Life with Ladybug: Do kids make you (un)happier?

By Shannon Magsam

new-york-mag.gifnew-york-mag.jpgAt the library the other day, I was looking for an article in Time Magaine about only children (since I’ve got one, I’m always drawn to conversations on the topic) when the headline splashed across another magazine cover caught my eye.

It said: “I love my children. I hate my life”.

You can see why I was intrigued. The story focuses on how parents’ “happy” quotient isn’t necessarily raised after they have kids. That they are, in fact, less happy than their non-parent counterparts.

Some of you may have seen the article’s author on the Today show recently. I read the article in New York Magazine first, then, when I mentioned it to my husband over the weekend, he asked if I’d seen author Jennifer Senior on the show. Since I hadn’t, I went to find the interview online.

But the comments on the Today show’s website were the most interesting find. So many of the commenters had chosen not to have kids or wished they hadn’t.

I can sympathize with those who may not have found parenting to be the most satisfying experience. But I can’t quite comprehend it. Admittedly, motherhood came at the exact right time in my life. It wasn’t a surprise pregnancy  (we were very much “trying”), I was married to a man I adore and I had some maturity under my belt. And I had mostly realistic expectations.

Of course, nothing can prepare you for the whirlwind that is parenthood. Your kids might not have the personality you expected, health concerns you never could have anticipated, temper tantrums from Hades. But nothing can prepare you for the joy, either. You can imagine what it will feel like to have tiny little arms wrap around you and squeeze tight, but the reality is much, much better.

On the other hand, the “lows” can be low-lier than you can imagine, too.

But, all told, I can definitely say my life is better, happier, fuller than before I had a child. I think the important things that have made it more positive than negative are: having good friends around me who weren’t afraid to discuss heavy issues;  having a husband who shared with me the feeling of ‘we’re in this together’; having done many of the things I wanted to do before the responsibility of a child eliminated certain life choices; and being able to continue my work while simultaneously staying home with my daughter.

I don’t mean to simplify things. Parenting is amazing, scary, tiring, fun, perplexing, defeating, uplifting, unselfish. And that only scratches the surface. But I can say without hesitation that I’m definitely happier.

Are you?


  1. wow – interesting subject, and one that probably hasn’t been talked about before because it wasn’t acceptable to voice that sentiment, don’t you think? How many women self-medicated in the 50s, 60s, 70s… and now those kids are raising their own kids and giving them more than necessary in order to be “better parents” than they had… it’s always been there, I’m sure.

    I don’t feel I am unhappier as a parent than I would have been single. I think I would have had an interesting and fulfilling life either way. I would have traveled more, been on stage more, would have more time to write… maybe that would have been more “fun” than some of the times I’ve endured as a parent. But my motherhood has made me a more grounded and responsible human being. And I hope the relationship I have with my children is as close and special as we get older as the one I had with my mom. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laurie,

    You certainly make some good points. I especially like the one about being a more responsible human being. It’s amazing how much I’ve evolved as a woman since becoming someone’s mama. I believe for the better 🙂


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