TikToker Asks: Is Being A Parent Not Enjoyable?

Social media tries to answer the age-old question of when the "ideal" time is to have kids in order to "enjoy" life. But does having kids take the joy out of life? We think not.

Parents enjoying the outdoors with children

Is there a good time to have kids? Do they really ruin everything? One TikToker is saying the quiet thoughts potential parents frequently have out loud. The user, who goes by @baileerainwater, posted a now-viral video to TikTok that runs through people's reasoning on when to have kids. And the ending takes a massive plot twist.

"Yeah, I'm having kids now in my early 20s, so I can really enjoy my 40s. Like, I will be home free in my 40s. I'll be able to do whatever I want," she says.

Then, she flips sides (literally and figuratively). "Well, I'm going to have my kids in my 30s, so I can really enjoy my 20s. I really want to enjoy my 20s, so I'm going to wait."

Then, the influencer looks straight into the camera and asks, "Is having kids not enjoyable?"

The takes in the comments are hotter than a summer day in Arizona.

"I swear so many people consider their youth the 'best years of their lives' simply bc they were single and childless," writes the top commenter. To which someone replies, "Mhm, coming from a person in their 20s [and] carefree, I can definitely say it's enjoyable—kids aren't a right-now thing."

"Unpopular opinion: I'm just not having kids so I can just enjoy my whole life and continue to spoil my niece and nephew and be the cool aunt," says another person, whose opinion doesn't really seem all that unpopular with the commenters.

"Parents talk about it like it's serving a prison sentence, so I think not," says another.

"Kids are enjoyable. Motherhood is not. Motherhood is not [because] of patriarchy and destruction of community," says another.

(Insert all the fire emojis here.)

I actually find kids and motherhood enjoyable, though that one commenter has a point—the patriarchy and lack of a village do make parenting a massive challenge. As a disclaimer, parenting isn't for anyone. If you don't want kids, don't have them—and don't judge people for their child-free choice. My husband and I personally decided to give ourselves a year between getting married and having kids so we could find a home and take a couple of vacations not suited for tiny people. But there's nothing I wanted more than to be a mom after that.

Children are not a prison sentence, and I cannot stand the "kids-ruin-everything" cliché. The "prison sentence" is actually this crazy system we all have to operate in.

Unfortunately, society has placed unrealistic expectations on parents (and, as a result, infants and children). For example, there's an idea that they should be sleeping 12 hours by 12 weeks old (which conveniently is considered a generous amount of paid leave from work—something many Americans don't have any access to in the first place). Employers expect parents to work like they don't have kids, and the system is set up so that job security and the health insurance that comes with it can get cruelly dangled in front of us like fish bait.

You're also still supposed to be able to have weekly date nights, be totally cool leaving your kids to go to destination weddings, but then get judged for being selfish if you do either of the aforementioned things. It's not fair. But it's not my kids' fault, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. In short, my hot take: My babies aren't the problem, but basically everything else is.

There's so much joy that comes with the chaos of parenting. Being able to nurse my 13-month-old back to sleep, my body remaining his favorite home even after more than a year on the outside. Hearing my sweet 3-year-old say, "I love you, mommy," before going to bed after a long day. The simple joy and comfort of reading the same books over and over (and over and over) again. Watching my kids learn and grow and re-discovering the world through their wide, curious eyes.

Vacations aren't going to be couple's massages and sitting quietly on the beach with a fruity cocktail for quite some time. I can't get to spontaneous happy hours. I let go of fitting into my pre-baby clothes and having a clean house for three years, deciding that a society that isn't going to help me doesn't get to dictate how my body or home looks. (My clothes do fit again—not that they need to—and I did go on a spring-cleaning kick, so there is a way to strike a new version of balance once you have your feet under you.) But ultimately? I've never slept less, but I've never loved more.

You don't "need" a child to live a full life, and I don't think we should view kids this way—they're not accessories. They're tiny, dependent humans who may not sleep 12 hours by 12 weeks old. But having kids is 100% enjoyable, even if you don't love every moment. Do they require adjusting your lifestyle? Yes, in my opinion. Do they require adjusting your expectations, even when society won't adjust its? Yes, unfortunately. But I'll take watching the next generation grow up before my eyes over a couple's massage and home-free 40s any day.

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