Is it shocking to you, Mr. Scientist, that working at least 98 hours every week, without any marketable form of payment, would be exhausting?
Does it surprise you that rarely getting time alone, or having to master at least 6 different high-level job titles without formal schooling or special training could maybe stress a person out?
Is it revelation that emotionally and even physically aching for other people 24/7/365 might tug at—or take over—the same parts of the brain that are attempting to produce “happiness” hormones?
If the answer was yes to any of those questions, it’s safe to say you’re not a mother.
Because I'm fully aware of what every mother is thinking right now and it's: no effing duh.
But good news—a bunch of psychologists at UC Riverside analyzed 3 different studies, totaling over 18,000 people, to officially conclude that dads are happier than moms.
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Hey moms, you feel free to stop reading. You already know everything I’m about to say and more.
DADS. Listen up.
You leave the house for 9-11 hours a day. You compartmentalize the home part of your life and leave it behind while enjoying the socialization and distraction that comes from having a formal job. Which you get paid for. And which we’re grateful for! But stay-at-home moms don’t have any of the luxuries just described. And if you don’t understand why any of those things are luxuries, go home and have a long chat with your wife. She’ll straighten you out.
You run errands on occasion “for us,” and you may even taxi the kids to parties or practices on the weekends. That’s great! Just realize that we do it all day. Every day. And we’ve got those things calendared and organized and time-checked and signed up for to a point that all you have to do is task fulfillment. Because we bought the present after thoughtfully researching the recipient. We wrapped it. We made sure clothes were clean and hair was done and party manners were taught. And we sent you the address to the party. And reminded you that you needed to take them. And it was exhausting. Because it was expected.
You come home after your stressful day at the office and often find a healthy dinner not only planned and shopped for (thanks for the grocery money, btw), but prepared. Or pizza ordered in. Either way, you’re fed without you having to think twice. And so are your kids. And then you get to spend an hour playing with those no longer hangry kids. And that is fatherhood to you. Which is fine if you find it works for you and your spouse and your kids. But I’m willing to bet you would all be better off with more participation than that.
And by you all, I mean all your wives. Because as the psychologists at UCR discovered, it’s that one hour of play time after work that men look to when they report their happiness as a parent. And sure, moms will likely benefit by incorporating more play into our busy days—and rest assured, stay-at-home-moms are BUSY—but it is safe to say that fathers are much more likely to report “happiness” when they aren’t also laden with the HEAVINESS that is the mental and emotional workload of a mother. Or the unpredictable hormone roller coaster. Or extreme body changes. Or lack of consistent outlet and village.
The list could and does go on for so many moms. The indefinable and unmeasurable extent of motherhood is a weight rarely applied to fatherhood. But I’m thinking scientists would likely find that as men begin to carry a little (or a lot) more of the load that moms already do, not only will moms be able to honestly report back more happiness, but dads will find more lasting joy and fulfillment as parents and partners…not just short-term pleasure as playtime buddies.