Some research suggests that being a parent doesn’t make people happier. Parenting is stressful. You have to stay up later and get up earlier and make food for people who don’t want to eat it and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince someone to put on socks.

I find meaning in parenting in two ways, though: first, I wanted parenting to be part of the meta of my life. It was always a filter through which I wanted to experience the world. (Not everyone wants to be a parent, and that is totally legitimate, too!) Second, there are some very specific moments of parenting that bring such joy. They are often the most random, simple moments. Like today when I came back home from dropping the kids at school and our van at the repair shop and my husband at work, and I walked through the door, turned to shut it behind me, and saw that little fingers had drawn a smiley face, complete with curled hair, on the screen door.

That’s why I’m a parent: I would not have wanted to miss that.

Smiley face

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