Are You Happy? Are You Sure?Babble.com May 29, 2007
Ask parents if they feel sorry for their childless counterparts, and the response is almost always yes. Parents know how annoying they sound singing the praises of parenthood, but they can’t help it. “What is wrong with them?” one mother I know confesses thinking of non-parents. “How empty is your life? Why do you exist?” She’s only half-joking. What childless people suspect about self-righteous parents is true: no matter how successful you are or how happy you claim to be, they pity you.
I was never particularly dewy-eyed about parenthood. I’d au-paired for a summer, seen eight nieces and nephews from their first day at the hospital to high school. I’d spent bleary-eyed afternoons monitoring toddlers negotiating the jungle gym with the speed of sloths, and nights rocking the high-strung no-sleepers until their parents returned. I liked kids. I loved some kids deeply. But I didn’t understand the unabashed covetousness of the parental state.
But then I got pregnant, and I began to think maybe my old ambivalence was more the result of teenage antsy-ness or because the kids weren’t my own. I began to expect a torrent of nonstop pleasure. I would never be bored or annoyed or frustrated. Acquaintances warned me that I wouldn’t be able to just run out to grab a beer on a whim anymore, but that didn’t seem like a calamitous loss of freedom.