Are single childless women really the happiest? What is the definition of happy?

What is the definition of happy? Are single childless women really the happiest?

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

The most precious jewels you’ll ever have around your neck are the arms of your children. Unknown

Single women without kids are the happiest group in the world followed by married men.  I’m looking at an article by Harriet Minter and she says this is news that could only shock men.

I understand that the day to day looking after children is not liable to rate high on the happiness chart. But, the moments of intense joy one gets from our children can be had no other way.

We are told that expecting things outside of ourselves to bring us joy is the almost guaranteed way to feel disappointed. Unmet expectations make us miserable. Do no expectations make us happy?

I find it hard to believe that I would have a more happy and fulfilled life without my husband and children. This evening we will gather around the TV and watch what we hope is a winning basketball game. We will revel in laughter, togetherness, and the hope our team will end up champions.

Thinking of shared trips with our children across the country, and our daughter’s wedding less than a year ago. All of these great experiences would not have been possible without the sleepless nights of early motherhood.

Girls just want to have fun, didn’t we all dance to that song? Didn’t it ring in our hearts as part of what we wanted? Single childfree women have moments of doubt about not being married and having a family. There may be some mothers who also doubt the wisdom of their choices.

The hard work of motherhood brings the joy of grandparenthood, which childless women will never know. Holding someone’s baby is a joy, holding our own is without words, but holding our grandbabies I can’t even imagine. how that will feel.

The more we put into life the more we get out of it. Marriage and children are not for the faint of heart, it is not for those who just want fun and easy. It may not seem like joy when your day is filled with crying babies and dirty diapers. What these single childless women don’t know or don’t want to admit, is when they talk to their girlfriends who were part of their single childless club their girlfriends never want to go back to it. Yes, they miss the tidy life they had, where they could go tripping off wherever, with whomever. Yes, they might miss the candlelight dinners where men were trying to prove they were worthy of pursuit.

Some of courtship and weddings seduce us into something that if we knew the whole truth of, we might not dare to go. If we have a life with all its drama, messiness, sleep deprivation, and demands that don’t look on the outside as good as someone’s neat and tidy life it doesn’t mean it isn’t happy and fulfilling. In the stillness of our heart we know we have something worthwhile, something bigger than tidiness, and fun, something real, something of lasting value.

A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for. Anonymous

It is with a degree of sacrifice we bring the next generation into being. Guess what, we will not still be svelte and firm even if we don’t have kids.  At sixty I can’t tell the figures of the women who’ve had children from those who haven’t, but there is joy in children and grandchildren you can’t buy at high-end stores or get from traveling to far-flung, exotic places. At sixty we can all be footloose and fancy-free. The heavy lifting of parenthood is over but the joy we get from it is ours forever.

If anyone is looking at their life of no commitments and fun, and wondering if they made the right choice, they probably didn’t. When you look at your children with their accomplishments or challenges it is something, and something is better than nothing.

Easy doesn’t make the best lives. Not having to learn how to live with someone doesn’t bring more joy into our lives. It may bring less conflict but conflict can lead to growth. Being married and having children is a growth experience.

Not having children to me seems a little like just living on the periphery of life. It doesn’t seem better to never take the chance to dive in deep, to feel deeply, to give more than you think you can, and to love with your whole being.

Is it happy in the moment, or deep joy, contentment, passion, and purpose that we want in our lives? I doubt the happiest people in the old age home are the ones without family. When I look at people who have lived good lives, they are proud of, they weren’t just easy and fun, they were doing the hard work of making society work, families work.

I can’t think of any women I know who regret having their children. Even relationships they are no longer in brought something to their lives. When we are on the outside of life and looking in, even if what we see is messy, and has its miserable moments, it is real. If we are going to accomplish anything in life it will have its messy parts, its miserable parts, and its times of unbelievable joy. We can’t just have the unbelievable joy.

Only when we are willing to live through all of life do we reap the rewards of a well-lived, productive, joyful, passionate life.

I’m waiting to meet the fulfilled single women without children of a certain age. Maybe I’m biased, I chose marriage and motherhood, and maybe I feel the need to justify my choice. Instead, it seems to me the justifying is by the single childless women, trying to justify why they are happier without love in their lives. Friends are great, but I don’t think they take the place of a loving partner and the depths of love we have for our children.

When we don’t create a family of our own we miss out on one of the great joys of life. We get our partner’s kooky relatives and they get ours. We are connected to people, and we form our own tribe.

It doesn’t matter how much I read about how great it is to be single and childless; unless at the moment I read it, the mess is overwhelming and the angst of motherhood and marriage overwhelming, I will always believe I made the better choice.

I think that enduring, committed love between married couples, along with raising children, is the most noble act anyone can aspire to. Nicholas Sparks

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, joy, and love.

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Our Mother gives us life, love, and prepare us for life. The debt we owe our Mother we pay forward to our children.

The debt we owe our Mother we pay forward to our children. Our Mother gives us life.

Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take. Cardinal Mermillod

“My children are my life,” my mother once said. She was in a difficult situation widowed with two children and a brand new baby.

Isn’t that the true statement of Mother Hood? “Our children are our life.” It is why when the worst happens and parents lose a child we feel a pain in our heart. They are going through what we can’t imagine we could get through.

We are connected to our Mothers with a connection we cannot have with any other. If we are lucky it is a strong, deep connection for a very long time. If all they gave us is life, it is a gift we could get no other way.

Many people wish and long for the kind of Mother I was blessed to have. Looking back on my childhood it seems idyllic, like a Rockwell painting. When we grow up feeling truly loved we are the blessed. We have been given a foundation to build our life on that is strong.

It is lovely to see older women with their children and grandchildren. There is a warmth that is palpable coming from them as they interact with sons, daughters, granddaughters, and grandsons. We don’t have to ask if they came from a loving home, it is evident. I don’t mean perfect. What is a perfect mother, a perfect parent?

Our Mother’s did the best they could, most of the time. They gave us the strength to go forward and build our lives. They gave us the courage to create our own families, bring forth another generation.

They say if we survived we got enough love, even if it doesn’t feel like it. We need love to thrive, and the fact we made it through childhood means there was enough to get us to adulthood.

There comes a time when we have to take responsibility for our own lives. Our parents, mothers, fathers, or whoever raised us, did the best they knew how to do, what they could manage. They didn’t mean to not be the best mother or parent they could be. We need to be grateful for what they could give us, and we need to fill our love tanks now, not worry about how full or empty they may have been at various points in our past.

I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday. Gary Chapman

If childhood is looked on with fond remembrances of being immersed in a loving family we are truly blessed. We were given a gift that blesses our life every day we live. If we don’t have fond memories of a loving family we need to go forward in gratitude and forgiveness because they couldn’t give what they didn’t have to give, for whatever reason. Even if it doesn’t seem it could be true that they did the best they could. They probably did. Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.”

Even if the ball was dropped during our childhood, it is up to us to make the best of it. What else is there to do? So many people it seems can’t let go of their past, or forgive their mother’s and father’s for not being perfect, they carry this hurt, and instead of forgiving and becoming better, they hold onto their hurts and become bitter. In time they often repeat the patterns they so despised in their parents, and so despise in themselves. Could forgiveness and understanding break the cycle?

Hurt people, hurt people. How do we heal? Can we accept we had the Mother we did, she did the best she could, and she loved us as much as she was able? She wasn’t perfect, and maybe she tried to give us what she wished she’d gotten, but that isn’t what we needed.

The five love languages according to Gary Chapman author of The 5 Love Languages for Children are.

Words of affirmation, praise, and compliments. Giving a monetary reward to children that seek affirmation will leave them feeling empty.

Acts of service. Early in life, we do things for our children they can’t do for themselves. As they get older we teach them to be independent and do things for themselves. If an act of service is our child’s love language we need to know how to express this. Is it playing ball with them? Helping them with homework? Making their favorite cookies?

Gifts. Children whose love language is receiving gifts, treasure gifts as a tangible token of affection. They interpret a lack of gifts as a lack of love. Recognizing that our child would appreciate a piece of gum over a hug is an important step in building communication.

Quality time. Children whose love language is quality time seek undivided attention. When there are siblings this may be difficult as they want undivided attention. It may be difficult to get one-on-one time with Mom or Dad. They need to feel they are worthy of our undivided attention. Some children need to feel heard, and this may fit into having enough quality time. They have things they want to express and they need to feel understood, listened to, and heard at a level we may find hard. We listen to them endlessly, we think.

Physical touch. Infants who are held fare better than those who are not. As children get older, they still long for physical affection, maybe a pat on the back, a high five, a hug. These children want to literally “Feel our love.”

We may have different love languages than our parents or children. We may give what we wish to get. It may not fill their love tank. We don’t understand what they need that we aren’t giving them. Why don’t they understand and feel how much we love them? Maybe we need to try to fill their love tanks using the five love languages and see which ones seem to be “Their” love languages. Maybe if we think about it the answer is obvious, maybe it is not.

Could part of the answer to close relationships be if they speak the same love language as us it makes an easy relationship, and if we don’t speak the same love language it is harder to have the closeness we all long for?

Is it time to learn a new love language? Can it bring us closer to our mother’s, daughters, sons, and other family members?

Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments. Gary Chapman

Inside every child is an “emotional rani’s” waiting to be filled with love. When a child really feels loved, he will develop normally but when the love tank is empty, the child will misbehave. Much of the misbehavior of children is motivated by the cravings of an empty “love tank.” Gary Chapman

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will come back and read some more. Have a blessed day filled with gratitude, closeness, and love.

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The greatest love. Mother love is the greatest love of all.

Photo of pink daylilly by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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 “Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.” — Lady Bird Johnson, former First Lady of the United States

The greatest love of all is a mother’s love. Mom always said, ” the greatest gift you can give your children is to love their father.”

Is there an ideal amount of time to wait before having a baby? I’m sure there is, I don’t know what it is. Our son was born after three years. It seemed perfect. He was an easy baby. One little baby you can take anywhere. If you need a sitter it’s easy for only one baby.

When our daughter came along she was just as good of a baby, but two children are a lot more than one. I never wanted an only child. I love having brothers and sisters, so I at least wanted one sibling for them to go through life with. I’ve always thought an ideal family would be two boys and two girls. Everyone has a sister and a brother.

Life is both hard and easy when they are babies. Communication is pretty easy if they cry they are hungry, wet, uncomfortable or tired. It gets more complicated from there. Some lives get so complicated that communication breaks down completely. I don’t know what one has to do to keep the lines of communication open. It is a two way street, but if we always keep our end open – there’s unconditional love again.

If unconditional love does exist I think it would be between parent and child. In Jordan Peterson’s book 12 Rules For Life he tells us don’t let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. I think this is really good advice. It is the best feeling in the world when you get a compliment on your children’s behavior.

People love to be around well behaved, smiling, happy children. The magic is gone when they cry, roll on the floor, and thrash about. I was in a grocery store a while ago a young boy was telling his sister what to do and steering her away from things. In a big brother, kind of bossy but not too much kind of way. I had to smile they reminded me of my two kids.

Some people lament about the young people of today but mostly I think they are a great lot. Some of them are finding it hard to find their slot. They are the square pegs in round holes. Many in each generation go through this. Finding our way has never been easy.

When we look at people’s lives we don’t know the angst, frustration, and missteps along the way. We see what looks like overnight success which for many is fifteen years of tough slogging.

When the kids were young most of us were so busy we didn’t have time for hobbies, even reading might be a dream other than nightly bedtime stories and we couldn’t always manage that.

There are so many ways to feel a failure as a parent. When they were babies “the good mothers,” breastfed then made their own baby food. It is easy to feel you don’t measure up. We are good at that, tearing ourselves down, sometimes to the point that we know we could do better but why bother, it won’t be good enough. Good enough for whom? The child, to whom we are the centre of their whole world?

We compare ourselves to others at our peril. We always come up short. If we do the best we can it will be good enough. When I hear children talk proudly about their parents, it is when they knew their parents had struggles, but the child knows they did the best they could for the children and the family.

It is great when we are proud of our children, it might be greater still when our children are proud of us. We set the example for the next generation. How do we expect them to know things we didn’t teach them? No one teaches you about parenthood except by example. Maya Angelou said, “she became the parent her mother was.” If we drop the ball, who picks it up?

Parenthood is a blessing, and a responsibility because we are building the future with our decisions and actions today. No one’s perfect and thankfully perfection is not required. I think we don’t see the result of our parenting until we become grandparents. I look forward to that happy occasion – no pressure kids!

“You’re going to live with this person for the next 18 years. Make sure you raise someone you like.” (grandmother’s saying)

 

Opportunity and Choice,Marriage and Motherhood.

Feelings - photo of clematis by Belynda Wilson Thomas

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What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. Leo Tolstoy

Every choice is an opportunity. The secret to anything is to find the balance.  This blog has to fit into my life, not become my life. I’m not looking for an obsession but an avenue to explore as a writer.

Becoming obsessed is easy. When we met the love of our lives often they took over our lives, sometimes to such a degree we lost our self. Children coming into our life compounded things. All things in moderation are my motto. I understand the all-consuming needs of being a new mother, I was there once. Motherhood is where we lose our self the most. As we each do the best we can, it is hard to know if what we are doing is best for our children, our family, our self.

A few years ago I had an epiphany, I wasn’t who I thought I was. In my own mind, I was the good mother. It was a bitter pill to swallow realizing I fell into “the controlling” mother camp. I was busy telling my kids what to think and what to do. When I started to listen and ask questions I became more effective. Now I am listening and asking questions, I hear what I said being repeated to me. I have made an impact.

I read we have to get over “how things are said” and start listening to what is said. “Don’t use that word in my house,” may seem like the right thing to say. After all, we are setting boundaries. Our children’s job is to grow up and separate from us. What they need from us the most is to be heard. What happens when children aren’t heard? I think a lot of our problems come from children who aren’t heard. We put expectations on them they can’t meet, they don’t know how to tell us and when they try it comes out in a way we don’t find acceptable. If we don’t look past the expression to listen to what is expressed, we’ve failed them “again.”

We all want the kid that excels. When you read about how “the pleaser” does in later life perhaps that isn’t what we should want. Some of us knew what we wanted from an early age and went after it. Many of us meandered through life, trying this and that. Is one way better than the other? When our kids don’t have an early straight path we sometimes give up on them. The big sin of parenthood I believe is giving up on kids. That sullen look is a soul hurting. Pretending they don’t care, because here they are, and if they care they have to do something, but they don’t know what to do, so they pretend they don’t care.

They do care, they do want success, they ache for it. Being lost, confused, overwhelmed, discouraged, depressed, ostracized, they are convinced nothing they do will ever be good enough. So why try? When someone shows these kids a way to shine, thrive, and grab hold they often do. We have to try and find that someone that can come into our children’s lives. Sometimes it’s a teacher, coach, minister, family friend, or author.

Look at the effect Jordan B. Peterson author of 12 Rules for Life is having. Some people think he is accessing the worst side of our children, but I don’t think so. He understands young men. As a University Professor, Clinical Psychologist and father he understands our youth. How young men need to find meaning and purpose. They find it through manning up and taking responsibility for a wife and family. I recommend Jordan B. Peterson and Joe Rogan’s podcast 1139 as an introductory video if you want to hear what he has to say.

The most important things a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Theodore Hesburg

Women may find it a bitter pill to swallow that our liberation hasn’t been without a price. The price is many men don’t know where they fit. If you are the mother of a son, you know what I’m talking about. We want an opportunity for our daughters, and we also want it for our sons. No matter what opportunities you find in life, marriage and family is the key for most people to find meaning, purpose, and joy. I believe we can have marriage and families, equality and respect. It is not a zero-sum game; we can build a future with opportunity and choice for all. If you don’t get a choice, it’s not such a great opportunity.

We pay a price for everything we do. If you stay home and raise your children, there’s a price. Going out into the workforce has a price. Starting your own business has a price, working for a huge corporation has a price. What is the price you are willing to pay? What is the choice you want to make? We shouldn’t be thinking everyone should make the same choice, or have the same outcome. We should want everyone to have the opportunity to make the choices, to build their life with passion, purpose, and meaning.

Your priorities aren’t what you say they are. They are revealed by how you live. What does your life say about the value of your family and marriage? Unknown

The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance by [Trent, John, Smalley, Gary, Stageberg, Kari Trent]
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Reflections on marriage and motherhood

Marriage and motherhood are the two biggest accomplishments in my life. As I sit here a day before my wedding anniversary and a few weeks after my daughter’s bridal shower. I am reflecting on the joy I’ve felt as a mother. Tears spring to my eyes as I think of the wonderful daughter I was blessed with. Any of us who are blessed with a daughter I imagine have these same thoughts. Bringing a life into the world at times seems like the smallest and biggest accomplishment.

As mothers we felt if we worked outside the home we neglected our children. If we stayed inside the home we sometimes felt we neglected our self. We let down the sisterhood who fought for emancipation and women’s rights. At my vantage point I believe the fight was for choice.

In my mother’s time, she left a husband with two children and found she couldn’t support herself and two children. At twenty five widowed with two children and a new baby she was told to give up the baby and build a life. She said, “my children are my life.” This, the truest statement of motherhood is still true today.

Once our children are grown I believe we appreciate them even more. I watched a makeup artist give a makeup tutorial to my daughter. It is lovely seeing the support my daughter and her fiance are getting for their wedding. We rally around as another family is formed. I smile at the hope and joy shining from the faces of brides and grooms at their weddings.  I say a silent prayer hoping that love will still be shining in the years to come. It’s never about the day, no matter how extravagant and beautiful. It is always about the relationship. It is about bringing your best self to the marriage, and bringing out the best in someone else.

The magic of marriage is it transforms two people into a couple. If it is a positive marriage all of society benefits, the chemistry and compatibility evident over the years. Freud said, “It’s a cornerstone of our humanity; only love protects us enough to grow and change.” Love is a verb. If love is something we do instead of something we find, or fall into. Will it have a better chance of standing the test of time? The challenge is to build a life that has meaning. Laugh at life’s challenges, and be willing to get through the tough times knowing this too shall pass. It’s a wild ride. Marriage is both beautiful, and the biggest growth opportunity of your life.

Marriage is I believe the cornerstone of society. It would have been harder bringing up our two children without my husband’s love and support. As a shared goal raising children is one of the best, but not a goal that will fix a marriage. Raising children is a stressful endeavor. The accomplishment like any difficult challenge is rewarding. Watching our children take their place in the world we know their accomplishments aren’t ours, but we feel pride.

Kalil Gibran said, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and thought they are with you, yet they belong not to you.”

The advice I’ve written in wedding cards over the years is; marry the right person and be the right person. If we want our marriage to work we need to look for the best in each other. If we look for our partners short comings, we will find them. Looking for their good points we will find them also. The lens we look through makes all the difference. It is as easy to recount our partner’s good points as their bad. Expecting better instead of worse often gives us better. We get what we expect.

Nobody knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage. Sometimes we don’t even know what is going on in our own. The reason is because we aren’t always straight forward in our communication. Kalil Gibran said, “between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, all love is lost.”

It can be as hard to take back unsaid things as said things. If we truly want better communication sometimes we have to say it. I don’t think you understand what I meant, or what I said. Please accept my apologize for not being a better communicator. I love you, value you, and even though I don’t understand you, I appreciate you. We are on this journey together. I’m in it for the long haul, the ups, the downs, the good, the bad, the funny, and the sad.

In a marriage the two of you may not have the same dreams and aspirations. Everything that is good for one of you should be good for both of you. It may be time for the wife to shine; sometimes it may be time for the husband to shine. If you have each other’s backs and give each other enduring support and encouragement then you feel lifted up. As Dr. Phil says marriage is a safe place to fall. Relaxing in our husband’s or wife’s arms after a good or bad day feels better than being alone in our joy or sorrow.

Some people talk about chemistry as though sex is the most important part of marriage. If you have good sex it’s five percent of the marriage. If you have little or no sex it might become ninety percent of the marriage. So as nike says, “just do it.” Then you can get on with building a marriage.

After thirty two years of marriage I believe it is not lack of love, but lack of friendship that makes an unhappy marriage. After all we spend more time talking and being together than anything else. Ask your husband or wife out for coffee and put the cell phone down. My advice is; if you want a better marriage have more coffee or tea dates. We focus on the big things, but we should enjoy the little things. That’s where the magic is. I said to my husband the other day over coffee. If we travel the world it’s still the two of us, whether in Milan, Paris, or the coffee shop down the street

Where ever you go there you are. If it isn’t good between you does it matter if it’s a place on your bucket list or Tim Horton’s down the street?

Sometimes I think we forget what marriage is. It’s just two people sharing a life. It’s better when it’s a happy life, but that is where the choice lies. You can be happy or you can be unhappy that is your decision. To make happiness your goal is a good way to be unhappy.  If we make meaning our choice it is much easier to pursue meaning than to pursue happiness.  You might not be happy putting your children’s needs ahead of your own, but it’s meaningful and something you will be proud of over the years. Every day we can move forward in pleasure and purpose. There is a lot to savor, food, conversation, laughter, sex, companionship.