My firstborn David turned 13 yesterday (here we are at a recent Duke basketball game).
David’s birthdays always make me more reflective than the others as David’s birthdays are also a milestone of my own life as a parent. Short version, my kids absolutely drive me crazy lots of the time. Sarah aside, they are not all an easy bunch. And Sarah certainly acts like an almost two-year old plenty of the time. David can be exasperatingly immature at times. Alex sure has his own issues. The fact that they are not at all is fault doesn’t really help when he’s throwing Ipads off the deck. And damn can Evan whine like nobody’s business. But, being a parent is so amazingly awesome and fulfilling that I cannot even put it into words. You know how much I love being a Political Science professor (and love it dearly I do), but when I think about what defines me, dad to my kids is #1.
I was talking with a friend at lunch today about just how awesome parenthood is and how it seems hard to square with the social science that seems to show that having kids leads to less overall happiness. Either we’re both total outliers or something is just missing in those studies. (His theory: they are measuring a superficial level of happiness that cannot really capture what parenthood brings). Of course, it’s also possible we’re underestimating how happy we’d be without kids. Though, we do have before and after within subjects comparisons. I do also think there’s something to this study I wrote about a while ago that the key measure is satisfaction, not happiness (or that the key may be whether you are a married and intended parent).
And, okay, I do accept that it’s not for everyone, but wow, am I a big proponent of parenthood (at least within a stable, preferably married relationship). Far and away the most awesome thing in my life and something I’m grateful for even on the days when I’m cleaning up vomit and calling in my Ipad warranty. (And in the event she’s reading this– it certainly helps to have the right partner for this crazy adventure).
Oh, and lastly. I was telling David yesterday about how in many cultures one is officially a “man” at 13 and how if we were Jewish he’d be having a Bar Mitzvah. Reminded me of a classic Seinfeld moment: