when i found out i was pregnant with the munchkin, beloved struggled with my decision to have him. we were both students, i had just lost my job (our main source of survival), and we weren't married. from the beginning i knew i wanted to usher this baby into the world. not really because i felt an instant connection, and not because i was brave beyond measure, but because my momma always raised me to keep my legs closed, and in the event i happened to get preggo, i'd woman-up and have the baby. and so i did. and this little boy has been an amazing addition to my life. quite honestly, had it not been for him i might not have fought so hard to keep my relationship with beloved together. i might have fallen apart when the shit hit the fan. but i didn't. knowing i had to keep it together, knowing i couldn't draw up into a ball and fall deeply into depression, has motivated me to be the best woman i can be for my son.
i'm sure my story isn't unique. i'm sure millions of other women have found themselves knocked up sooner than they thought, and had to change their course in order to be the best mommy they could be. sometimes i wonder what my life would be like if we'd just waited to have the munchkin. when i hear my friends talking about jetting off to the Bahamas or going to some club, i'm a bit jealous. but the question begs to be asked...am i happy? are you?
a recent Newsweek article took a look at a study that measured the happiness of people with and without children. it found that childless people are, according to the study, 7% happier than parents. the article states,
"Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers," says Florida State University's Robin Simon, a sociology professor who's conducted several recent parenting studies, the most thorough of which came out in 2005 and looked at data gathered from 13,000 Americans by the National Survey of Families and Households. "In fact, no group of parents—married, single, step or even empty nest—reported significantly greater emotional well-being than people who never had children. It's such a counterintuitive finding because we have these cultural beliefs that children are the key to happiness and a healthy life, and they're not." (read the whole article here)so what is it about parenting that makes us both immeasurably ecstatic, but yet less happy than our childless counterparts. i think a lot of us (parents) would reject this study on an emotional level because we feel as though it calls our parenting and the love for our kids into question. on the other hand, i am inclined to agree. although i love my son beyond measure, parenting requires an immense amount of self-sacrifice. i am forever having to put my needs and wants on the back burner for my son. am i resentful? no. do i sometimes wish i didn't have to always be last? hell yes.
in the old days, parents, specifically women, didn't voice their needs. all of their time, money, and emotion was thrown into their children. women slaved over hot stoves, cleaned-up the house, catered to her husband, and buried her own needs and dreams. today, our focus is slightly shifting. our society is more open to mothers pursuing goals and dreams, but somehow it still has to play second to making sure their children are taken care of. and i guess that makes sense. once you decide to have a child, you take on a whole new set of responsibilities. you are now responsible not only for you life, but for theirs. it makes sense to have to put your child's need ahead of your own, but damn if it doesn't suck sometime.
i know you can't always have it both ways, but why do we (women/parents) feel so guilty about putting ourselves first?
if study is correct and children are not the key to happiness, then what is?
i'm not sure, but i think the answer lies in loving yourself. if you do not love yourself and aren't happy with yourself and your decisions, then you will not be a good wife/mother/partner/friend. nothing good can come of a poisoned tree. and no amount of happiness can come to you if you do not take some time for yourself & just love you!
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