10 Amazingly Enjoyable Things About Having Kids

To get this blog properly started, here is my article I wrote with my husband, published at The Federalist.

There has been a recent explosion in books and articles chronicling the supposedly overwhelming rigors of child-rearing, particularly for the educated middle-class professionals who write and read these articles.


While we might suspect that a lot of this is just the whine-brag as a literary genre—look how put-upon I am combining my successful career with my wonderful children—we’re also concerned that the young and childless might look at it all and conclude, as some do, that parenthood is a disaster best avoided.


That seemed to be the upshot of a perverse Mother’s Day ad last year in which young women were invited for a fake job interview. The “job” turned out to be motherhood, which was portrayed as a form of worker exploitation undreamt of by the most fervent Marxist.


Unfortunately, if you turn to pro-family conservatives, you often get much the same story, with parenthood cast as a personal sacrifice made for the greater good of humanity, while childless bliss is “a symptom of cultural decadence, in which modern comforts crowd out intergenerational obligations.” So if you have children, you’re doing it for the good of society, to ensure the demographic survival of the West.


Both sides agree that there is some ineffable personal value to be gained from parenthood, but the positive side is vague, while the negatives are vivid and specific. As the title of a recent book would have it, being a parent is “all joy and no fun.”


As working parents of two young boys, we can assure you that this is all wrong. If you’re not having fun, you’re not paying attention. Yes, taking care of children is a lot of work and a relentless responsibility, but as with any really difficult job, the rewards can be enormous.


To counteract all the gloom and doom, here are ten amazingly enjoyable things about having kids….

Read the rest at The Federalist.

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You Never Know, Until You Do

You Never Know, Until You Do

As a little kid in my house growing up, the birthday kid always picked out the birthday dinner. At first it was just meals at home, but as we got older, it meant a special dinner out. Since my oldest boy would be turning seven and since he seems to have been born a foodie, I thought it was time to restart the family tradition. He really seems to enjoy the pageantry of eating out, especially the strange notion that there are several options for what he can choose to eat. And I think getting a menu handed to him like he’s the big man who can read anything, might have something to do with it. But since he’s only been to a few different restaurants, I thought the adults should choose the first couple of places to open up the kids’ eating horizons. So I thought it would be fun to take us to the local Japanese hibachi grill where you all sit just inches away from a huge, searing hot griddle, the chef spins his knives, tosses the utensils and the food around, and even starts a few fires. Now that I type that, I really do have to wonder what I was thinking.

Anyway, there we all sat in front of the chef, my oldest son, Mr. Excitement/Mr. Caution, and my youngest son, Mr. Adventure/Mr. Danger, on either side of Grandma. The chef introduces himself and starts chatting about fires. The boys, not expecting what’s to come, are not entirely sure what the chef is saying in his thick accent. So when I tell the chef that we have a birthday boy with us, he turns and says something that I’m not sure any of us caught. Then he takes out a squirt bottle of oil and draws a birthday cake on the grill, draws on several candles, and then turns to said birthday boy and asks if he’s ready to blow out the candles. At this point, Mr. Excitement is becoming a bit shy and has scooted to the side of his chair closest to Daddy, when the chef decides that he must have said, “yes, let’s light up those candles.” And whoosh, the flames shot several feet into the air. We all instinctively back up in our chairs due to the intense heat, and Mr. Excitement jumps out of his chair and ducks for cover behind the adults. The only person who didn’t move at all was my youngest son, Mr. Adventure, sitting right next to me. He, not the birthday boy, clapped and giggled with complete glee. As the dinner went on, every time the chef would mention “fire,” the birthday boy would prepare to take cover, and the little brother eventually shouted out, “more fire,” with such enthusiasm that deep in my mind I started to worry. As we left the restaurant, we all said how much we enjoyed the meal, but I privately wondered if I missed the mark: Perhaps this was the right restaurant, but the wrong son? Should I have waited until they were older for this place? And most worrisome, did I ignite the internal flame of a little pyromaniac in my youngest son?

You know, as mothers, we often second guess ourselves. Did we do the right thing? Did the kids enjoy what we so carefully planned out for them? Should we have just saved the money and cooked dinner at home? You never know exactly what experience is really going to stick with them, and what activities will just form a general blur of their childhood. But every now and then, they let you know. Like this morning, when I came to the Lego table (used to be our kitchen table) and saw this construction.

Lego Hibachi Grill

Sure, the base was recognizable as the Millennium Falcon that the birthday boy built last week, but on top of it something new has grown. Flames, lot’s of flames have taken over. Flames of all sizes; cute curled little flames that once were plumes from the Lego knights’ helmets, medium flames with straight purpose, and big giant flames that licked up to the sky. And there, in front of all the flames was a single Lego figure in a little hat. When I asked him about it, I thought I was going to hear that it was him sitting down for his birthday dinner, and that would have been a great success in my book. But no, he told me that it was himself as the chef cooking dinner.

Yep, momma picked that one just right. Sometimes you never know how much a single event means to them, until you do.

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