Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are you happy now?

My son Jack has asked me that question a lot in 2011. It's not the "are-you-happy-now?" (i.e., you will never be satisfied...) question.  It's more hopeful: Have the clouds parted, Mommy? The boy saw his mama cry many tears earlier this year and he has also been been nurturing his own sense of empathy, so he's very aware of my state of happiness/sadness. (And, blessedly, those moments of tears are very few and far between these days.)

So, here's my question to you: Are you happy now?

Articles like this one from two days ago surface frequently, citing studies that having children make you less happy. I'm often at a tough spot to say I'm really happy these days. I've got two small children who depend on me for everything. I have a strong network of local friends and, of course, Maria, for daily support, but both Jeremy's and my families live out of town and if you look at it through a practical lens, that's just one less daily resource we have. And, honestly, the only time I let myself relax is a few minutes at bedtime, when I read a few pages of a parents or food magazine or go on some preemie online board.

And there are times - even more so lately - when I fantasize about my old life. And they aren't even that great of fantasies - just the dream of being able to work until 7 p.m. during a weeknight (so I could finally get caught up at work) and then meet my husband out for dinner, a movie, a play or a visit to a jazz club. Sigh.

My life is a middle-class kind of difficult right now. My husband and I are blessed with jobs we love, a roof over our heads and we shop at Whole Foods. We don't have to worry about our next meal or the safety of our neighborhood. When I say that my life is hard, the difficulties lie in me trying to balance work and home as a full-time working mama primarily. And not having a lot of time for myself.

When you put things into a broader context - as I'm wont to do - and I think about the devastation in Joplin, Missouri this week - or Japan earlier this year - or the 10th anniversary of September 11, I know I have nothing to complain about. Nothing.

So, am I happy now? I am - pretty much.  I do admittedly miss my old life sometimes. Jeremy would have one awesome wine collection by now if we hadn't had kids. I probably would have been to Paris by now too. And let's not even think about the euphoric state Roscoe the cat would be in.

Here is what I know:

I have a lot of joy in my life. Joy comes from my daughter's smile and her kicky legs and my son learning the concepts of rhyming and opposites in a single week (and me having no idea if he's behind or ahead of kids his age).

I am blessed.

I am thankful.

I am excited about the future. Honestly, I cannot wait to see the people my son and daughter will become.

I would never say my life was meaningless before kids, but I certainly feel more purpose these days - especially at my day job of saving the planet for Jack and Jossie. And that makes me feel satisfied.

So what about you?

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