terrified, but I’m so happy to be reminded about why we wanted this so badly! Thank you so much for your beautiful words!


  3. Is it worth it? I’d say yes. Disabled kid and all. Sure my brains are leaking out at an alarming rate. Being ignored most of the time is a state I’m getting used to and being referred to as mommy all the time is a joyous pleasure. Sheesh people. I have a name. Two syllables. Not that hard. Remember it. Use it. No charge.
    But I’m a different me because of him. A slightly better version of the old me. And that’s worth it


  4. Monica says:

    I just have to say that your blog posts are beautifully written – making me crack up laughing one minute, and the next I’m in tears over something so poignantly said/written. You have a gift.


  5. Of course it’s worth it. I don’t know why, but it is. Between Hubby, me and God we made a brand new human being to suck my brains out through my eyeballs. Parenting also makes you fluent in perfect Russian and Cantonese overnight. You’ll find yourself spewing the most inane parenting requests like “come here” and “eat your crackers” and be met with blank stares (if they even acknowledge your existence at all). Since they don’t do a thing you say, you must be speaking Russian.


  6. JT O'Neill says:

    I discovered your blog while doing some research on the stuff no one tells you about being a parent. I am on the way other side of the whole thing – my offspring (can’t really call them kids at this point) are 25 and 27 – but even now I am questioning, “Was it worth it?” – My two are successful by any measure – one finishing grad school this spring, one starting this fall – both striving to be financially independent, both involved in respectful relationships, never trouble with the law, no issues with drugs or alcohol – and still I am asking this? Yes, I am – the thing is, it took a shitload out of me — and I wonder what else I could have/ would have done – your comment on the earlier piece about second guessing – that is for sure — for me, it was the hardest work on so many levels and turned me into an uber serious person. Sure, I had fun with the kids but there was always a cloud over me – do it right or else – maybe that was just me – I suspect so –
    anyway, I am pleased to have discovered your work.


    1. Glad to hear you liked the series, JT. And, I imagine MANY parents find themselves in the same spot you are in. I’m at the beginning of the ride and still trying to keep track of who I am outside of being a mother. I have NO idea what it’s going to be like when I’m on my own again. Magical? Terrifying? I’m guessing a mix of the two. Magifying. Terrical. Something like that.


      1. JT says:

        Hi Melanie, I have 6 and have come to the realization I and you, will never be on our own again. Because the kids grow up but never stop being your kids and then they have kids who in a way become your kids as well :-)


  7. I don’t know you, you don’t know me, but thank you! I chose not to have children and I have friends with and without kids. This is probably the best blog series about yays and nays about having kids that I’ve ever read. I really enjoyed both viewpoints and your summary!


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