Waiting in a doctor’s office once, I picked up a magazine called Outside. In the magazine was an article on happiness. It gave a study that compared the happiness of couples with children to the happiness of those without children. The first study said that a couples’ happiness diminishes when they have a child, and that each additional child lowers the happiness rating. (Our sixth child was with me when I read that. He joked about how sad we must have been when he arrived.) The article said that childless couples at this stage are happier than couples with children.

I thought about that. And I understood it. In the short run, a farmer is happier in May if he is watching TV in his air-conditioned home rather than being outside in the hot sun, plowing the fields. And likewise, I am happier in the moment when I am surfing the net versus when I am pushing this stiff body to work out. But let me continue with the study in that magazine.

The next study compared couples that never had children with couples who experienced empty nest. The couples with grown children were happier. This is a perfect example of Season 1 and Season 2. Kids can be exhausting and can rock your world. And multiple kids doubly rock your world. But the joy of having mature grown children is quite fulfilling. (I am certainly not setting my children up on any pedestals as examples. They are normal young people with many normal struggles. Nevertheless, they are quite the delight to their father and me.) If you are currently in Season 1, I realize your children are wearing you out. You are scraping just to get through the day. Boy, do I remember those days. But Friends, children are God’s gift of hope to us. They are worth every ounce of your effort. Children indeed are a blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127: 3-5). In my opinion, friendship with adult children is one of the supreme blessings on this side of heaven (along with, of course, a happy marriage!)

Back to the farming example. Guess who is happier when the harvest has come in? The guy who has a full barn or the guy who was watching TV in the air conditioning during planting season? And guess who is happier, the person who surfed the web for hours or the person who lost fifteen pounds working out? Sowing is hard. Sowing is no fun. But reaping is a blast.

Everything worthwhile takes effort. And nothing is worth more effort than your sweet (but ornery) children. Don’t begrudge all the work they are. They are definitely worth it. Sow in Season 1, reap in Season 2. (But btw, Love and Logic sure makes Season 1 easier so be sure to devour their resources.)