Two weeks ago I attended a team meeting for a family that receives early intervention services. Their little girl, Donna, gets individual instruction with me each week. As the meeting was concluding, a team member asked Donna’s mom if she was looking forward to the holidays.

parenthood“Not at all,” Donna’s mother replied frankly. “I can’t wait till Christmas is over. It’s too expensive!”

The sentiment she expressed is one which we can all agree. Holidays are expensive. Children are expensive. And we parents shell out the dough. We pay.

But holidays are not the only time we pay. We’ve been paying more and in more ways than the trifle of holiday gifts. We’ve been paying since way before our children were even old enough to know we are giving to them.

The Mom who quit smoking during her pregnancy gave her unborn child a priceless gift of health and viability.

The Dad who put in extra hours at work– from the minute he found out a child was coming into his life– has gifted a child who will never know or appreciate that gift. And the parents who give, night after red-eyed night, of their life and energy and unending love to their children, may never be recognized for that selfless giving. This is the price of parenthood, and parents all over the world are willing to pay it.

I know a couple who is looking to adopt a baby. They have a beautiful home and a toy-filled attic. They have love, compassion, time and patience, and a wellspring of energy that is waiting to pour forth. All they want is a child to pour it in. They are willing to pay the price of parenthood.

Some parents were never planning to become parents. Some of us were dreaming of it all our lives. All of us must pay that price.

To give once is exhilarating. To give without respite is exhausting. In this exhaustion, many parents fail to appreciate the miracle of parenthood and focus instead on the negatives, the nitty-gritty, the stress and grievances of living with children.

Imagine for a moment you were that childless family, longing for the touch and affection of a little one. Longing to give, and to give without respite. Isn’t it a price you are willing to pay?

Children, even well-mannered ones, can never feel or express enough gratitude to repay a parent for what s/he has done. A parent brought the child into the world, fed and nourished and cared for the child throughout years of dependence. Taught and disciplined and put up with the child. Provided food and shelter and entertainment and education. Provided love. These gifts are immeasurable, and if a child would be able to fathom the extent of his debt of gratitude, he would probably explode from the sheer magnitude.

And so it goes that the price of parenthood is steep; very steep. And yet, those of us who understand and cherish its value would not have it any other way.

By Chaya Glatt