Quoted from The Mother Dance: How Children Change Your Life (1998) by Harriet Lerner, the internationally acclaimed expert on the psychology of women and family relationships:
"A friend and I are discussing a magazine survey concluding that couples without children lead happier lives. 'Why report the obvious?' my friend quips. 'Of course couples without children are happier. There is layer upon layer of their emotional lives they will never tap into. Ignorance is bliss.'
I have a somewhat different response. 'No one can measure happiness,' I say. 'And furthermore, the focus on "happiness" somehow misses the point."
"Children are a definite gamble, as far as happiness goes, although they will bring you moments of indescribably joy."
"To opt for kids is to opt for chaos, complexity, turbulence, and truth. Kids will make you love them in a way you never thought possible. They will also confront you with all the painful and unsavory emotions that humans put so much energy into trying to avoid. Children will teach you about yourself and about what it's like not to be up to the demands of the most important responsibility you'll ever have. They'll teach you that you're capable of deep compassion, and also that you are definitely not the nice, calm, competent, clear-thinking, highly evolved person you fancied yourself to be before you became a mother."
"I also think that kids are the best teachers of life's most profound spiritual lessons: that pain and suffering are as much a part of life as happiness and joy; that change and impermanence are all we can count on for sure; that we don't really run the show; and that if we can't find the maturity to surrender to these difficult truths, we'll always be unhappy that our lives--and our children's--aren't turning out the way we expected or planned. Life doesn't go the way we expect or plan, and nobody's perfect, not ourselves or our children. Or, as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross pout it, "I'm not okay, you're not okay, and that's okay." (308-10)