Saturday, May 9, 2009

Changing a Diaper Is Not Fun

For some time I've been coming across reports and studies stating that having children actually lessens an individuals happiness. That, on the whole, people without children are happier. Could it be true? Is this possible?

I'll have to ask all those childless people in Japan in thirty years, when their tax base has collapsed and there's no one about to pick up the trash or mend the roads.

Demographics aside, I find the results of these studies to be quite disturbing. One of the key elements cited in these studies relates to how some of the tasks of parenthood are such drudgery, so very boring and anti-intellectual, that they can only deaden the soul, and leave an individual despairing to be rid of this seemingly unending task. That chore? Changing diapers.

Why this is disturbing to me is that it proves, or at least suggests that I must be abnormal. Why? Because my kids and I have a ball changing diapers.

Can others be happy changing diapers? I guess it depends. Perhaps if you saw it as a chore, as a necessary activity that you have to engage in which distracts you from your real life, that is, the things you would rather be doing but can not because the kids keep distracting you, then no. But then again, if you really did feel that way, then I would venture to say that you aren't a parent at all, but a co-habitant, living in the same space as other human beings, but otherwise unconnected to them as much as is possible.

You can not quantify happiness, you can only qualify it. As with anything that lay within the experiential realm, what "it" is can only be known by individuals engaged in the experience, a knowledge that, while we do try to communicate to others, more often than not is almost entirely visceral and ineffable.

Which is why when it comes to communication between dedicated parents and dedicated non-parents, "never-the-twain-shall-meet" is perhaps the only operative phrase.

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