Statistics say people without children are happier

I went to a home party at my girlfriend’s house this weekend. Unlike most social events I attend this one came with a room full of strangers. When I got there I didn’t know a single soul aside from the hostess. But hey, no biggie. I love new people and pride myself in my ability to talk to anybody (except that one checker at the grocery store who runs when he sees me head toward his line).

There are specific steps to these situations in order to avoid social outcast status. Step one, take ten minutes to just learn names. When I first ask a name and talk to someone I pretty much ignore what they say and only look for opportunities to interject with said new name. “Really Mary? Wow Mary, that’s so funny. Is Mary short for Marianne?” People like their names.

Step two is to feel out the social dynamic. Here’s the thing about being a stay-at-home mom. I socialize with people at the school, the park, those who do mid-morning grocery shopping, nurses, home repairmen, and the old German man who lives down the street. I rarely (never) attend gatherings of professional women (the kind who work during the day).

So when I found myself in a room full of girls who fit the twenty-something medical professional stereotype I was surprisingly…quiet. I am super proud of my messy kids. I’m an educated woman who writes professionally for a living (when I’m not sewing or wasting time on laundry or being mostly lazy) but that’s just something I can say to sound good.

The reality is simple. With four kids in tow I am the quintessential Mama.

We sing in the car, I keep suckers in my purse, I eat a lot of sandwich crusts, I know the value of supplying sun glasses to a grumpy toddler in a grocery store, and I haven’t had a boss or a co-worker in ten years. My Pinterest boards include topics like preschool and hair bows (also too lazy to make), I mostly can’t have a conversation that doesn’t include something like, “Well last week when the kids got home from school…” because my kids are the most interesting thing about my life. Without them what would I talk about?

So I stood at the sink and listened to the conversations around me. The first was a group of girls to my left who were going off on women who dye their hair red and how sick they are of it.

After wearing 50 shades of blond I have officially been a red head for three weeks now. Not going to join that conversation.

The girls across the kitchen from me were talking about melding back into the single life after a break-up. Nope, got nothing there.

Finally I tuned into the girls on my right and woohoo! They were talking about babies. I leaned in and started to join the conversation when I heard this statement:

“All the research shows that it’s a statistically proven fact that people without kids are much happier than people with kids.”

Gah. No where to run.

This topic quickly drew everyone in and we listened as one of the girls proclaimed the values of living a child-free life. She was so convincing in her rhetoric that I found myself imagining the cleanliness of a home without markers and mud, quiet dinners with Jason where we don’t have to talk about elbows or slurping or burping or ear buds at the table. And for crying out loud, the simplicity of laundry for two.

At this point I hadn’t really come out of the closet with the extent and size of my litter and was considering reintroducing myself as Marsha, a visiting waitress from Detroit because obviously that would be preferable.

I’m relieved to say that these thoughts only passed through my head for a few moments. I looked around and was surprised to see so many bobbing heads, like this idea of a life without children is the new thing (which is obviously true since WE’RE ALL HERE). And suddenly I thought of something.

“You know,” I said, interrupting her well laid arguments, “It’s definitely a thought…” And then I told them about my afternoon.

June came home from kindergarten on Friday and burst through the door to hug me.

“Mommy,” she said, “Were you happy today?” This was an odd question but she is a girl. I had to smile because actually, I was happy. I specifically remembered driving out of the garage and feeling a nice little burst of happy just because I could. I don’t know, maybe it’s the new red hair.

“I was, June, I was very happy today.”

“Oh Mommy, I’m so glad! I prayed all during recess that you would be happy today.”

I don’t know what happy looked like before June because moments like this have completely ruined me for solitude. I’m pretty sure I’m statistically happier now than I was before she got here.


  1. This is absolutely lovely. Things may have been easier before children, but definitely not happier.

  2. Oh, Annie, I’m so glad you stood up for mommy-hood. I was thinking of all the things I would have said in your shoes, and I think you nailed it with the happy. I realize that I don’t make motherhood look very glamorous- on the contrary, but it’s the joy of it that is hard to explain to people until they’ve felt it. Your story was perfect.
    BUT I want to know about the rest of the party- how did they react?
    Also, I want to see a picture of your red hair- I saw you pinning red heads on pinterest and I suspected you were going that direction… I used to be a red head, pregnancy hormones drained it all out of me, maybe I should try it again?

  3. Mona McCallum says:

    Oh, Annie! That was a beautiful story! I read it and then I had to share it with Rey (my hubby). I cried and so did he! Thanks so much for sharing and also for being able to put into words what so many of us would like say.

  4. I think they meant “statistics say people without children are more selfish”… 😉

    I love this, I also want to know if the conversation changed and I definitely want to see a picture of your red hair! I LOVE red hair!! I have some dye under my sink this very minute and have been working up the energy to get it done. 🙂

  5. annie valentine says:

    I know, red shots need to be posted. I’ll get to it.

    And Melinda, yes the conversation came to a pleasantly abrupt halt before making a hasty U turn.

  6. Oh, I love this. Statistics ain’t got nothin’ on us.

  7. Awesome! Thank you!!

  8. Sierra Hess says:

    Wait…you are now a redhead?!?!?! I need to see a picture! I haven’t been keeping up with your blog lately but that is a super exciting change for you! Way to go, you brave girl,you! Oh, and life with kids totally kicks *SS compared to life without ’em! Those chicks just don’t know what they are missing!

  9. Good thing those girls’ parents decided to forego happiness to conceive, bear, and raise them. Lands. Thanks for standing up for happiness.

    And ditto the request for red hair photos.

  10. You are awesome! Perfect answer to that. I can think of some other statistics about people who consciously decide to forgo kids. As they age they become, well, rude & bitter in my experience. They don’t know how to stop & smell the roses. Having kids makes us much less selfish whether we realize it or not. Last week my children & I had the opportunity (yes, that’s exactly what it was) to go to the funeral of a dear aunt. I went while my kids babysat since they didn’t know her. I loved (& I’m sure so did she) all of her posterity (little ones) who were there. I wouldn’t change being a mom for anything in the world. So very glad that you had the exact perfect comment for that party!

  11. Proud of you! As I’m in heading into 2nd trimester of #5 and dreading telling my neighbors who have already voiced concerns this spring about how I keep track of (or sometimes don’t) my crew, I have a daily thought of anxiety around the upcoming conversations. But the thought flies away pretty quickly because I love my life with kiddos and a husband who loves it as much as I do! We are so fortunate to be so blessed and I love sharing that side of it with everyone – lately, my migrant women’s German class! It ROCKS!