A recent study came out that said couples without kids are happier than couples with kids. Immediately, moms huffily rolled their eyes, hugged their kids tighter, and claimed that could not possibly be true. Kids make EVERYTHING better, dontcha know?!
To this I say… are you crazy? Of course childless couples are happier! I coulda told you that without conducting a fancy study.
Now, before all the mothers out there line up to take my child that I clearly don’t appreciate, let me explain.
Tomorrow is Saturday, and Rachel Before Kids would be planning on sleeping in until at least noon, and then lay around in bed for another hour doing absolutely nothing on her smart phone. Lazily, she would drag herself out of bed, make herself a bowl of cereal, plop down on the couch and jump in on the movie her husband would be in the middle of watching. They’d then watch some trash television, debate about getting dressed and seeing a movie later, and would, most likely take a nap. Nine times out of 10, they would run to Blockbuster (wow, an era gone by), grab some Taco Bell, and head back for an evening of Bud Lights and laughing.
Did you hear anything that would make you unhappy? Sure, your morning might start a little earlier, might include a little yoga, some shopping, and ours occasionally did, too, but the point is… we were choosing it. It was our choice.
Fast forward to Rachel After Kids, and everything completely changes. The time I wake up is not chosen by me– when I hear the little squeals and jibber jabber coming through the walls, I know my alarm clock is going off. Filling her stomach always takes a priority over my own, and watching trash television is out of the question, regardless of how well they bleep over those cuss words. And, a spontaneous outing to a movie theater? You have got to be kidding! Even a quick dash to the movie rental store (if they still existed) would involve meticulous planning and take much longer, as every errand does when you add kids to the mix.
I’ve only just brushed up against the iceburg– that jerky guy on the Titanic is still wondering how soon they can get back on course and get to New York to make the morning papers.
The fact that you aren’t technically in complete control of your own life doesn’t necessarily mean that your marriage is less happier– that’s just the catalyst. It’s the chaos that comes from trying to parent, raise and survive these tiny creatures. It’s the moment where you’re changing a dirty diaper and you need your husband to start the breakfast because the baby is already screaming that its hungry and as soon as its bum is clean you need to be able to shove something in its mouth, and your husband is yelling back at you that he’s in the restroom and to give him a dang minute.
That, right there. That’s where that happiness falls a notch. Not because of any true marital problem, but because when you add those little munchkins to your life, they bring about 10 tons of stress with them, and it changes everything.
The bottom line is that couples with kids aren’t NOT happy– not at all. It’s just that their marriage has been tested more than the marriages of those without kids. And, yeah, that extra stress and worry and paranoia and financial responsibility and emotional responsibility takes a toll on it.
But, they’re happy. Believe me, they’re happy; happier than they’ve ever been in their whole life. Because they know that nothing feels as amazing as holding their newborn just seconds after the air has hit his brand new skin. Because nothing compares to the pride you feel when you witness your eight-week-old finally roll herself over for the first time, after two weeks of watching them try. Because nothing conflicts you more than watching your child take her first step, away from you and toward her own independence. Because no word has ever hit you so hard and made you cry harder than that first “mommy.” Because the tiny arms of a toddler encircling your neck and giving it a good squeeze is the best feeling in the world.
I’ll take being quantified as less happy than those without kids. No problem. Because I’ve got all of that and more, and there are not enough lazy Saturdays in the world to make me wish I’d never had kids.