There was a running joke in my family for years. You see, my parents didn’t get along well with their parents, and the acrimonious relationship led to some rather awful comments over the years. Now, I’m not entirely sure what the context was or even whose parents said it, but all I know is that at some point my parents were arguing that they just wanted to do something and be happy together, to which one of their fathers said, “Happy? Who’s happy? You think your mother’s happy?”
It’s one of those awful quotes that made us laugh for far too many years as we wondered how anyone could be so blatantly and proudly unhappy. It’s been a joke we whip out whenever one of us is saying how something might make us unhappy, or how all we want is to be happy about something.
Recently, a bunch of sadistic Germans put out some research. Okay, that might be a total lie, I have no idea if they’re sadistic, but they did put out some research into couples who have kids and the happiness index that follows. Apparently, having kids is worse for your happiness than unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner. Um, great. Should I be worried?
The thing is, the research only focuses on the first year following a child’s birth. That’s the time when I’m planning on it being ridiculously hard, basically consumed with caring for a totally helpless creature who can’t even smile at me yet. I do sort of believe people when they say that it gets better, way way better, that it makes them so happy and all of that.
It does make me a bit worried, of course. I wonder about what is to come, and how it will test the strength of my marriage, my friendships, my family. I wonder about all the fights that will come, the frustrations, the sleep deprivation and the worries. But then I imagine the amazing love that I have just for my cats, how incredible it is to curl up with them and get the best cuddles, and I imagine that multiplied by something unimaginable. It seems like it could be a fair trade off.
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