By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
A girlfriend who also happens to be childfree forwarded me an article about the lifestyles of parents versus non-parents. I’m not going to share it with you because, frankly, you don’t need to read it. We’ve already seen so many variations on this theme, and I’m tired of the us versus them, the haves versus the have-nots. The central question in these articles, many of which are based on surveys, seems to be “Who is happier?”
What strikes me as I think about this is that the answer has nothing to do with what we have or don’t have. It’s not things or jobs or money or even children that make us happy. I know many parents who are miserable, many childfree people who are miserable, and many more from both camps who have found something to be happy about. What they all have in common, I think, is attitude.
I’m reminded of the best piece of advice my grandmother gave me. She passed away after 93 years of life, during which she experienced her share of joys and tragedies.
Me: Gram, what is your secret to life? What has kept you going through all of it?
Gram: (Thinking for a moment) Be happy. No…wait. It’s not just that. It’s realizing you have a choice and choosing to be happy.
Me: Wow. It’s so simple.
Gram: …and I have a scoop of ice cream every day!
I know many of you are treading through rough patches of your journey, and I won’t downplay your need and right to grieve. But when you look at the whole picture of your life, I hope you evaluate it with an attitude of gratitude. I hope you can make that choice. And on days when that’s easier said than done, I hope you’ll join me in enjoying a scoop or two of ice cream.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.