About seven years ago, my husband and I decided to go into a business venture together. The stakes were pretty high: We knew that it was a long-term investment and that we would be working crazy hours. We knew that we would not receive any financial gain from it and that once we entered it, there was no backing out. We were signing up for sleepless nights, an increase in marital strain and depression, and potential health risks.
And yet, knowing all that, we decided we wanted to be parents anyway.
There have been multiple studies showing that non-parents are happier overall than parents. (There should also be studies showing that non-parents are saner than parents, too, but maybe that is too obvious to get research money to do.) When you sign up for parenthood, you are signing up for a world of the unknown. Because, even if you think you know what parenthood will be like, there will be lots of moments that you can never ever prepare for. Like all the conversations around poop. Or the time you had to tell your child not to try and raise the toilet seat with their head. Or whatever.
Parent unhappiness isn't true of every country, however. There are lots of countries outside the U.S. that sport much higher levels of parental happiness. Crunching through the data isn't easy to pinpoint why, but one researcher believes that it has to do with a lack of subsidized care for the under-five set and not enough vacation time for Mom and Dad.
I would agree with that, but there are probably other factors as well, like the pressure we put on ourselves for parental perfection. That definitely needs to lighten up as well. And maybe we need to have more honest conversations with soon-to-be-parents about what you can expect after you bring the baby home.
Because being a parent is too important of a job in life. It's one that we all need some help in so that we don't fail.
What did you wish you knew about parenthood before you had your child? Tell me in the comments.