One sunny day in October 2001, I was sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game with my friend Margaret, watching our sons play. We were talking, as we did constantly during that terrible time, about the events of 9/11, and specifically about those in our suburban New York town who had died on that day. Margaret was lying on her back on the grass, balancing her young daughter on her knees. She gave her daughter a smile and said to me, “Doesn’t something like this just make you want to have more children?”
There were so many things Margaret could have meant with this question, and I felt as if I understood them all. Children are happiness; children are hope; children force us to live in the present; children will grow up to be the adults who will someday save us all. Upon closer examination, none of these things may actually be true, and yet every child we add to our families and communities is the ultimate symbol of optimism, that the future is worth investing in and sticking around for.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2009. Everywhere you look friends are losing their jobs, losing their retirement savings and college funds, questioning where we are all headed as individuals and as a nation. If after 9/11 we were grief-stricken and scared, now we’re in a simmering panic that one day feels like depression and the next day feels like rage.
And yet…happiness goes on. Nearly every year since 2003, we have featured on this page, portraits of the children recently born to Real Simple staff members. I have to admit that this year I’m happier to see these beautiful faces than I have been since we started the tradition. I’m not sure I can explain why, but I know Margaret would understand.
Kristin van Ogtrop