Are 'Happy Parents' Delusional?

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Look around at your house and your body and your life. If you see what I see, you see reminders of children everywhere.

There is a doll sitting next to me that my daughter didn't clean up before she went to school, scars on my stomach that have faded a lot, but I can still see, which provide memories of when my children lived there. And then of course, there is our bank account, which used to have a lot more zeros in it prior to having children. Still, I don't regret my decision to have them both for one second.

According to Time, this makes me delusional. They cite a recent study showing that parents "idealize the emotional rewards of parenting [which] helps parents to rationalize the financial costs of raising children.” Interesting. And yet, I don't think I'm delusional.

It's true, children have cost me an enormous amount of money (at least $70K so far in childcare alone and they're only 4 and 2.5). When I think about the disposable income that my husband and I would have without them, I kind of want to weep.

Then, of course, there is the marriage itself. My husband and I are unique in that our bond was strengthened through our kiddies, but that doesn't mean there is no strain. We fight a lot more about who is doing what and who should handle what. We are often at odds over something to do with our children, and very often we are strained to the max because of something that indirectly deals with them -- no time alone or less money.

Maybe on paper, it does seem like having children is a giant waste of time and money. The return on the investment is just not worth the rewards. And yet, I wouldn't have it any other way. And not because I am that sanctimommy who will bore you with platitudes about how perfect my life is and how joyful my children have made it. I think we all know that women like that are, indeed, delusional.

My reasons for wanting to have children were simple: I wanted the family I lost. When I was 16, my mother died and I wanted nothing more than to be back in a strong, loving nuclear family. My extended family is, unfortunately, not exactly what you would call warm and loving, so I craved a family of my own making. Also, I wanted to help shape a person, to be part of something greater than myself and to feel that kind of all-encompassing love.

I never expected it to be easy. But when people talk about how "hard" parenting is, it usually seems like they mean the lack of sleep and the lifestyle changes. Those are problems with babyhood. The reason long-term parenting is hard is for a whole other set of reasons I like to call the emotional gutting. It isn't easy to shape little humans, and if you think it is, you probably ARE a bit delusional.

The only people I know who have ever said how wonderful every single second of parenthood was were later found to be insane. One was stalking people online in order to say how WONDERFUL every SECOND of motherhood was and if anyone disagreed, they were clearly evil. Yeah, she counts as delusional.

But for the rest of us normal people, parenthood isn't a non-stop party, but who expects it to be? I think of life as a tapestry and children add the color. Sure you could have a fulfilling and happy life without giving birth, but for me, the regrets of not having children would have far outweighed the frustrations they bring to the table.

I may not view every second with my children as a blessing from heaven. I'm not under any delusions about the difficulties of parenting. But I don't regret my decision to have them for a second. Not everything that is worthwhile looks good on paper or comes easily. Children cost a lot, but life without them would cost me more.

Do you think you are delusional about parenthood?


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