I guess that’s a wrap. Can’t argue with science, folks.
we do, of course. Now the other side of the fence is yelling back via blog
posts, hurling their own studies and scientific proof to show that yes, parents
are happy. More research, more
studies, more headlines.
Yet, no one is talking about the real meat of this issue: Why are we asking science
(and perhaps to a greater extent, asking Google) to predict our happiness? Do
we not understand happiness?
the fact that these scientific studies are mostly concluded from polls and
other rate-your-life-satisfaction questions, “happiness” can’t be quantifiably
measured. Even controlling for several variables (which, of course,
science!), how do you measure a state of mind? Isn’t happiness, by its very
Anyone looking to derive a static stream of happiness on a daily basis is living in a fantasy world.
is looking for the good when it’s easier to wallow in everything that’s going
is a deliberate choice.
is individual and personal. And, more than anything, happiness is completely
subjective. If people are looking at happiness as something tangible and
achievable or looking for it under job titles and over a certain
income threshold, then they’re missing the mark. Anyone looking to derive a
static stream of happiness on a daily basis is living in a fantasy world.
being said, there are some seriously crummy parts of taking care of little
humans. Just last month, my 4-year-old son vomited into my outstretched hands
as I gagged back my own stomach virus. And every time I hand over a
mortgage-size payment to my son’s preschool, I don’t think, “HAPPINESS!”
perhaps it comes down to semantics. What if you substituted a different word
for “happiness”? What about meaning and purpose? What about growth? What about
raw human experience?
the thing about taking multilayered experiences—like parenthood—and
holding it up to scientific scrutiny: Scientific studies, by their very nature,
are black and white. And yet we all experience shades of stormy gray,
regardless of lifestyle choice and attitude.
To expect anything different is pure delusion. I’ll
even go one step further: To want
anything different is absurd. Because this—the turbulent highs and lows, the
dark moments that give way to clarity, the utter vulnerability of love and loss
and sacrifice—this is life. This is the human experience.
That’s not to say you can’t live the human
experience outside of parenthood. Raising children certainly sucks a large
portion of time and money that could be used for creative expression, social
good, mind-expanding travel, etc.
But don’t pretend like consistent happiness is the