I didn’t have kids to make me “happy” (Thank God!)

A fun little piece of obvious news crossed my radar today: couples without kids report that they’re happier with their relationships than couples with kids! 

To that I say:

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OF COURSE THEY ARE. You know who’s happy? People who get a full night’s sleep most nights. People who can eat a meal without getting up approximately 9 times to fetch things for people who fling food at them, spit out mouthfuls of fully chewed food for no reason, smear food in their hair, and inexplicably like/hate pineapple from one day to the next. People who can just go out of town for a weekend trip. People who regularly get to go to the movies. People who don’t have to schedule sexy times. People who don’t have to wipe any butts but their own. Let’s be real.

The good news is: the ultimate goal of my life isn’t “be happy.” And my ultimate hopes for my kids aren’t “as long as they’re happy.” Happy is fleeting, and happy is an illusion, and happy just isn’t a realistic goal for much of anything. 

Here’s what I want: I want to be satisfied. I want to be challenged. I want to be grateful. I want to be loved. I want to love. I want relationships. I want to have a legacy. I want to make an impact.

All of those things are much more realistic goals for a life, a marriage, parenthood. 

Thank God I didn’t/don’t expect my kids to make me happy. That’s far too much of a burden to place on another person. I do think they’ve already made me a better person, though, and I’ll take that.

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15 thoughts on “I didn’t have kids to make me “happy” (Thank God!)

  1. Many people confuse happiness with joy. Joy isn’t based on circumstances or the moment at hand. I’m glad that having kids isn’t the only way to find purpose in life, too or I’d be sh*t outta luck.

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    • Emma: there’s a lot of happiness in my relationships with my kids. They bring me great joy. But it’s just a fact that they strain my relationship with my spouse. They definitely haven’t made my marriage happier, but they have made it closer, which I think is more important. I’m more in love with my husband seeing him be a father to our kids, even as we fight/get tired of each other/get frustrated with each other far more than we did pre-kids, when we literally never fought in 6 years.

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  2. I appreciate this insight, but feel that people like me – those who just don’t like kids and don’t want to deal with them, ever – get a bad rep. (I apologize in advance for making this post about me, and you can dismiss it as such.) It’s problematic to think that everyone wants kids in order to feel fulfilled or a sense of purpose. Some of us get that from other sources.

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  3. “People who get a full night’s sleep most nights. People who can eat a meal without getting up approximately 9 times to fetch things for people who fling food at them, spit out mouthfuls of fully chewed food for no reason, smear food in their hair, and inexplicably like/hate pineapple from one day to the next. People who can just go out of town for a weekend trip. People who regularly get to go to the movies. People who don’t have to schedule sexy times. People who don’t have to wipe any butts but their own. ” Man! That sounds like a real rant. Clearly, it is better to not have kids and regret it than to have kids and regret it/them.

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    • One more reply to Joan, even though I don’t have to and probably shouldn’t: the entire point of this post, about not expecting children, or anyone with whom you are in a relationship, to “make you happy,” is that the key to NOT regretting/resenting someone is to have realistic expectations for your relationship with him/her. By not expecting my kids to make me happy all the time, by acknowledging the less-than-fun sides of our relationship so I can deal with it and move on, by realizing that the point of life isn’t happiness, I am released to find joy and intimacy and connection, all of which I find deeply satisfying. Yeah, I rant sometimes. Who hasn’t ranted, even about jobs or spouses that they love? But my whole life is a love letter.

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