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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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Are You Happy Now?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 5:06 PM

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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8 Response to 'Are You Happy Now?'

  1. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215048180000#c9163301910146905444'> Wednesday, July 02, 2008 6:23:00 PM

    loving yourself is the key to happiness


  2. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215050760000#c8567986146704396300'> Wednesday, July 02, 2008 7:06:00 PM


    What a wonderful post! Having come to parenthood late in life...I was 35 when we adopted our first daughter, so I did not feel like I was deferrring goals and dreams. I had achieved some professional and educational successes. I had accomplished some dreams...like holding public office and serving on various prominent Boards. So when I became a parent I was ready to be a parent. I was ready to be all in as they say. I still am! It has been the best thing I have ever done, bar none.

    I am happy being a mother. Hearing my children call me now is always surprising and always joyous!

    I am happy for the most part...period!


  3. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215057960000#c6250305564584004611'> Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:06:00 PM

    torrance: torrance, i know i can always count on you to come through with the one-liners lol

    lovebabz: thank you. i agree that becoming a mother a little later probably does the body good. you've already accomplished quite a bit & have lived. i was 25 when my son was born. although i've accomplished a lot academically, i was just REALLY coming into my own as a woman. but the older i get, the more i see that having a child isn't "the end" of me...i just need to plan better.


  4. sista gp Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215059880000#c4900401609044268033'> Wednesday, July 02, 2008 9:38:00 PM

    I did not understand this saying until I lived it.
    "After a child is born, the mother will forget all feelings of discomfort, pain and anguish of the pregnancy, labor and delivery."

    I remember it like watching a movie, but not the feelings. I guess if women did recall the intensity of the pain, everyone would be an only child.


  5. Christina Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215302940000#c6712081083553152434'> Saturday, July 05, 2008 5:09:00 PM

    Being a parent is not an easy thing, especially when you want to raise your child right. My kids are such a blessing to me. When they were really little it was easy to get run down and feel exhausted just trying to get some me time in. It did get easier though. The best thing in the world is teaching my children to be self sufficient.

    There are days where I worry about them and then I realize it's not so much them I worry about, it's other peoples children I worry about. Sad, but I'm speaking from the heart.

    We keep God first in our household and that has helped tremendously in raising a teenager.

    I had my son when I was 27 and although I wanted him, was by no means ready. You know what though? You're never ready! LOL When God blesses you with a child, embrace it!

    Am I happy? Yep, sure am! I'm not going to lie, for a long time I doubted our choice to have a family in this crazy ass world. When we don't always have what we need, that can be a challenge but, we always make it through. What don't kill us, really does make us stronger.

    I don't regret it, my children have made us into better people, I hope they can say the same about their parents one day.

    I love seeing their impression of the world through their eyes.

    There are days when I know God created them just for us and that makes my heart skip a beat.

    :) Kiss munchkin for me.


  6. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215476100000#c4692458398543050769'> Monday, July 07, 2008 5:15:00 PM

    Hey there! {waves}

    This is a good discussion!

    Children are NOT the key to happiness but they can happiness to a person's life and home... they can also become a source of sorrow if they are unwanted and unplanned.

    I said "unwanted AND unplanned" because all unplanned children are not unwanted....

    I have talked to women who resented their children because they got pregnant in order to keep a man who abandoned them. There are many men who feel that they are "stuck" with having to deal with a baby momma that they didn't have any emotional attachment to because they got her pregnant.

    These types of situations are, perhaps, the ones that produce unhappiness for parents.

    Childless adults tend to have more flexibility to pursue their interests since they do not have to consider the needs of another person who is depending on them (if they are not married).

    I agree with Torrance that if a person is not happy within himself or within herself then a spouse or a child will not change that.

    Thanks this conversation!

    Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!


  7. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215490140000#c7466301327506342742'> Monday, July 07, 2008 9:09:00 PM

    Xtina: you know i know you love them kids! lol. thank you for also injecting the issue of being afraid for our children because of the world. sometimes this issue is not spoken about, or looked upon as being a mark of a paranoid parent. i think you're doing a GREAT job! just remember to leave Fredo alone tho! lol

    Lisa: thank you for adding to the conversation. i agree, sadly there are children that are unplanned and unwanted. i wish, as a community, we focused more on teaching our youth to focus on themselves and becoming WHOLE adults before getting caught up in grown up things (i.e. sex). i think if we did that, we'd have less UNWANTED kids and more well-rounded ones.


  8. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/are-you-happy-now.html?showComment=1215807240000#c7420830364624948336'> Friday, July 11, 2008 1:14:00 PM

    My son's father makes me 50% more unhappy than I would be without him. It's not the kids, it's the baggage that comes with them...

    Although, jetting off to the Bahamas once in a while might help.