Last week was the annual Doyle (my side of the family) gathering at the beach. I realized we've been going to the beach together every summer for about 35 years now. There are 14 of us all told now, down from a high of 15: Mom, her three children and our spouses, our collective 7 children. None of the seven currently have spouses, and Mom has no great grandchildren.
At times I feel a little wistful about this, but my sister reminded me that we in our generation are all still very tethered to the working world, all work more than full time, and would probably not be the grandparents our mom and dad were, as they retired with energy to spare. It actually made me feel better, oddly, and it also helps to recall that we have marvelous children, who are making their way in the world and making life better for others, and who don't break our hearts on a daily basis, as many children unfortunately do.
If there were no God, having children would have to be considered a crap shoot, with the likelihood of pain and pleasure about equal. Recently on NPR I heard about a study (or several?) indicating that most people are less happy after they have children than before. This is hard to believe from where I sit, but may be true, I suppose. But there is a God, who I believe arranges for our spiritual progress through the fruit of our loins, and theirs through us, if we're expectant and alert. Which is a bigger deal than mere Happiness. I'm grateful for the progress and the happiness mine have provoked.
I'm also grateful for the Doyles who are great cooks, great laughers, great listeners to music (and some of us great sing-alongers, even if others of us disagree), great junk-shop trawlers, and who, though we only do it three times, a year, love to hang out with each other.