Job vs. Lifestyle
"All Joy and No Fun" was featured on Good Morning America this morning, and it was great to hear someone else articulate the difference between the happiness we feel as parents and the happiness non-parents experience. Although I don't think one has anything to do with the other, we parents tend to compare, because we've known both. I don't agree with the statement some make that people who don't want children are selfish. I do think that people who don't want children are often motivated by a desire to live a more selfish lifestyle. That's not an insult, it's just how it is. I wouldn't give up my role as a mother, but I'd be supremely happy if I could decide to go for a run in the morning, have lunch with a girlfriend on a patio in peace, do some shopping in the afternoon, and then catch a late movie with my husband on Friday night. I'd be supremely happy to do anything without my children at this point actually, but that's because our situation is on the more extreme end of the spectrum with four kids and no help. Although day to day happiness can be achieved by enjoying the freedom to do whatever you want at the drop of the hat, in a survey, parents cited more meaningful moments and moments of deep joy and satisfaction throughout life because of their children Nothing worth having comes easily though, right?
Back when we were trying to get pregnant with Anna, I told the Sailor that I know it means more work now, just as our twins had entered a very easy age, but I wanted this for our future. The early years are hard, but having a larger family long term was my motivation. It was what my perfect twilight years looked like. The Sailor's perfect twilight years look more like fun Friday's and quiet Sundays, a nice truck, big house, and couple of dogs, but I'm optimistic that we can have both eventually.
Right now we're in the trenches. Anna is just getting over pneumonia the same week the twin's get braces, while Margo still wakes at least twice a night, which is the latest in a long line of draining circumstances over the past few months. This is life with young children. It's selfless, to the point that some days you wonder why you chose a path that prevents you from spoiling yourself ever. It's selfless to the point that you becomes overly sensitive to selfish behaviors and attitudes in others. Yesterday the Sailor came home and I had to shut myself in the bedroom for an hour, baby monitor off, just to breath for a minute, because it had been over 48 hrs since I last ate, pee'd, checked email, or even slept without child(ren) next to me.
Day to day right now, I don't always feel happy. I'm too worn out, but when I look at my life as a whole, I feel more than happy; I feel blessed and content. The pieces of my world that require the most work and can cause the most stress come together to form this quilt. It's unique and beautiful because it's something that money can't buy and liberty doesn't fulfill. Last night I decided that we needed to plan a family outing in the next couple of weeks, even if it means taking a day off of work and pulling the kids from school. We need to remind ourselves that being parents isn't a job, it's a lifestyle, and that we actually like who our children are. We forget that in the daily grind, and it's time to remind ourselves why we do this.