There’s been a lot of chatter amongst parents about New York Magazine’s recent cover story, “I love my children. I hate my life.” It was certainly a shock when I saw it on the news stands, and though I rarely purchase print magazines anymore, I bought this one. Numerous studies show that parents are less happy than non-parents. OK, got it. But why? Why are parents so chronically unhappy? Personally, I think it has a lot to do with expectations and new mom guilt. Before we have children, we often dream of having them. We name them in romantic moments with our partners before they’re even conceived, and those of us who struggle with fertility romanticize parenthood even more. We don’t exactly know what we’re getting into when we have children; how it’s going to affect our lives, how we will manage the sleep deprivation, roller-coaster hormones, work/family/self balance, how we’ll deal with the guilt when we have to go back to work (compounded if we actually enjoy working!). So I would like to post a challenge to all expectant parents: Think about your expectations of parenthood, and ask yourself why you want children. What do YOU expect while you’re expecting? How will you maintain your happiness and liberate yourself from feelings of guilt for not loving new parenthood every moment of every day?
Being a new parent is hard, more difficult than most people will tell you, but if you manage your expectations, and prioritize yourself even a little bit after you have a baby, you will have a better chance at being a happy parent!