WARNING: THIS IS A RANT
This morning several of my friends posted this gem of an article about how much it absolutely and completely sucks to have a child. How it is worse than both divorce AND the death of a romantic partner.
Well, people, let's talk about science.
First, the Washington Post is likely a reputable source for news. And someone sort of, kind of, did some research here.
I fundamentally disagree.
And I say this on some authority, as I work with new parents on a daily basis and have for several years now.
The yogis try (and try again) to teach us that nothing outside of us will make us happy. As in, if you are sad, a new baby will not make you happy. A divorce will not make you happy. And only in limited circumstances will the death of your partner make you happy. In those cases you'll have to move to one of the handful of countries that does not extradite to the US, and I'm pretty sure the happiness index of those countries is particularly poor (particularly for women).
A puppy will not make you happy. A new car, new job, the right soap, the right boobs, these things will not make you happy.
The opportunity to give love does increase happiness over time, particularly when that love is reciprocated. I do not need a study or the WP to show me that, and neither do you. How do I know? People have children, and continue to have children. They adopt children. They plow through years of fertility BS to have children. They adopt puppies and iguanas and teacup pigs. People love this shit.
People love overcoming stress. That's why we fell in love with Forrest Gump and why triumphing over insane distance sports makes us feel all warm and squishy (for a time). Having a baby is stressful, because you don't get to decide when it eats and sleeps or what it's personality or temperament are. But unless you are one heck of a dill-hole, you will overcome. Even with little to no education and training. This is biology. This is science! Everyone everywhere has children, and it's not because the conservative a-holes have blinded us to the usefulness and availability of contraceptives. It is our biological imperative and it is infinitely better than divorce and death and possibly moving to Pakistan.
And I get it. Having children is hard. They need lots of things, and the ROI is sometimes nonexistent. I'm not for one instant saying that it is easy or that you don't need a whole heaping helping of help and various moderately-controlled substances to smooth the ride. I've stepped in on many occasions when someone called and said they needed a break because they were going to throw their baby at a wall.
And I've seen those same parents get help, triumph, have more children, and figure it out.
You can, too. Your children won't be the lawyer/doctor/architects that you hoped they would be. They might get cut from the soccer team, or they might be gay or Republican. They might hop and skip from faith tradition to faith tradition or college to college. They will likely break things and need therapy for any number of things you did or didn't do or tried to do correctly.
They will very likely endure and go on to have children of their own. And even if they don't love you every day or every week or every year, they will love you more and make you happier than homicide and divorce.
To say anything else is bending data to blow wind in your sails.
And smoke up your ass.
So enjoy your children. And bitch about the hard things. Notice when your expectations hit the bottom of the sea and realize that the problem isn't that your kiddo didn't master the flute, but that you thought she should. Your expectation that parenthood would be the "best thing ever" is bound to fail. The problem isn't in the first child, it's a practice in releasing expectations.
The score card goes like this:
1. Do you have a child?
2. Are they alive?
3. Are they healthy?
4. Are you healthy?
THEN YOU WIN.