I recently sat on the church lawn at the end of a stressful day watching a bunch of kids play water games. It was therapeutic. As I left work that day, I told a friend who’s had a couple of lifetimes worth of heartache where I was going. She said that in her darkest days, watching children play was her only source of peace. I can see why. One of the most memorable movies I’ve seen was Children of Men with George Clooney and Michael Caine. The story began 18 years after a global pandemic rendered all women sterile. Having no children dramatically altered human civilization: all over the world, society had broken down into some unseen horror, and “only Britain soldiers on”, where the movie was set. Even there, suicide pills were readily available for those who couldn’t bear to carry on. It was a stark commentary on the importance of children, not just for our survival, but for our collective sanity. I’ve never forgotten the lesson.
People sometimes joke that their kids threaten their sanity, but the truth for most of us is that they give us hope and the strength to carry on, even when our own lives do not. They represent the best of us. We need them, perhaps more than they need us. Heaven knows I can’t imagine my life without mine.
“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” –Henry Ward Beecher