I saw a piece on the news a few days ago that argued that people without children have more stress in their lives than parents.
I sat there gaping.
I don't know about you, but my life was much simpler before I was a parent. I am not saying that I was happier, but my stress level was ridiculously lower than it is now.
The argument given was that when you have a child, you learn not to sweat the small stuff and to relax more.
So..I guess my question to you is this: If you are a parent, do you believe that your stress level is less? If you are a non parent, do you believe that you have more stress than you would have if you had children?
I just don't get it. When I was childless, I didn't worry about not having money. I wasn't wondering how I was going to put a child through college.
I bought LOTS more clothes than I do now. Now, I buy for Liv first and I get the leftovers. If this means not buying that leather jacket, I don't buy it. While this isn't tremendously stressful, it is frustrating.
I have to be a fucking role model 24/7. This means that even if I WANT a hot fudge sundae, I don't make one because 1) I will have to share it or duplicate one for Liv and 2) She doesn't need sugar at 8 p.m. at night and frankly, neither do I. I also have to refrain from road rage, learn the art of patience and be a good sport far more often than I prefer to be.
Time. I have so much less of it now that I have a child. I find myself jonesin for my David Sedaris book but I need to help Liv with her school report on South Dakota, so I am sitting next to her at the computer looking up Crazy Horse and The Battle of Litle Big Horn instead of sprawling on the sofa and reading my book.
My view of the world is different. Now, I look at things differently. I read accounts of child kidnappings and feel as if someone has put a knife in my heart. I used to feel a little sad and scared at these stories, now I am horrified beyond words. I read the articles with a golf ball lodged in my throat, aching for the child's parents and wondering how in the hell they manage not to throw themselves off of a cliff in their grief. If something like that happened to Liv, I would need a straitjacket.
I am totally responsible for another person now. This means that EVERY single decision I make has to take my child into consideration. My life reverberates all over hers. And vice versa.
I have a very limited social life. Weekends no longer mean sleeping in and going to a bar or even to a movie or a play without planning it weeks in advance and knowing that everything is tentative. If Liv sports a cough or a fever or the babysitter does, all outings are canceled.
I look back on my pre-parent days and wonder what in the hell I did with all that free time?
I have more stress with a child, that is for certain.
I also have more joy. I am happier because of Liv, but am I less stressed? No. Absolutely not.