My Thoughts on Motherhood, Happiness (and Competitive Sports)

Are childless couples happier? What kind of person do you have to be in order to enjoy parenthood? Is the choice whether to have children a selfish choice?

Yes, people get paid to write articles that raise those questions, but sometimes I think they should switch to writing about gas prices, or providing advice on growing tomatoes.  Or pick a favorite actress and write an article about her life story. Just stay away from trying to quantify happiness, please!

The problem with asking someone the question “Are you happy?” is that you may not get a genuine answer. I know plenty of people who probably do feel happy, but who would not, ever, admit it. Instead, they would prefer to say something critical about their own life and explain how there is much more to be desired. Then, there are those, who do just the opposite: never admit any dissatisfaction, for fear that someone would consider them “a failure.”  It provides comfort to state proudly, “You know, I am so happy, despite all odds.” And when it comes to children, people become defensive, judgmental, sentimental and overall…mental.

Who is happier: people who have children, or those, who do not? I am afraid we will never know for sure. Either way, we can’t base our attitude towards becoming a parent on studies made about other people, even if they did speak sincerely about their feelings and outcomes.

So, if you would like to read about happiness and choice, I’d say, maybe read Aristotle and Kant, not The Huffington Post and The Guardian.

But, wait, what are my thoughts on motherhood, then?

Well, I have a co-worker, who is one of 7 children. She says she got tired of being around kids when she was still a kid, so she doesn’t want any of her own. Her 6 siblings each have at least 2 children, though. I do sometimes wonder why, in a family of 7, she is the only one, who made this choice. They were all raised together, by the same parents. They share DNA and they share a lifetime of memories. She absolutely loves her nieces and nephews, and grandnieces, and grandnephews. So why not have her own children?

Let me tell you what I don’t think first: I don’t think the choice of whether to have a child is the single and most important factor in the pursuit of happiness.

I think my co-worker chose not to have children due to a number of reasons, and most of them are none of my business.

I also think that, if you rely mainly on your child to make you happy, or, if you rely on not having children to accomplish that, you are wrong (though you may never admit it in a survey).

I am an only child. I realized I wanted to have children when I was 17. I have a very cute daughter. I keep posting cheesy pictures of her.  Here she is, reaching for a tennis ball:

There are only two things I absolutely hate about parenthood:

1. Sippy cups: they always spill, leak or otherwise make a mess

2. Unwanted advice: people who never bothered to get to know you, are now suddenly telling you how to become a better parent, even though you never asked them. I mean people with no sense of personal boundaries, who would sit with you at a casual dinner and tell you that your child may die from an allergic reaction because you are spoon-feeding her mashed spinach.

The sippy cups will go away one day.

The rest is just part of human nature: ignorance, arrogance, and a desire to “compete” with others in areas that are clearly not competitive sports. You don't need to have children to encounter that, though some statistics may show that you see that type of attitude more when people talk about parenting ;-) It's just more offensive to be called a bad parent, than a bad athlete, of course.

I like competitive sports. In competitive sports, if you think you are better than someone, you have to at least work to prove it. The results are not always fair, but at least some amount of work is expected. You can’t just step on the court, racquet in hand, and loudly claim that you are better than Andy Murray. Though, if it makes you happy, you can always say you are better-looking.