Listen. (And, incidentally, have you ever noticed how people only say "listen" when they're sick and tired of doing so, themselves?)
I'm tired of listening.
The studies and articles about delusional parents and the improbability of parental happiness need to dwindle out, please. It's getting really old.
This study from Time.com, in a nutshell, set out to prove that the more miserable parents were with their daily stress/boredom/noise levels, the happier they pretended to be. Even this one from Slate.com used the idea of chemical dependency in parents' brains to solidify the idea of happiness...but it still kinda missed the point for me.
All of these articles seem desperate to break down this idea that people could happy in their life choices. And really, that's all that parenting is. Not a status symbol, not a necessary milestone, but a job. One that- hopefully- you chose. Because this job, this one I took with a miniature yet noisy boss- would be hellish to someone without the desire to have it.
Because parenting is incredibly hard work. It's a 24/7 gig that requires non-stop stores of patience and energy. But the payoff is incredible. Seeing a kid say, do, or realize something brand new is an exceptional reward- and not just because it reflects on my skills as a Mom, either. The experience of creating a family member and then co-existing with her is something that can't be explained away by momentary levels of adrenaline nor can it be summed up by reactions to simulated stress.
And sure, there are lazy- and lousy- parents out there...but look around you. Aren't at least three of your co-workers playing Farmville right now? Work's what you make of it. (And yes, there are days when I'm a Farmville type of parent. That's why they send those Burger King coupons to you right in the mail.)
I've also been a nanny for close to ten years. And I love that job. I really dig watching these kids grow into fabulous, articulate people with exceptional collaging skills. Now that's a job surrounded by kids all day- am I deluding myself into thinking I'm content with my work there, too? If so, WHO IS ALLOWED TO BELIEVE THEMSELVES HAPPY?
There are so many things in life that people believe to be the height of adventure and excitement- deep sea diving, cliff jumping, eating terrifying foods- none of these are appealing to me in the least. But you won't see me decrying them as a valid way to live one's life, because here's the kicker: WHO CARES? And can you imagine if I wrote a series of articles on how single, childless people are deluding themselves in their supposed happiness and how their frittered away free time is actually a chemical response against boredom? I would be stoned to death. (More importantly- I'd be wrong.)
I could not possibly explain to the general public what I love about having a child, enough so to make you immediately want to adopt or give birth. P.J. and I have realized that the things we love about our little beastie are moments that sound unimpressive in the re-telling. Even between other parents the magic of your kid's hilarity isn't quite captured the same way. And that's just fine, because it's not my job to tell you how much you want kids. Just like it's no one else's job to convince me that I don't.
Am I ever bored? Elated? Tired? Hungry? Sure, but so are singletons, Asians, carpenters, and the obese. Everyone is happy and everyone is sad. And then it'll change in ten minutes and then it'll be the same for a month.
Listen. There's a really simple solution to this one. Don't want a kid? Don't have one. Want a brood of five? Mazel tov.
And take those kids/no kids water skiing, truffle hunting, and to the library. Go to work, drink eight glasses of water a day, and- at 103 years of age- drift away peacefully in your sleep.