I fly on airplanes just about every week, and if I forget a book or a DVD I want to watch I often end up buying magazines to read. I love Scientific American- (a dream role one day would be a scientist who gets to wear fantastic clothes and lives in Hawaii)- and so I picked up an issue a month or two ago and read a depressing article about parenting.
The gist was, that parents sort of falsely inflate how wonderful it is to be a parent. If I’m remembering it, the more parents were informed of the financial toll of raising a child to the age of 18, the more they expressed the emotional satisfaction they got from being a parent. It was implied that in our current culture, where children really provide no real economic help to their parents as they had generations ago, there is really no benefit to having kids at all except for whatever emotional satisfaction loving your kids brings. And that parents don’t really have the huge emotional rewards they claim. Until they are confronted with the massive bill. Then comes all the professing of what a joy it is to be a mom or dad in an attempt to make yourself feel better about the huge amount of money sucked from your bank account annually by those kids.
As I read the article I also started to panic… what am I doing? Yikes!Was having a child just total financial suicide and I don’t even really like it? I suppose I am very persuaded by things I read, but immediately upon sliding the magazine into my seat back pocket and looking out the window into the fluffy clouds, I knew this article was kind of crazy. As a baby cried in the seat behind me, (as a former frequent-with-baby flier I am now immune to being bothered by infants crying on planes) I thought the whole article was nuts- who designed that study anyways?
I have to admit your 20’s are hard. Mine were crazy and fun and lonely and exciting, and I have some really unique adventures and people and places in my memories that are just so delightful to me that that was my life. I had probably way more freedom than most people being a mostly waiting around for work actress. Most of my days were entirely my own, to do what I pleased when I wanted in fun cities like New York or Los Angeles, and I think I had the mentality of a 24 year old until I was at least 30. Seems ideal? It was hard.Floating around with a desire for purpose, with jobs that came and finished and gave me purpose and challenges, in spurts- but striving for more of it, and striving is exhausting too, it’s draining and confusing and I questioned how fickle, mentally abusive, and bizarre my career was and if I was really cut out for a life this…. hard.
And then my 30’s just seem so much more full of joy, even though I have so much less of the things I thought people wanted. Especially as a woman. Less freedom, less smooth skin, less impromptu travel, less ability to be “up and coming”, less attention at a party, less tolerance for public transportation, ... less time. I spent time in my 20’s panicking that one day I would be in my 30’s. I was that person. And now that I am here, and now that I have found my family, I can honestly say being a mom is hands down the most rewarding, satisfying thing I could have ever imagined out of life. I often joke with my manager about the kinds of directors I want to work with, or roles I’d like and I say things like “I’d work for free!” (Downton Abbey?) or even the ridiculous “I’d pay them!” (um...maybe not quite) but the reality is, that’s what being Akiva’s mom is. It’s a role where I guess I’m paying them* to do it because I love it so much.
So honestly, I am so gooey doe-y eyed in love with my son I really think Scientific American is overlooking some key parent bonding psychological studies that must be out there... It’s a feeling so pure and awesome that if I knew it existed and never became a mother, it would have been the greatest regret of my life not to experience it. I am so proud of myself for taking on the challenges of parenting and improving in the ways I want to improve…and so blown away by watching the miracle unfold of a person creating himself. I really love this job.
I do think most parents really and truly feel this way. I think nature designed us to get an intense satisfaction from parenting, and it’s not some psychological trick we play on ourselves. What do you think? You think maybe this post is a reaction to reading about how much college tuition is going to be in 2026?
*right now thats any company that manufactures toy trains or books about trains