Sunday, September 14, 2014

Parents VS. Non-parents

I read an interesting article this morning. It shared the statistics and facts about people with children versus people without. Ideas such as "non-parents get more sleep" and "non-parents have more exciting social lives" were proven to be statistically correct. The title of this article is "Hands down, people without kids have better lives - except for this one major thing."

It made great points that are all too true. Non-parents are generally more healthy, get more sleep, have more financial and career freedom, and better social lives than parents. On the other side, parents worry more and suffer from higher stress levels. One would think this means non-parents are happier than parents. But statistics show that while parents are more stressed and have less freedoms we are, in fact, more often happier in life than those without children.

Being a parent is hard. I won't sugar coat that. I think any young woman who just wants to get pregnant cause she wants a cute baby needs a wake up call. Pregnancy is hard. Birth is hard. Parenting is much harder.

Where do I even begin... The sleep deprivation? The financial stress? Giving up your own desires and wants because the money/time needs to be put to better use? How about the severe lack of social life? There's also that awkward stage where you're a married parent and no one else around you understands the dynamics of married life let alone being a parent. Things I  can't even put into words (probably because I'm so tired) but that parents just universally know.

Why can't you just come out to the bar last minute? Oh. Babysitters need to be found last minute. Or people come over or get out and your toddler is tired and cranky. Your childless friends make remarks and roll their eyes or sigh in exasperation. (Can I say how how many times I've heard comments and wanted to punch a wall?! You know what we need instead of remarks? Encouragement.)

The looks you get in the grocery store when a tantrum comes on from the toddler who can't get her words out and is trying to communicate. (And god forbid, the comments. Thankfully haven't had those yet but I've heard the stories.)

The managing a household, and bills, and chores, while sustaining another human's life and needs constantly. The whining at the end of the day when you are so. Touched. Out. You want a break and can't get one. Wait, maybe I'm just talking about moms here.... *wink*

There's also families like me. One car families where the mom is stuck at home and looses her mind not being able to get out of the house or run errands or go to play dates or make it to birthday parties or church or do anything. But why can't you just come?!

And then there is the constant judgement from people who parent differently or lead different lifestyles. I could go on and on!

But then......

Then there's the smiles. Oh man those chubby cheeked smiles and toothy grins! The little voice that burps and then says "esscuuse bee!" and puts her shoes away so happily when mommy asks. There's the perfect sleeping cherub face that you hold at night. The toys and adventures and giggles and gibberish and independence and milestones. And the excitement! Oh so much excitement all the time. The joy is indescribable. For all that parenthood is a hard road, it is the most enthralling, amazing, and fulfilling path I've been on yet.

Your husband coming home from work while you're making dinner and your daughter's eager screams when she realizes daddy's finally home. Walking into the frozen yogurt shop and selecting fro-yo and toppings and sharing them with a messy faced delighted toddler. Bathtime and teethbrushing and bedtime stories. And man the cuddles! I feel like there aren't enough words to describe the experiences and joy I've felt since becoming a mom.

The days are long, the nights are long, and it's lonely sometimes. Comparably, I could see why it would seem non-parents have better lives. By society's standards they probably do. But what I have is richer in experience, in joy, in learning. You won't learn lessons like the ones marriage and parenthood teach you. And its a constant non-stop education haha. It's A Wonderful Life!

As the writer of the above article so perfectly wrote:
"Despite all of the negatives in their lives—the stress, the unhealthy lifestyle, the meager social life, the financial challenges, the pop culture oblivion, and the longing for younger days—parents still find themselves happier. We can’t prove exactly what drives these numbers. I have good friends who are physically unable to have kids, which no doubt affects their happiness. Some people choose not to have kids because of other hardships in their lives. And, surely, lots of unhappy parents only say they’re happy because they think they’re supposed to.  
But maybe joy indeed doesn’t just have to come from extrinsic things and fabulous social lives—it can come from the adventure of raising a family, from teaching and nurturing others, from sacrifice, and from unconditional love."

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