For me personally my two children give me more meaning than anything else in life. More than I ever thought possible.
That being said, I’m not sure why you’re asking, but if you’re looking for meaning in your life I wouldn’t start with having kids to try and find it. Figure out who you are and what you really want in life. Then you’ll know if having kids will give you deeper meaning or will burden you down. It isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine.
Yes if you're very very lucky. For the majority, kids just grow up to be assholes, throw tantrums, say fuck you to their parents all the time, spend all their day on Instagram snapchat and tiktok, get depressed even though we provide them everything, waste tuition and then drop out of college, do drugs in their teens and then don't get a job. Then stop talking to you once they hit 20s. It's pretty much out of a parent's control. What if your kid becomes one of them? That's the most likely outcome.
In a sense. The meaning and purpose will revolve around your kids. It's hard work and it's non-stop (you don't get time off from being a parent). It is fulfilling though and do bring about a lot of joy.
Meaning and joy - yes. Horrific “work hours” - also yes.
Pros and cons just like other decisions in life.
PROs: added indescribable meaning and joy to our lives that my spouse and I never experienced. When this little bundle smiles and babbles in the morning, the whole world smiles at you. Give a better sense of purpose and priority that enables you to say no to the stuff you knew it’s not the best for you in the long run, but do it because of temp gain.
CONs: workload wise, imagine adding another full time job to your current one. Physically super demanding. Plus, the new boss wakes you up every three hours for the first 1-3 years. Also, if you love to travel, better be okay with newly applied restrictions and find ways to accommodate. Doable, but not the easiest. e.g. a child needs a carseat/booster until 8 yo.
Conclusion: Amazing if you can pull it. But one of the partners is unsure of it, reconsider. Do your DD. Ask new parents around you about their hardships. They’ll give you the other side of the story.
Also, if you’re a woman,
1) don’t forget that you’re the “host” whether you like it or not. You’ll hear labor horror stories. I have mine as well, but surprisingly you move on so quickly with baby keeping you busy and happy.
2) your career does get a greater hit than your spouse’s during/after the pregnancy inevitably.
I am a special needs parent. So my experience is both unique and not generalizable.
My kid is an autistic kid. We found he was one when he was 3. That was a big game changer for both me and my wife. My wife was doing her master's - but she stopped to find therapy and services. For close to 2 years, she lived day time in her car - driving our kid from school to therapy and to the next one and writing her homework in the car between these drop offs. She drove more than 3 hours behind wheels driving and another 3 hours in the parked car writing her assignments. She recently graduated summa cum laude in Computer science.
If you had someone in your family dead - you will grieve. That's the same feeling you go through when you get diagnosis. Except the person you are grieving about will have day to day challenges that you never faced and that no one other than close caregivers even understand. Think of grieving life long. It's no fun. Almost all the plans you had for your kid - like making a regular conversation are all out of the window. I still haven't made a conversation with my kid - like how was your day. I don't even know if I will have one.
Having said that - let me come back to your question. I have grown immensely mature as a person. Me and my spouse always tell each other - we survived the diagnosis - we can do this. For context, 80%+ of all marriages in US end within 2 years of a special needs diagnosis.
Both of us have grown closer to each other a lot. We are more empathetic to everyone. I involve myself in lots of volunteering effort - my wife does too.
Overall the adversity moulded us as better individuals.
if we all cared about environmental footprint no one on earth should have kids and we should just let our entire human species die out in 100 years in an effort to save this earth and let it exist with animals only. But the entire existence of life was an accident probably. Originally this was a lifeless planet of carbon and other materials. Just a planet sitting there doing nothing. Now imagine this lifeless planet was full of pollution. Who cares? Nothing would be alive to care one way or the other.