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Nov. 21st, 2008 at 12:09 pm
Walking around with a newborn outside of Mormon country (where babies are a dime a dozen) garners you considerable attention.Â Plenty of oohs and aahs; toddlers pointing out and squawking “baby!”; complete strangers asking after the details of the birth, name choice, and heritage.Â It can be fun and inconvenient and annoying.
Yesterday I was picking up some drugs at my convenient neighborhood grocery store pharmacy when the pharmacist, a 50ish looking lady, noticed my constant companion: my two-week old son bundled against the upstate New York snow and strapped in his car seat/carrier.
“Oh,” she said.Â “You’re a new mom.”
“I haven’t had the privilege myself,” she continued, “and I know it’s a lot of work, but life is just meaningless without kids.”
I didn’t know what to say.Â I could easily have spouted off the appropriate responses to many other reactions we get these days, but this was an entirely unexpected profundity.
“They are a joy,” I affirmed and grabbed my drugs and headed off.
It’s not that I disagree with the pharmacist’s sentiment: certainly, children add much to my life and there is nothing I would prefer to having them be a part of mine.Â Still, the idea that life would be otherwise “meaningless” troubled me.Â There are plenty of people who, for many reasons, have not and will not have children.Â I hate the idea that they might feel like my pharmacist.Â Certainly, we have plenty of examples of people who had meaningful lives who did not have children.Â In fact, I am sure some of what such people accomplished could not have been done had they had kids.Â Yet, how could I think of refuting the pharmacist without degrading the presence and importance and blessing of children in my life?
Her very Mormon sentiment gave this Mormon pause.Â I don’t want it to be true.