A few days ago, my family and I spent the evening with my brother and his partner. Usually when we spend time with the extended family, the two of them graciously drive to our home in the ‘burbs, knowing that it is easier for us not to venture out with our young children. We appreciate this greatly, but every so often, I feel that it is time for us to pile into the circus on wheels and drive to their home in the city.
This is sometimes a bittersweet experience for me; we walk into their home, commenting on the gorgeous new artwork they have acquired on a recent trip to Santa Fe, stopping in the kitchen to grab a drink from the vast array of selections on the bar, and then we head downstairs. They have completely renovated their basement, and it is practically a residential nightclub. It is impeccably decorated, complete with a seating area, bar, and dance floor.
As we wander around, noticing the latest additions to this enticing haven of hedonism, I feel a twinge of envy. My brother fills me in on their latest adventures, and a thought slams into me: Do they have a better life than we do?
I ran into some friends last weekend, and as we talked, the dad of the two young girls raised this same question. He was talking about his sister, who had no children, and how much more freedom and relaxation she enjoys. So I asked him, bluntly, “Do people without kids have a happier life?” He emphatically responded, “YES.”
While it is obvious that he adores his two children, and much of our conversation was tongue-in-cheek, there was an underlying current of truth. It is certain that adults without children are free to pursue their interests and hobbies, not to mention sleep. They can travel unencumbered without having to secure childcare and endure guilt, they can exercise when they want to, they can devote more time to their social lives, and solitude is not such a black-market commodity.
But are they happier?
Being a nostalgia junkie, I often indulge myself in a meandering trip down memory lane. I love reliving the old days with my college friends, looking through old photos, and just losing myself in my memories. I’m not sure why, but I love remembering who I used to be, and how that girl pertains to the mom that I am now. But frequently when I am in the middle of one of these “flashbacks,” I wonder,
How much are we allowed to miss our old lives?
I was reflecting on my “old life” the other day; I moved to Denver 12 years ago as a 22 year old new professional, and recently I happened to drive by the crappy old apartment that served as my first home when I moved to town- I hadn’t seen it in years. It was such a surreal experience for me that I drove to a coffee shop and frantically scribbled down my fragmented thoughts:
As I drove by the faded grey building, I had the sensation of walking on one’s own grave. A Jeep full of teenagers who would have been my near-peers once upon a time pulled up next to me at the stoplight. In that instant, I was hyper-aware of my minivan, my carseats, and my status as a 34 year old mother of two.
I imagined that 22 year old me was still milling around the old digs, listening to Bjork and drinking vodka. Perhaps she would come out into the courtyard with her laundry basket, clad in a tank top in the frigid weather, still high on the powerful experience of walking down to the community laundry room to do her own grown-up laundry.
She turns her head and catches a glimpse of the taillights of a blue-grey Toyota Sienna, the vehicle that would transport the unborn fruits of her womb. She will climb the stairs, flop to the ground on the landing, and lean up against the front door. She will light a cigarette and try to imagine what her next move will be to combat the tedium, to fill the void.
And I will keep driving to the nearest Starbucks and some indulgent quiet time. The song Hotel California comes on the radio as the perfect complement to my deja-vu experience, and I remember a late night in that unimpressive first domicile: a friend of mine stayed the night and taught me the bar chords to the Eagles classic. (I promptly unlearned them.)
I always cleaned my old apartment every Friday evening as soon as I got home from work, ushering in the weekend and all its limitless possibilities. To dine alone was a burden and not a luxury. I glance one last time in the rearview mirror at the parking lot that was mine two Camrys ago, and I take a final look at 22 year old me. She stares back at me with her hand on her hip, vitality permeating every cell and pulsing carelessly around her energy field. She is reckless, full of bravado but lacking any real confidence. She has just been born, hasn’t yet found her place in the world. She doesn’t know what I know.
I think back on that person that I used to be, and I know for a fact that I am happier now. I am more complete, I know who I am, and I feel more comfortable in my own skin. But what if there was a third scenario, one in which I had really “arrived” at adulthood but had decided against parenthood? Would I always feel that something in my life was missing?
I have always wanted to be a mother- there was never a time in my life when I didn’t imagine my life with children in it. I would never trade my life now for one in which I was free to roam, sleep, play, and devote all my free time to my career and passions. Do I look down on people who choose a life without children? Absolutely not.
I think all parents long for a balance between family time and freedom. But the question for me boils down to this- How much are we allowed to crave independence, or miss our “old lives?” At what point does that longing for space and freedom makes us ungrateful? Whenever I launch into a tangent about how challenging it is to be a mother, or how unpleasant it is to dine with my kids, or how much I hate getting ready for school in the morning, I feel hyper-aware of people who may be reading or listening to me who don’t have kids- but desperately want them. And then I feel as though it is somehow offensive or disrespectful for me to complain, or pine for a few hours or days of husband-wife time without kids.
It is almost as though there are two clear paths, each leading to a different life in a parallel universe. One life involves lying in bed with my husband on a Saturday morning, relaxing for as long as we like, me drinking coffee against my pillows while he spreads the newspaper over our bedspread. We plan a lazy day at home, or a day-trip with friends, and pick our favorite restaurant for dinner that night. The alternate life begins somewhat similarly, but there are two children draped across us, demanding, “All done bed! Go stairs!” and pummeling us with milk-leaking sippy cups, before we reluctantly emerge from our bed to pack a bag for a day at the zoo. Though we are desperate for more sleep and annoyed by their antics, they are also nuzzling us, and making us laugh, and loving each other.
Which life is better? Which is happer? There is such variance in personal preferences, and we each must identify what we perceive to be the most optimal quality of life. Is it a life with fewer restrictions, less tedium, and more spontaneity? Or does it involve the richness and unique brand of love that comes with being a parent? I suppose it comes down to- Which one would you choose? And I think, in our hearts, we each know the answer.
What do you think? What is your recipe for happiness? And do you ever miss your younger days before you became a parent?
It is funny that you wrote about having kids draped all over you in bed, because that was so my night and morning today. Was it crazy, was it a bit uncomfortable having four people crammed in a queen sized bed? Hell yes. Would I trade it for the world? No!! Great post and seriously as usual can so relate!!
Thanks Janine! I hear you! It is messy, uncomfortable, frustrating, and more, but I can’t imagine life any other way…
Stephanie, what a well-written & thoughtful piece! I ask myself this question a lot..my hubs & I were together a lot of happy years before our peanut arrived. I wouldn’t change a thing now, but I allow myself to revel in the memories of less complicated, better rested days from “before” 😉
Thank you so much Jen! I think your perspective is perfect!
This post reminded me of something I read in, I think it was Ann Pleshette Murphy’s book on motherhood, but I couldn’t find the quote…. Anyway, it was about the research that actually does show that childless people report greater levels of happiness, and that marital satisfaction declines with the birth of a child, and then increases again when the kids leave the nest. One of the women interviewed in the book explained the findings (about happy childless people) by saying something to the effect of, “of course! they don’t experience the depth of the heartache, nor the exhilaration of love that we do.” The childless life – carefree, independent, etc. – has its appeal and ease, but it’s more of an even keel, whereas parenting gives us the intensity of the good and the bad, and takes us to higher planes of love and darker times of hurt (paraphrasing – so wish I could find the exact quote!!)
Almost 7 years into mothering, now, it’s hard to imagine my “previous life,” and I am certain that whether we have kids or not, our lives/interests of our 30s will not be the same as when we were in our 20s. I’m finding that I can make the time to read, and work, and have time to myself, but then I also get all the awesomeness that comes from the two little creatures that are now so much a part of my life that I cannot imagine it any other way.
Great post – definitely made me think and reflect!!
You make such excellent points, Sarah- thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment! If you think of the book, let me know! It sounds like something I would love to read! I feel I have read/heard something similar, if not the actual quote you are thinking of, and I wholeheartedly agree with the assertion that the type of happiness experienced by those without kids is more “even keel.” I think you articulated that perfectly! We must have become parents at about the same time- my oldest is nearly seven as well, and I too cannot imagine life any other way.
I’m pretty sure it was from the Pleschette Murphy book The Seven Stages of Motherhood. I actually read it before I had kids (I had to ‘research’ motherhood first, LOL). I looked through it today to try to find the quote but couldn’t. I think it might be worth a re-read now…
Thank you so much! I will definitely check it out!
This is such a thought-provoking post. Your description of your past self had me reminiscing too! Yes, I miss that often but as you said, you know what she didn’t. I’m a more confident and feel more fulfilled. And you know what? I envy parents with older kids more than people without them!
Thanks for such a great comment, and I agree with you- there will come a time when our children are more independent, and we will maybe have the best of both worlds, in some respects. I find myself envying my retired parents a lot, too, and I try to remember that I will desperately miss this stage of parenting some day!
Oh yes, I envy my parents too! But you’re absolutely right – there’s nothing like the phase where they are so innocent and dependent on you for everything.
A few years ago my childless friend Laura asked me while giggling to herself that she knew the answer already, if my wife and I could fly to Seattle with them. Prior years they’ve gone to Prague and Jamaica and all other exotic places that we had to decline, but at least they asked us without giggling. Now they don’t even bother asking.
While not having kids is certainly more convenient, I find it hard to believe that those people are happier, at least not all the time. I have a lot of friends who don’t have kids, and I’m sure seeing me with mine is a huge part of that, and I don’t begrudge them that status. Can they afford nicer things? Sure. Can they travel much more easily? Yes. Can they color on a placemate a restaurant without looking goofy? No chance.
You are the comment king. Seriously. That was the perfect response, and your last line in particular kind of made my day. Awesome.
I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, Stephanie. Whatever choice we make, we can be happy with it if we decide to be!! Great thoughts!
Fabulous Post. I don’t know what else to say.
Thanks Mom! xo
There’s definitely something of “the grass is always greener” mentality involved, don’t you think? As my peer cohort nears the age of massive existential angst, those of us without children think everything would be different/better if we had families RIGHT NOW and those of us with children are nostalgic for the four-hour lunches and late nights we indulged in during university…
You are so right about that. I think we all succumb to that mentality from time to time… thanks for that fantastic comment!
People are happy—both single, married, parents—based on their attitude, not on whether their current situation is the end goal that they had always imagined for themselves. I have to believe you were just as happy without kids as you are with kids, yes? I would like to be a parent, but that doesn’t mean I’m not currently happy with my life right now.
Thanks for another great post! I was musing recently about my former, less complicated life, and someone gave me a look like,”What are you talking about? Are you crazy!?”
I’m the only one in a family of 4 kids to have children and it drove me crazy for a long time. Selfishly it drove me crazy because I wanted to be an aunt. It drove my siblings crazy because they knew what I’ve now accepted… and it reminds me of Eat Pray Love (I know, I’m bringing that book up) where one of the characters says “Having kids is like getting a tattoo on your forehead. You really need to be committed to the decision.”
I welcome any and all references to Eat Pray Love. Plus, yours fit perfectly. Thanks Jean!
I am still trying to decide which I’d prefer – I still don’t know the answer. I always thought I’d have kids, but I think it was more social conditioning than anything else. Now, I’m thinking about it for myself – really thinking. I still don’t know, because I can see two futures and not sure which one is better. I guess I’ll know when I know, huh?
BTW, you have a beautiful family. 🙂
Thank you so much Natalie! There are definitely perks to either life, and there is certainly no right or wrong choice!
Great post! I just think this topic is so unquantifiable. There’s no way to compare objectively the short-term misery that parenthood often entails with the huge bursts of satisfaction and joy that you also experience as a parent. The highs are so much better, but the lows are much lower, at least for me. After researching this topic, I don’t think anyone will ever find a way to compare parents to non-parents in a meaningful way in terms of life satisfaction.
There are days when I haven’t showered, when I’ve spent too much time arguing with my son over his food aversions, when my daughter has been ushered to her room in the midst of an ear piercing screaming tantrum, when I’ve once again missed exercise due to kids not cooperating-these are the days when I want some childless time. But only for awhile. I was never one of those people who felt I needed children to complete my life, but I’m a much happier person in many ways than I was before I decided to have children. I also think I was a rather boring person before my children came along…
I don’t believe happiness can really be measured in that respect. We have to look at the things that make us happy. What makes childless people happy? What makes people with children happy?
This was very thought provoking-thank you for writing this post!
I really enjoyed reading this post. I struggle with the same thing. Wouldn’t trade the kids for world and all that but I am often nostalgic for the good old days! I would have done things differently had I known then what I know now…traveled more, slept more, learned some new skills. But, I imagine a lot of things I have learned about myself over the past 8 years have been through parenting. So I am thankful for the path parenthood has led me down, even if I am moving down it at a much slower pace than I would be without my three little darlings tagging along.
What a perfect comment- thank you so much for that! I’m glad you stopped by and added your perspective!
I think it depends on the person and their partner on whether or not they are happier with kids our would be happier without kids. Raising kids is definitely a full time job (i have a niece and nephew at my house with their parents 24/7); however, I believe having kids is one of the greatest blessings in life and can truly make you the happiest person on earth! So, I say having kids in the family makes life happier.
I like to think (hope) that all people are happy in whatever situation they happen to find themselves in. For me- being a mother has been the greatest honor and adventure of my life and I wouldn’t change a single moment. I also can’t imagine growing old without them.
I don’t think there’s a right answer, as far as how much we are allowed to miss our old lives… But I do think that if you never contemplate these things, you’re probably just floating unconsciously through life. I loved my life before I had a child and I love my life now. Asking me to pick which is better would be like asking me to decide whether I like cheese or chocolate better. I think it’s totally normal to miss your autonomy. How could you not?? But I also think that being a parent is an enriching experience that is more than worth the cost. And I didn’t always want to be a parent.. Although my pregnancy was planned, I was pretty ambivalent about becoming a mother until my daughter was born, actually, at which point I fell in love. That’s the thing, as much as I miss my old life, I never got to experience the feeling of the kind of love that makes your heart want to explode for this little person, which is pretty freaking awesome.
Well, to build upon your food metaphor- do what I do, and instead of choosing between cheese and chocolate, dip your cheese curds in your ice cream! No, seriously, I think the key for me is to build in as much “me-time” as I can, so that I feel more complete, balanced, and less resentful and wistful of those days of freedom. I think that is the closest one can get to having your cake and eating it too… Thanks Pam!
I don’t think either life is happier or better. I think you choose happiness in whatever phase of your life you are in. I love my life with my kids, but I loved my life with just my husband before kids. And I will love my life as an empty nester, and (hopefully) as a grandparent.
This whole shebang is so beautifully written, Stephanie. You’ve got a real gift, friend. After I read certain parts, I closed my eyes and I could SEE you in your bed (not in a creepy way) and FELT what you felt driving by your old apartment.
I think the short answer is that parenting is a joyous responsibility. And any responsibility starts to weigh on a person after a while.
I think the more in-depth answer has to do with how much of ourselves we’re able/willing to share and for what amount of time we’re willing to share them. A huge chunk of the life I used to know is gone and I’m not sure that it’ll be waiting for me when I’m ready to reclaim it. Who knows if I’ll even want it by then?! But in the meantime, I have two adorable, healthy, hilarious little people who call me Mom, and I can’t imagine my life without them.
Plus, I’m gonna need someone to change MY diapers in a few decades and my husband is too cheap to hire helpl.
OK, you win the Made My Day Comment Award! Thank you SO much for that- seriously. Your first paragraph was definitely not at all creepy, and made me feel like I accomplished what I set out to do, at least in part. And thanks for the rest of your comment too- I could not agree with you more, pal.
There are so many facets to this topic! Clearly not a “cut and dried” answer. I applaud people who know they do not really want children and do not get “bullied” into having them. They would be doing an injustice to themselves and the gift of little lives. Someone mentioned being envious of partents with older children, understandable, but PLEASE do not rush it. As hard as it is to believe sometimes, it is over so quickly and you will yearn for the little hands that truly need you, and the blatant undeniable love that you know still exists in them, if it hasn’t become even stronger, but they no longer feel the need to wrap themselves around your legs, or sit on your lap(at least for extended periods) There is much to be said for every stage. Personally, I always knew I wanted children. This completes me. I worry about them moving on, but again it is an expected part of being a parent. It didn’t work out like I had planned, but I am proud of the mother I am and the people I had a hand in being who they are.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment- I definitely concur that there are things about each age and stage to be celebrated, and other aspects that are simply to be survived. There is something beautiful and magical about every stage I have come to with my children. Thanks for your perspective!
Sorry to be a slacker, everyone, for not responding to every single comment! I want to thank you all for adding such well-articulated thoughts and ideas to this discussion. For those of you who commented that there is no real way to measure happiness, that a person with or without children will find it in their own way, I definitely agree. A person can choose to be happy in whatever stage of life they are in. I do not believe there is any clear-cut “formula” or way to concretely measure a person’s happiness, and how parenthood factors into that. But it is definitely interesting to think about it, isn’t it? I appreciate all your contributions- thanks for sharing!
This is a great post!! Like many others who commented, I think happiness depends on the individual and the situation. Personally, I don’t think I would be happy without kids. I think I would feel like something was missing. Would I be freer? yes. More career focused? yes. Have more money? yes. Happier? I doubt it. However, there are some people who just don’t like kids or want kids of their own. That’s o.k., too, if that’s where they find their happiness. Either way, I think we all have good days & bad days & days where we wonder what it would be like to live in someone else’s shoes for a while! 🙂
It’s not offensive, disrespectful or anything negative for you to wonder. Or to question and explore. I think for most people, the grass is greener on the other side at times. I enjoyed your post and always love your honesty and your writing 🙂
But in the end, whether or not life is better without kids has much to do with whether you got to make that decision or have it foisted upon you.
So thanks for being sensitive about it.
You are most welcome and thank *you* so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree that many of us fall into the greener grass mentality. I also very much agree with your assertion that our level of happiness is also related to how much control we had over our choices. That is a really important point. Thanks for reading, and for your lovely words.
Steph. F*ck. This. This. This, this, this. As you know, I am reading and loving. Everything of yours. This, though. I read this three times, paced, thought about what to say and know that I will not do my comment justice. I’ll try…wow. Wow. (pacing and maybe peeing- okay totally peeing because it’s good thinking time)…*pause* (because this is a for real pee and if this comment cuts me off when I’m back, I’ll be angry)*
I’m back and want to say that at the beginning, I was all like “yeah, but life was meaningless until I had my kid” and then I remembered. It wasn’t. It was fun in a way that will never be fun again. Your words and your brother’s life brought me back to such happy days in Denver (where was your crappy apartment? – my first was at Milwaukee and 17th and then at Columbine and 14th and and – weird) when I spent time with friends who never wanted to have kids…and therefore, neither did I. Or something. And then you brought it around to now. My awesome friend, this is amazing. Awesome amazing. I should thank you for the trip to the place I used to be. This brought me there.
*I cc’d this, peed, went upstairs for another chugle of wine and thought you might appreciate the momentous effect this had on me by me sharing that as well….
I would be lying if I said your comment didn’t make me feel all tingly with glee. Seriously I am all lit up from your sweet, lovely words, friend. You made my night. And also, now I have to pee. I love you loads!!! Thanks for all the sharing- you kind of bring tears to my eyes. (Anyone who reads your comment and then mine is going to be like, “What’s with the two drunk, mushy chicks?” Yeah, I had some wine, too.)
Oh and my sh*thole apartment was in Thornton. Thornton! La-ame.
Lately I have been missing my pre-kids self. I am not sure if it’s the beginning of a midlife crisis or what, but I definitely miss the more carefree, creative, happy person I was before I had kids.
However – would I want to be married without children? No. I love my kids. Right now, I’m not sure I’m happier than I was 8 years ago. But I know I’m more fulfilled. And I think the less-happy person I am now is a product of stress and sleeplessness that will ease in a few years. (I hope.)
Great post. 🙂
JD, thank you so much for stopping by to read and comment. I agree 100% with your thoughts- well said.
This is a beautiful article Stephanie and I completely identify with so many things you said. There is this pinboard in my bedroom with snaps of hubby and me from almost 10 years ago. There are times when people ask me why I only have old snaps and none of the new ones. Of course I have new ones of us and the kid all over the house but none on this pin board. I tell them that this pin board is a reminder of a lovely decade, a carefree decade and a deliriously maddeningly happy decade of just us 🙂 It remains untouched also because when I get really tired or frustrated or both with parenting and other preoccupations, I get to look back and be happy that there was a time when lounging around and a wardrobe sans food stains were possible 🙂 I think there is a time for everything and you need to make the best of it. Of course hindsight is also always 20/20 since the big picture makes you forget the smaller pains and frustrations. I honestly think a full life means to enjoy all kinds of love. Love from your parents, from loved ones, from the significant one and from your little ones. That is a full circle for me. I look back at the love in the last decade but i would not trade this decade for that coz the unconditional love I see in my son’s eye for me is non comparable. No amount of free time or snoozing or impromptu vacations can ever make up for that love. And that is always worth it 🙂
Your comment was absolutely stunning; I may need to print it out and read it over and over again when I lose perspective. I love your idea of having a pinboard of just pictures of you and your husband before children. What a fantastic idea. I have one somewhere- why don’t I dig it out and display it? Thank you so much for this.
I was bored before kids. But not bored-bored. I always had a hobby going on, but life is more fun with my kids. They are constant entertainment. They drive me up the wall with their fighting and disrespect, but the snuggling and funny things they do make up for that other crap…at least so far. 🙂 I also didn’t have kids until I was 35, so I had plenty of time to do a bunch of traveling and other things – not that I planned it like that, it just ended up that way. Great post!
Neither my brother nor step sisters have children. When my girls are hollering and climbing all over me, making conversation between us impossible, I catch a look of satisfaction on their faces that seems to say, “I’m so glad that’s not me.” It makes me wish I could transfer to them, just for that moment, the power of all the love and joy that my children give me. I’d blast it from my Supermom fingertips, and watch them stumble backwards into the wall and slump to the floor, stunned, blind and stupid. Even at their most annoying, I’d take my children over anything that I’ve given up to have them and I’m not sure we could find many parent who wouldn’t say the same. We’re going to get most of our freedoms back later in life and have a huge advantage in our understanding of humanity. I’d place a high bet that any study conducted would show regret of not having children is astronomically higher that regret of having them. Happiness measured at intervals throughout life would certainly reflect stresses, but overall the enriching power of parenthood would shine through. My prediction has been made. : )
Awesome topic, great post. How is it that everyone else is in a major summer writing slump and you are pulling this caliber of genius week after week?
(P.S. As is usual, you have inspired me and now I want to write about stunning child-free people silly with my special powers…)
Aw, shucks. I don’t know about you having any writing slump, even your comment was eloquent and perfect! This- “I’d place a high bet that any study conducted would show regret of not having children is astronomically higher that regret of having them.” YES. You are so right. Your comment was so insightful, particularly the part about your siblings and their “looks” and your superpowers. You’ve got great perspective, friend.
This is why I love reading your posts, you always make me think past my gut reaction. At first I was like hell yes we were happier as a couple before kids. The truth is we had more couple time before the girls but happier? I’m not so sure. We have a more “mature” concept of happy now. When I look at my our in-laws who do not have children, they don’t seem happier. Sure they have more exotic adventures unless you think navigating diapers is adventure. But they do not get to have a little girl hug them with all their might.
Last weekend I said to my husband remember when a Saturday meant getting up at 10am, having brunch and going for a hike? He replied that he wouldn’t change a thing.
So I guess we are happier with children than without!
Thanks for sharing your process with me, Kerri. I have the same gut-reaction as you- obviously people without kids have a “higher quality of life” in many respects… but then I remember what I’d be giving up. The depth of my love for them is mind-boggling. Thanks for such a great comment!
I have so many friends without kids that I am confronted with this topic all the time. I don’t think their life is better, just different. I am jealous of certain things about their life, and vice versa. All I know is that I just recently said to my husband that, if I hadn’t found him and had Claire, I probably would be a degenerate. Yes, I’m tired and life is harder, but I have purpose and I feel held by my family in a way that I didn’t by anything else.
Very interesting. I think that it all depends on what road you wanted to travel.
Happiness means something different for everyone. And that happiness does not mean that they or you are enjoying life more or having more fun. It’s all about you and your preference.
For me, family life is what I eventually wanted. I didn’t picture myself as a Mom. I love it. Did I grieve my old days? You bet. But right here, tomorrow, is beautiful and I am embracing all of it. Just as my child-less friends are.
My son is my world. The fun I have with him is not comparable to my old days. It’s different. But the old me is still there when I hang out with friends.
Happy is what YOU make it.
I concur- happiness is definitely a choice, and you can find it wherever you happen to be in your life!
As you said everyone knows which choice is best for them in their hearts. Yes those without kids have freedoms we don’t have, but I wouldn’t swap places for the world. And I feel like when I approach those golden years, my life would be less complete without them.
I totally agree! Thanks for reading and commenting!
Such a well written post! As for me, I was never the party animal type, so my life as a new mama isn’t so bad. Sure I would love to go out after my son goes to bed at 7, but we don’t have any family that would watch him & we can’t afford a nanny everyday. I like having just one baby because I still have my “me” time. I honestly don’t think I could handle more than one. My friends with more than one just seem so unhappy & it scares me.
Lots of thoughts on this one. First, yes, of course you miss your “old” life; it’s only natural. But was I happier then? I don’t think so. And I have the benefit of having seen “adult” life, comfortable in my skin, since I had H when I was almost 37. I think if you don’t want kids, then you should not have them, because it is difficult. But for the rest of us, happiness does not equal the moments of happiness in an additive way, but the cumulative effect having kids adds to your life as a person. This was a bit rambly, but what I’m saying is, while I’m not happy (or even happier) every moment of every day, I *am* happier for having had H, no matter how difficult it gets.
When people is happy they don’t even ask the question who is happier. If you are happy you just share what makes you happy, but never compare yourself to find out if you are happier than others. My husband and I are childcare happy people and we respect those who chose to have children, but definitely not everybody is meant to be parent 🙂
I meant “childfree” lol
After living with my brother in law and his family, wife and 2 kids. I don’t see them as being happier than my wife and I are. We decided not to have children and after watching my 2 and 6 year old nephews for 1 weekend I know we made the right decision. It’s just such a PITA to raise children. The only way I would do it is if I had millions and didn’t have to go to work. I could get a nanny for some of the times and my job would be raising children. Good luck parents, your life is simply not for me.
I hate that parents feel they are the only ones who know this ‘special type of love’ because you people have children. Do childfree people not have partners that they love? Or pets or families. Get off your high horse and please realise that NOT only parents know what it feels like to love something with their whole heart. Just because you made a person (an addition to this ridiculously overpopulated world) does NOT mean that you alone know what it feels like to love. There are so many people out there who choose not have children because of the state of the world. Not because they want to sleep in longer or be spontaneous. It is SELFISH to give your child the next 80-100 of this hideous world, if you ‘mothers’ really cared, you’d help a child in need and adopt. This is a world where people have companion animals but eat animals without a second though. Contributing to diseases and global warming. You parents are RIDICULOUS. You don’t think. All you think about is the fact that you want to add another of your VAIN selves to this screwed up earth. Of course all these women are going to ‘relate’ to this pathetic post. You don’t think past the fact that ‘my kid is cute’ UGH!!! YOU ARE ALL the reason there is no hope. You sad sad ‘mothers’ .
Well. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s clear that you have strong feelings about this. I don’t believe that I ever mentioned thinking that people without children can’t experience real love, nor did I question their intentions or refer to them as “selfish.” So I’m not really sure why you would attack parents as being “selfish”. I think you missed the point. I also object to a person who reads a politely written post jumping in with name-calling and overt hostility. But I allowed it to be viewed anyway, because I think you only make yourself look foolish when you spew anger on somebody else’s blog post.
Im tired of hearing some mothers saying that those without children will never experience real deep love. I love and feel grief as much as any mom out there.also i wish mothers were more honest and i think they arent because saying you are unhappy as a parent may come across as saying you dont love your child. Just be honest already.
I realise this post is very late but I couldn’t resist. I am a new parent (had my baby 6 months ago) so I am relatively inexperienced compared to other parents. However, I have discovered a few things since embarking on this amazing journey. First, becoming a parent makes you grow up fast! It’s like stepping out of a serene fantasy world. When I gave birth to my son, it made me realise how much love I could give, not only to him but to the whole world!I know I am cap of adopting a child because I know how much love I have in my heart. I have empathy for every parent on earth and want to help others in need. I also want to teach my son to do the same. My aim is to bring a good person (not just achild) Ito the community/world who will make a positive difference to others lives, however small the impact. So, yes, we may be over populated but we need the new generation to make a difference and help solve problems in the world. . . And, on a selfish level, I love his cuddles and snuggles and the heart bursting love I feel. . And, his smile could melt ice, it is like sunshine! This is my reward for the hard work. So, personally, I am happier than before because of the meaning it has brought to my life. Rome was not built in a day though, so the real joys come from hard work! X
I truly liked your story, it is so refreshing to hear the honesty and fearlessness in your reflections before you were a parent. I am a 32 year old woman, I have been married for 6 years and my husband and I do not want children. I stumbled on your post because my sister who is 4 years younger than me just had a baby and now it is even more obvious her sister who is over 30 has not had a child. My cousin told me not to wait that its almost to late for me. Like I’m a pumpkin, by the way she is 25 and has a 9 year old.
It got me thinking would my life be more complete if I had a child? This is actually what my cousin said to me and reading your story I think its a different kind of happiness. You have 2 beautiful children, yes you don’t have the freedom anymore but you have something that so many people only pray to have a husband and children. I know I don’t want children but I’m going to say no and yes to whether or not we have more fun we do have the time a freedoms yet we do not have the children. I know deep down that probably out weighs the childless life for people who have always wanted children.