I spent this weekend with my niece, Lorelei. She's one year old and came to New York to visit me with my sister and brother-in-law. We've been playing in the park, at the Children's Museum, FAO. She is running around, beginning to say words that actually sound like words, and tearing up everything in her path. She gives me hope.
It's easy to look at the situation directly in front of us and feel like it might not be such a good idea to get out of bed. Spending time with children forces you to take the long view. Some day they will grow up, they will continue on their respective paths. Every day they are learning something new. They discover and wonder at every moment, and we discover along with them. Her best words at the moment are ball, dog, and Oprah. I've never had such fun say those words, or any words for that matter, as I have saying them with Lorelei.
I think whether or not you want to have kids of your own is irrelevant. I do think spending time with them in some way, whether they're nieces and nephews, kids of friends, kids you coach, teach, or volunteer with, they will change your life by changing the way you view life and the world we live in. They really are the most optimistic people you can ever meet. And in time when so many people feel like they're down and out, it helps to spend time with kids who feel that their best times are yet to come.