Yes, self deception is a common coping strategy.
Looking at my own life as a parent, I have yet to feel like I'm coping. Rather, I find myself looking forward to the next opportunity to spend with my family. Judging by their reactions when I walk through that door, they apparently suffer the same coping strategy as I do.
Sure, if you only look at the positive moments. The net balance swings towards the negative. Parents don't see it because of choice supportive bias.
The "negative" moments are no more troubling than those elsewhere in life. Heck, a lot of those negatives are a great source of amusement for my wife and I, and they make for some absolutely adorable photos. Work issues have been much more of a chore than child rearing, and I feel my job is quite productive, in a nice laid back atmosphere. The net balance is FAR greater in the positive, than the negative for both work and family life. Maybe I'm coping... But damn if I don't have fun doing it.
Some free time and a good nights sleep.
The kids sleep fine, so I sleep as much as I want. I have plenty of free time, I just choose to spend it with friends AND family. Our children are active participants in our daily lives, not burdensome tethers. That may be the key for folks who think like you though, and again refers back to my original comment - if you're not ready, you're not ready. For those "adult" things you don't take your kids to (loud concerts, romantic evenings, etc) the kids LOVE spending the night/weekend with the grandparents.
Put simply, if you feel you screwed up your life and regret your choices, it doesn't mean everyone else did.
Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (1) Gee, I wish we hadn't backed down on 'noalias'.