Did having children change your level of happiness?
What a loaded question!
Ever since reading the articles listed below and then Lisa Belkin’s post about why these studies about parental happiness are wrong, I have been mulling this question over in my head.
I always remember hearing from early on in adulthood, that if your marriage was already in trouble and you were not as happy as you thought you could be, adding a child into the equation would not necessarily help an already problematic situation.
That being said, when I had my first child it was only a few months after our first wedding anniversary. Both my husband and I had been through a very stressful year. On my side of the marriage was, illness of very close family members, which took a toll on me emotionally. We both started new jobs and moved to South Florida’s rural Treasure Coast after living our entire lives in the New York and Boston metro areas. This was a total culture shock for both of us. To add to it, we had no family in Florida However, my mother was planning to relocate with my grandmother to the city north of us. My grandmother died just prior to the move which left me and my mother devastated.
In addition, I had some pretty serious medical issues which made my pregnancy “high risk” so we traveled to Miami (2 hours away) for all of my prenatal visits. Leaving my obstetrician in New York was one of the most difficult things I had to do. I secretly planned in my head to go back to NYC to deliver my baby up until my last trimester.
Finally I came to my senses and registered to deliver at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. It was a great hospital but left much to be desired when it came to mom’s creature comforts.
When I gave birth to my daughter…I was ecstatic! There was no post partum depression for me. All the sadness was behind me. It was winter in South Florida, the sun was shining and I was beaming. I had waited a long time to become a mother.
Fast forward two years…I delivered another little girl, again at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami…I could not have been happier. Oh…my medical problems continued with heart flutters etc. so no more pregnancies were advised. It was a momentary sadness. It did not take me long to realize that two children less than two years apart was going to keep me pretty busy for a very long time.
There were many moments between then and now that I have to say I experienced some unhappiness as a parent. Parenting was not easy and it still isn’t. Both my husband and I came from different religious and cultural backgrounds so that had its advantages and disadvantages. We worked out the “December Dilemma” and our respective families went along with the traditions and memories we were making for our family of four.
As I look back now…I was for the most part always happy…my glass is forever half full…I have never had a half empty glass that I can remember. For that I am thankful and feel blessed.
My mother died 11 years ago and my only sibling died 6 years ago, those were difficult losses to bear but my children and husband have been there for me.
It is difficult for me to even think about a life without having had my children and now I am fortunate to be a grandmother. Becoming a grandparent has made my life fuller than I could ever have imagined.
I now understand how my grandmother felt taking care of me and how my mother felt taking care of my girls. Life has come full circle in so many ways.
No matter what the studies say…I have a hard time believing that so many parents are unhappy being parents.
Maybe their expectations of parenthood are too high and thus happiness escapes them.
I truly feel for them.
What are your experiences and feelings about this discussion?