Tuesday, January 24, 2012
If You're Happy And You Know It.....
My friend and I were discussing parenthood. She had read an article where the writer had dared to say that becoming a parent doesn't make you happier. In fact, statistically, it makes you less happy. I think that author must now live in a metal reinforced castle and only go out under armed guard. Them's is fighting words.
Of course it's true, my friend and I agreed. I am not happier overall. If I am to compare my life before kids to now - there's no competition. I am more tired, less fit, less healthy. I have considerably less disposable income. I spend a fraction of any spare money I do have on me. My hair, eyebrows, waistline and wardrobe are a shadow of their former selves. My marriage is weaker (but not weak.) I read less, know less, travel less (big sigh.) I am grumpy, frustrated and hurt more often - as in, all three most days. I am much older. While I know that I can't pin the chronological advancement on my girls. I am just older than I think I would be sans children. Note the lack of wiser in that sentence.
"What were we thinking?!" we commiserated.
This friend and I met in our twenties. We lived the high life (at least in our minds.) We had so much fun. We stayed out - past 10pm - gasp! We were, for the most part, carefree. We hung out for lazy hours and hours. We laughed until tears ran down our face on a regular basis. Tears are almost certainly caused by a different emotion these days. So, do I wish I had never done it? If I could would I choose a different path? Am I full of regret?
No, I'm not. Of course - I have my grass is greener moments. I daydream. I miss my old life. I miss old me but as my friend pointed out this isn't about general happiness. Becoming a parent is about moments. Golden moments is one of my favorite phrases. I just hadn't stopped to focus on the deep truth behind those words. I had noticed the fleeting nature of golden moments. How they are often ended by tears (mine embarrassingly more often than the kids.) I just hadn't fully appreciated how pivotal they are.
Parenting is about the exquisite highs. Like the first bite of a delicious meal, or the tantalizing sip of a perfect cocktail. The rest of the food is never as good as that first bite but we eat it anyway. The first mouthful of a cold beer cannot be replicated anywhere within that bottle but we will likely drink it all the way down. Parenting is a steamy hot shower on your sticky, sweaty skin. A swim in a warm ocean. A cosy blanket, a roaring fire, a kiss.
Choosing parenthood may not make us happier overall, there are definitely some desperate lows involved, but we walk the path because the highs are intoxicating. They leave us begging for more. They are incomparable. They are our children.