No, I am not talking about money.
Getting pregnant really makes you think about a lot of things, including financial security and hopes for the future. Mr. G and I have our share of material concerns with our little one on the way, but we are more focused on raising a healthy, happy, well adjusted child.
Oh, and being happy and fulfilled ourselves, of course. :)
A couple months ago, this post by Offbeat Mama gave me a lot of confidence. Mr. G and I had been worried that our various part-time jobs would not be enough to care for a new baby. Should one or both of us pick up more hours? we wondered. The responses to this post settled the question in my mind. The amount of quality time our child will get to spend with both parents will be far more valuable than any amount of income.
What about the happiness of parents? Wouldn't we be happier with more work hours and larger paychecks? Apparently the answer is a resounding "No." Research shows that in general, the more parents earn, the less happy they become. Why? Unscientifically, I would guess that more income correlates to more hours worked. Less time with the family and less time to relax and have fun equals less happiness. Also, people tend to get really disappointed when they expect material goods or status to make their lives better. In the end, nothing is as fulfilling as healthy interpersonal relationships.
This goes for people without spouses or children, too. Friendships have far more to do with wellness and happiness than income. Plenty of research also supports the idea that taking pride in one's work and having creative freedom is far more satisfying than a pay raise or bonus.
So when someone asks (or you ever start to wonder to yourself) how much your life and time is worth, think about it this way:
How rich in time are you?
How much creative freedom do you enjoy, within or aside from your work?
Are you proud of the effects you have on the people around you?
How are your relationships with your favorite people?
These questions are far more relevant to happiness, wellness, and in my mind, "success," than any questions about income or social status. "How much does it cost to support your lifestyle?" has nothing to do with "How well are you living?"
This classic clip of teacher and poet Taylor Mali sums it up nicely.
Think again. What do you make? :)