One of the occupational hazards of caring for a newish baby is frequent accosting in the supermarket or mall by middle aged or older folks (always, they themselves are shopping WITHOUT small people, I notice) warmly urging you to "Enjoy this, it goes so fast!" or "These are the best times of your life!" The worst, in my opinion, is when they ask YOU, "Aren't you just in heaven?" or "Is he a really good baby?" They always ask this so eagerly, so expectantly, that you know the only acceptable reply to send them on their way with their dreams intact is a radiant "Oh yes!"
And it's not that there aren't moments when I AM in heaven, or that Jameson is being calm and easygoing and could fall into that dubiously-named category of "good babies." But those moments, for one thing, are almost NEVER when I am out shopping in a hot, overcrowded supermarket worrying about budgets and milk letdown and my three year old escaping into women's lingerie. It's not a good time to compare my life to heaven and expect me to respond with other than a high pitched cackle.
I guess my point, which I have discussed ad nauseum with my husband, mom, friends, SIL and MIL is this: life with small children does provide probably the sweetest and most special MOMENTS upon which to look back fondly when your kids are grown and gone. But in general it is far from the most pleasant or fun phase of your life, and trying to pretend otherwise is disingenuous and sometimes downright dangerous. Certainly it is false advertising. I would not tell my friends, "Have a baby! It is so fun and fulfilling!" I would say, "Yes, have a baby! It is fun and fulfilling... And also confusing and discouraging and messy. It is expensive and all consuming and often a total buzzkill for your self esteem."
I would say that it is worth it, without question. I'm even still perfectly happy about my decision to have kids first, then go to school and decide what I want to, you know, BE when I grow up. If nothing else, given all the reproductive issues and pregnancy difficulties I've already had, I am very glad I got right on the baby having part of my life immediately, when I am (presumably) as healthy and fertile as I'm ever going to be. It's just that life as a stay at home parent, or ANY kind of parent, is not non-stop bliss and baby powder smells and story reading. It's also wet underpants and stickiness on everything and lost toys and inexplicable tantrums and feeling invisible to the very people into whom you are pouring the best of yourself every day. The view is breathtaking, yes, but the climb is all uphill.