Do Babies Ruin Your Life?

do babies ruin your lifeBefore the ink could dry on New York magazine's cover story, "I Love My Children. I Hate My Life," the fevered responses have been all over the blogosphere.

Two of my favorite articles present two very different objections to the piece that claims that having children really ruins your life, except for those moments when your heart is so filled up it could burst.


On Salon's Broadsheet we have "Joyless Parents: You're Doing It Wrong" by Gwynne Watkins where Watkins challenges the assertion that babies are the end game and we must DO EVERYTHING JUST RIGHT in order to win that game. In other words, Watkins suggests you should enjoy the ride because there will be no ticker tape parade once you've achieved parental greatness. Which actually does not even exist.

Attacking the assumption in the article that everyone "should" have children, or at least be bummed out because they can't or don't, Brett Berk asks a completely different question in Vanity Fair's "Why Have Kids?" After all, you have explanations for everything from home decor to adopting a stray dog, why do people never have an answer when you ask them why they want kids?

“I always wanted one” wouldn’t cut it as a rationale for buying an expensive purse, and “My instincts told me to” won’t even get you out of a traffic ticket, so why are these good enough for creating a new human life?

Both Watkins and Berk touch on the solution to this admittedly upper-class problem. One I've also recently discovered that allows me to focus on the thrill of being a parent without (constantly) getting down about the drudgery: perspective.

I fully admit to being an overwhelmed parent after my first baby was born. I mourned the loss of my footloose and fancy-free single life. I missed sleeping in on a Saturday, rolling out of bed only to join my friends at a boozy brunch. I recently left New York City, the place I truly felt at home, because my family needed a different quality of life that we could no longer afford as members of the creative class with two babies and a dog.

I wallowed in that for awhile, until I realized my baby was almost a toddler and my first baby was inching up into school age. This time, the busy time, the time of drudgery, goes by so fast.

Instead of being miserable in the present and looking back lovingly in retrospect (as the New York article suggests we do), I would much rather wallow in the amazingness of my luck, which includes living with the best husband and partner in the world and two beautiful, funny, happy kids. If that can't make me happy, well, I've got bigger problems than whether or not I can stay awake for the headliner at Irving Plaza.

Do you think babies ruin your life?


Image via New York

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