From nowhere we came, into nowhere we go. What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.

~ Attributed to Crowfoot

Help the Captain get his spaceship!

Mithril Angel Wings

Kids (Twentysomething or otherwise)

“Martin Seligman, the positive-psychology pioneer who is, famously, not a natural optimist, has always taken the view that happiness is best defined in the ancient Greek sense: leading a productive, purposeful life. And the way we take stock of that life, in the end, isn’t by how much fun we had, but what we did with it.”  ~ Jennifer Senior

Kind of funny follow-up discussion on Slate on Robin Marantz Henig’s article about Twentysomethings. My favorites were the comments from Samantha Henig:

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot, having been privy to the whole editorial process: Robin Marantz Henig is my mother. (So watch how you talk about her!) I actually had the somewhat bizarre experience of giving her a “background” interview for the piece, during which she, in full reporter mode but still very much my mother, asked me such things as when I planned to get married and have kids. (I’m 26 now.) I, in turn, have given the same treatment to many of my friends, grilling them about whether they think they’re adults (an almost universal “no”) and when they think that will change (to which my favorite response was “when someone kills my parents and I have to avenge their death, like Batman”)

On the whole having kids question, another very interesting article in the NYT magazine that I read a while back, All Joy and No Fun, got into the intersections of children, choices, stress, happiness… The part that struck me was the idea that choice, about “whether to have kids, when, how many,” may actually leave us unhappier than if we just had kids by default early on. The article cites a 2003 meta-analysis of 97 children-and-marital-satisfaction studies that found that “parents’ dissatisfaction only grew the more money they had, even though they had the purchasing power to buy more child care.” The psychologist’s hypothesis: because “They become parents later in life. There’s a loss of freedom, a loss of autonomy. It’s totally different from going from your parents’ house to immediately having a baby. Now you know what you’re giving up.” Someone I know once said better to have them young when you haven’t a clue what you’re doing, because if you really understood what you were getting into you’d never want to.

The Cliff notes/take home version I got from the article was basically:

  1. There’s been a lot of research showing that parents are not happier than their peers without children
  2. Parents in these times are expected to work for their children (ensure they are “sculpted, stimulated, instructed, groomed”) rather than the other way around (e.g. when kids helped grow crops or run the store or whatnot)
  3. Children are stressful. Living up to the expectations that you have to raise them perfectly the “right” way is stressful.
  4. But there’s a difference between stress and despair, between “moment-to-moment happiness” and feeling connected, motivated, like you have a purpose in life, which children may bring.

It almost seemed to suggest that parents just don’t have time to be lonely or think too hard about what they’re contributing to the world, describing how they “live in a clamorous, perpetual-forward-motion machine almost all of the time.” Or maybe it’s already obvious in one respect what they’ve contributed to the world. I would love to ask parents I know what they would say looking back, especially the older generation (though I’m afraid if I started that conversation with mine they’d get the wrong idea and start hoping for grandbabies soon…!)

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