In my Marriage and Family class the other day, a group of students were giving their assigned presentation on the debate of whether people are happier if they have kids or if they don’t. The article they were assigned is a pretty interesting one, and the debate is always a fun one for the class to tackle, especially at he end of the semester, when they are all fried mentally. Spoiler alert – the debate is a worthless one at least in this case, because the articles compare the happiness of having kids with the marital satisfaction of not having them. Apples and Oranges statistically speaking. But a fun debate nonetheless. But it did get me thinking…
When I get over stressed, I think back to my first condo. A little cracker box 660 square feet 2 bedroom, one bathroom, sweet little home. I loved that little condo. It was all mine. It was silent when I wanted silence. Louder when I wanted louder. It was all mine. Life now is crazy insane. Nothing is all mine. Silence is rare.
And that got me thinking about my mornings. In the past, in that little condo, or after D and I got married, morning were so calm and relaxing. he would leave for work early, I would kiss him goodby, wave at the window and then relax on the sofa. I would watch a little tv and stitch and then leisurely get ready for work. It was such a nice, relaxing way to start the day. And it always gave me enough time to get ready and get to work by 8:30am.
Cut to this morning. I got up at 5, showered and ran downstairs to throw laundry in (best invention ever – timer on the washing machine!) and mix up the scrambled eggs. Run back up as the twins were waking up and get them them out of cribs, cuddled, read a book, diapers, etc. Emily got up and I got the three of them dressed. Sidney laughed and played through this process, Spencer revolted and spent the entire time turning onto his tummy. Diaper changes on that boy when he is not in the mood qualify as an Olympic sport. Hair, teeth, etc and get the kids downstairs. Scrambled the prepared eggs, make the smoothie (today’s smoothie was strawberry, carrot, kale, orange, kiwi and flax seeds) and get them eating. While my back was turned they all somehow ended up under the table. kids refused the eggs but inhaled the smoothie. I took a bit of eggs and they tackled each other to take the eggs they thought were mine. Eggs eaten, smoothie, drunk, I start cleaning up breakfast. Oops, Spencer’s elbow, smoothie hits the floor. This is the second morning in a row with smoothie on the floor. By 7:15 we are getting ready to leave. Sidney tries to put on her jacket herself, and gets about halfway there. I finish and she loses her mind. She was screaming and trying to tear off the jacket. hey, that looks like fun, Spencer joins in.
My past and my present. I stood back and watched the kids, under the table, laughing as they stole my eggs (hee hee, trickery 🙂 ), screaming at the injustice of wearing a jacket on this balmy 40 degree day (grrr…). Are people without kids happier? Are they calmer? Those mornings, sitting on the sofa, more often than not wrapped in a blanket, stitching with some tea are gone. I will never get them back. And by the time I do, I doubt my eyesight will be good enough to stitch, at least the way I used to (fellow stitchers, i was doing 1 over 1 on 28 count!).
Is the grass greener over there? Are they happier than I am? I get jealous of my cousin who gets to live alone. And I get jealous of my married friends with no kids. But then one of them hugs me and I forget why I was jealous in the first place. Last night, as she was going to sleep, Emily said, “Wait mommy, I forgot to tell you three things 9and she counted on her fingers), I love you, you are my best friend and you are so beautiful”. Wow, just wow.
So I gave up the glorious, quiet, peaceful, relaxing mornings. And now I have insanity and craziness.
And I have playtime with crazy, funny, gorgeous kids
Because, yes, they can get loud. Yes, Spencer is going to break something significant during a diaper change. yes, they knock smoothies onto the floor. Yes, they make bath time unbearable. But the laughter, the giggles, make it better. In this picture of Spencer in Sidney’s chair he is about to grab Emily’s socks. Sidney was laughing over her ability to take pictures of me, dropped the camera, jumped up on her (well, on Emily’s chair) and yelled cheeese! It was a funny, funny playtime.
Because yes, Spencer poured 2 vials of bubbles out, only the driveway, garage and into the toy car (which, by the way, I simply put away. I need to rinse off/wipe down eventually…) but then Emily blew bubbles for her brother and sister. And Sidney rearranged the toys. And we all laughed.
So those people without kids might have it better. I remember cooking a late dinner and relaxing with D over dinner. Sitting outside in the spring and summer evening with a book and a glass of wine or a cup of tea while waiting for him to get home. Impromptu movies. Plane rides. And I miss all that. But I think this is better.
But back to the group presentation. They asked the class to describe what they thought a parent was. every single group has asked this. it is getting tiring for me. No one in the class is a parent, this is not a question they can answer. And then they asked me what I thought a parent was. And I told them about the night before, when Emily came into our bed. And Spencer crying because I was going to work (but when I peeked in the window at day care on my way out, he was laughing, whew). And about how someone else is teaching them 1, 2, 3 this week, because I am at work. At that moment, to me, a parent was about hugs, and cuddles, and sacrifices. And I thought about who was happier. Childless me or mommy me. Mommy me wins, hands down. Childless me never got to laugh and giggle with her own kids. Childless me never got to explore woods, trees, snowbanks, bread dough, sewing projects, gardening etc the way mommy me does. Childless me may have had more fun with D, just the 2 of us, but I think he would agree that mommy me and daddy him have more fun with our kids, and we treasure our adult alone time more.
By the way, the group got an A for their presentation.
I have not abandoned our White House series, think of this as a commercial.