Monday, September 12, 2011

Redefining Happiness

Ask any mom if they were happy before they had children and I'll bet they say yes.  They had freedom, energy, creativity, and their youth was on their side.  A few days before my daughter turned four, my mother said to me, "How is it possible that just four years ago you had no children?"  That was a lifetime ago I thought.  Four years, two kids ago I considered myself to be happy.  I was a newly-wed, coping with being a cash poor home owner.

I was happy at the time.  But from the moment my first child was born, I decided that happiness was a moving target and in fact, I didn't know just what my capacity for happiness was until I looked into the eyes of this tiny person that I had created.  It's safe to say that I had no idea just what I was capable of until I had children.

I never knew just how much I could love another person.  Despite losing my dad at a painfully young age, I didn't know until I became a mom just how much I stood to lose in this world.  It is that ever painful reminder, that gaping hole that losing a parent creates in ones life, that reminds me nearly every second just what can be lost, without warning and without any regard for what I consider fair.  It's the grindstone my emotions are constantly sharpened against.  It's the reality we all know but seldom acknowledge, filtering in with painful clarity when a little blurriness is actually necessary to get through the every day routine of life.

When I was in high school, friends would ask me why I was single.  That was the high school equivalent of being unhappy.  The truth was that I never really cared to be in a relationship.  I actually prefered to watch the high school melodrama unfold from the sidelines instead being caught in the web of adolescent romance whose rules and affections moved and changed with a swift breeze.  Then in college, while wallowing in homesickness I did something I had never done before.  I gave my number and a chance to a boy I had never seen before and didn't know at all.  I don't think I could have imagined at 19 that he would be it - my whole notion of love and trust and the model relationship I never saw growing up.

Falling in love with my husband was to that point in my life, the single scariest thing I had ever experienced.  It forced me to let go, be out of control, give someone this power over my happiness that I had somehow imagined to be the gesture of a weak person who didn't really think that they alone were all they needed to be happy.  Falling in love turned out to be the mirror that I always wished I had.  My husband allowed me to see in myself the person I always wished I was, the person I had been all along.

Tonight while driving home, I looked at my kids faces in the rear view mirror and I thought about how everything I believed about happiness now centers around them.  They made me realize that I will do whatever it takes to spend as much time with them as I can because they define happiness for me now.  The fact that Hannah and Jayden love me, depend on me, and because at this moment in time I can safely say that their happiness depends on me, I have defined happiness as being worthy of them.  I owe it to them to pursue my dreams with passion because I have spent too much of my life thinking I didn't deserve to have all my dreams come true.  I think that despite all my fears that my imperfections as a mother will somehow change them in a negative way, I know that I am one of the only people on this Earth that gets to make them smile and be the mirror that they need in order to see the amazing people that they are.

Being a mom has made it pretty clear to me, this one amazing truth, that happiness is not something I have the luxury of hoping will happen.  I must make it happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment