New York Magazine's article on declining happiness levels and children has been much discussed in the blogosphere. We've talked a bit about the research before on this blog. In a nutshell, we're spending more time with our kids than ever before, but it's a lot of work, and it's not all that much fun. Hell, lots of women report that housework gives them more satisfaction than parenting. Having spent too much time on the edge of a soccer field, I will be the first to say that, at times, toilet bowl cleaning is a preferable activity.
However, there may be more to life than the instant gratification of sharing a pitcher of beer with friends at a pub. The author of the article rightly points out the limitations to the happiness studies. They don't measure concepts such as long-term satisfaction and nostalgia. They can't measure whether children provide parents with a feeling of purpose or even a life narrative.
Sometimes I feel that my life began when my children were born; everything else is a blurred jumble of discarded photographs in a box in an attic.