Just quickly went through this article that talks about how your level of happiness increases after having your own kid or kids. The article also refers to a survey that established that people are less happy after having kids.
Whether having kids makes you happy or not depends on lots of factors. It depends on your economic condition, your health, relationship between spouses, the aspirations of both the parents, facilities available in the area, and the support system the couple has. Having a child can totally turn your life upside down. Recently we saw a movie “Marlie and Me” and somewhere the character of Jenifer Anniston says, “Parenting is the toughest job in the world and nobody prepares you for it.”
Clichéd as it may sound, as a couple who have had a baby who, despite being exceptionally intelligent and talented, has some issues when it comes to eating, sleeping and paying attention to things that can make life a bit easier, we could totally relate to the statement. Since Vasudha’s birth we have totally been on our own, as neither my family nor Alka‘s (my wife) family was in a position to be around in case we needed some respite. She’s going to be 5 this July, and not even a single day, or even a few hours she’s spent without us. So for the past 5 years our lives have pretty much revolved around her.
Although I work from home, due to my cerebral palsy, beyond a certain level I cannot help Alka much, especially when Vasudha goes through periodic disturbed sleeping patterns and Alka ends up getting just 2-3-hour sleep for weeks. Sometimes Vasudha used to wake up just when Alka had fallen asleep. And it’s not just sleep. She doesn’t like to eat food but every other thing that can be chewed. She won’t write sometimes even a single alphabet or number without extensive prompting. When she’s not at school we cannot have a single sentence without her interference — spending even 5 minutes together ends up in something disastrous sometimes. She takes minimum one-and-half hour to have a meal. Getting her to fall asleep at night becomes an hour-long or even more project. Whatever you tell her to do the standard reply is “no”.
In India most couples who can afford, have a maid, but unfortunately, our experience with different maids has been quite disturbing. In India most couples occasionally have parental support which, as I mentioned above, has been missing from both our sides. I was living at my parents house when I got married but we had to move to a new place when Vasudha was just 3 months old.
In the building where we live, almost all the couples every second month call their mothers so that they can tend to other things while there is somebody with the child or children. People even go on holidays leaving their kids behind with a relative! The parents of one of our neighbors totally shifted here so that they could keep the kid while his mother went to office. There is nobody with whom we can leave our child for even 3 hours and go somewhere.
Actually it’s very difficult to relate unless you yourself go through a similar situation. The point is, if you try to attach a halo to the experience of having a child and bringing him or her up, I’m going to hit you with my crutch.
Again, as I mentioned above, it depends on your social-economic coordinates. Had we had the support many people take for granted (NRI couples make their parents visit them from India when they have a kid) may be I would have been writing a different experience.
Am I complaining? No, I’m just stating the facts and it doesn’t mean we haven’t had our share of happiness with our child. It’s not her problem that we have had a tough time. In fact, despite all the difficulties we’ve gone through, she’s the best thing that has happened to us, and I’m not saying this just for the sake of saying. She gives us a direction, a purpose. We know that with her around, the only option we have is keep on fighting and moving ahead. And it’s not just a litany of troubles. We have great times together. When she softly touches my face with her small hands or her cheek, the world stops and there remains no other desire. When she is lying by my side, ready to fall asleep, if I want to define heavenly bliss, that’s the time to define it with. We swell with pride when she effortlessly sings songs during school functions and parents and teachers are amazed at her talent. A mere sight of hers lights up the surroundings. She makes our world, our togetherness complete, and we wouldn’t have been us without her. She was our conscious decision, it was just that, we were ill-prepared. As she’s growing up, we’re able to communicate more and things are easing up a bit.
There, I was just going to write a small paragraph on the above-mentioned link. Having children and bringing them up and the related feelings depend on lots of factors, but yes, if you ask me if we ever regretted having a child, definitely not. It doesn’t make sense, but I guess this is how nature makes us. It’s kind of a sadistic pleasure you can say. Right in the midst of a highly chaotic day we do have that WTF feeling but that doesn’t last for long. The above-mentioned article ends quite aptly:
You will lose the freedom to go out on Friday and Saturday night, without a care in the world. You will lose freedom, period. You damn sure will lose sleep. But once that child is here, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him. You will know contentment at a level beyond your imagination.