Friday, July 16, 2010

No Fun But Very Rewarding

So I realized in my last post that I got so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I forgot to really respond to the original New York magazine article that started it all. Later on in the article, author Jennifer Senior is discussing the research that has been proving that, although parents say they have children because it will make them happier, parents are actually less happy than non-parental adults.

However, Senior makes a distinction between "happy" and "rewarding." She points out that, in one of the unhappy parent surveys, it was "measuring moment-to-moment happiness. It was a feeling, a mood, a state."And likewise, another study in England was looking at "happiness" in terms of mood; Senior deadpans, "As a matter of mood, there does seem to be little question that kids make our lives more stressful."

Senior argues the trials of parenting may take away from immediate happiness, but "when studies take into consideration how rewarding parenting is, the outcomes tend to be different." It seems to me that she's suggesting, although everyone wants to be happy AND rewarded, that may not always be possible. At least for parents, we're forsaking our short-term happiness for the long-term goal of a rewarded, fulfilled life.

That makes sense to me. Not that I'm never happy right now ..... it's just that I don't have much say in the matter. With little ones, not only is their autonomy not existent yet, but our autonomy as parents is a thing of the past. No more deciding when to get out of bed, what to do for the day, choosing fun or work activities and sticking to it. The child is completely reliant on us, and completely rules our world.

I'm going to keep working on doing a better job of being in the moment. Choosing to be happy that my chaotic life is ruled by a toddler I fondly refer to as "The Little Dictator." (Which was apparently a term used on a Gilligan's Island episode; who knew?)

I understand that parenting can mean choosing life-long rewarding over immediate happiness. But I want a bit of both, and I think I can have it, too!

1 comment:

Amy said...

This has nothing to do with parenting or happiness, but I thought you'd like to know that Cathy and I are locked in a battle of Seinfeld trivia, and she's winning.

I was at the dollar store the other week and came across a Seinfeld trivia card game. So, break time is the Seinfeld Aptitude Test all over again, but (so far) without the bell to ring in, or a handy intern to host the proceedings.