Whatever You Decide to Do, make sure it Makes You Happy.
A little over a year ago, we moved into our current home. The previous home was purchased before me and my now husband were married, and two years before we became parents. We found a lot of joy in those early years…finally owning a home, making changes (here’s a tip…don’t sand down your staircase in the winter…it’s awfully dusty, and staining the treads takes forever to dry!), being ‘adult’ with our jobs and our home payments, walking down to the strip to get coffees and to do a little shopping. And while being with my man was extraordinarily satisfying, I needed more, but just didn’t know what that was.
I was working then as a teacher, and while I loved it, I always felt a little empty, a little like my full purpose was not being met. I loved helping kids, particularly those in need. My old students were some of the best, and most conflicted, human beings. I loved being there for them, and helping them, and listening to them, and speaking for them to defend their world. I would routinely buy extra things to give them (books, paper, food), and enjoyed it the most when even the ‘big kids’ would stay after school to chat. I was happiest when I was creating something different, something artistic, and helping kids in the process. But, I will admit, most of the job I did not like. Too much politics where kids are involved, many of my fellow colleagues missing the bigger picture all together.
Being happy in life is actually quite tough to do. There are a lot of things that give us satisfaction, but rarely do things legitimately give us happiness…that overwhelming feeling of peace and contentment. That feeling of joy so profound you feel like you are wearing it on your face…like a glow that shines and leads the way. I thought in my early years that I was happy because I had checked off many of the items on the 30-something checklist – get a job, find a partner, buy home, get married, have babies. I was proud of the choices I had made, and felt confident that I was on the path to lifelong responsible adulthood.
Three things in my life made me realize that, while I had achieved many of my goals, happiness was about my extension, the greater context, and the people in it. I was proud to be a wife, to have a career, to own an old city home that was a shit box slowly getting fixed up…
But it wasn’t until that moment I held our daughter, our first-born, that I understood the feeling and depth of happy. I felt it in me…it moved me, and propelled me to do better and to be better. And better than that, I saw it in my husbands face, our family’s anticipation, and in our home. I was so honoured to be a part of this life that had such a magical and majestic impact on the lives of others. I did the dutiful mat leave stay, and went back to work 15 months later (surprisingly) pregnant with our son. And I hated it. I felt awkward and unsettled and unhappy to be away. I wanted the worry closer. I wanted to hold her more, and to make dinner for us, and to tend to our home. I did not want to be photocopying lessons, and marking tests, and arguing over supervision schedules.
And less than two years after that magnanimous day when I became a mommy, our sweet son was born…long and lean, and gentle and kind. And one horrible day in March less than two years after he was born, we came close to loosing him. And that day made me realize that the our home did not give us a satisfying level of happiness. It gave us pride, but we weren’t happy with what we had or where we were. My kids and my husband light me up. They brought me immeasurable amounts of happiness, but our context needed to change. We needed space. We needed quiet. We needed to indulge our ‘we’ moments on our terms and in our ways. And then I realized it. My happiness is my family and our home. And I wanted to be with both as much as I could, and in the best way that we could. Nothing replaces time.
I quit my job. And then things changed. I became an even better mom and wife. And I decided that our life, and our home, should ALWAYS reflect the very best of us. Knowing that I did not have to go back to work was delicious because I got to do what no one else is honoured enough to do…wake up every day and take my kids to school. And clean their breakfast. And make their lunch. And yell at them to get out the door. And pick them up from school. And make a supper that we keep warm for daddy to come home to. Some people looked sideways at the idea (Who stays at home in this day in age? But you have a University education…why are you wasting it?), and I could have given a shit. We were at our best when I was at home and it made me happy.
And then we moved, and satisfied our family need to be close and comfortable and quiet. And then one day, about a month after we had moved in, I awoke with the most amazing feeling. I felt warm, and grounded, and home. It’s not, in any way, that I wasn’t happy before. But this LEVEL of happiness was new. It was like a high. It was right. And I felt for the first time that I fully understood what ‘happy’ meant.
Whatever You Decide to Do, make sure it Makes You Happy. I am happy to be at home, and to be responsible for the home tasks. It’s not demoralizing or insignificant or unimportant work either…I value it 1000 times more than I ever did when I worked out of the home. Being a stay-at-home mom means that I have little people in my home, and that’s simply the best. I’m happy to prepare our meals each day…it’s fun and creative and allows me to indulge my (secret) inner foodie. I’m happy to wait to eat with my husband, because those 15 minutes at the end of a long day reconnect us to one another. I’m happy to garden, mow the lawn, clean the house, and paint because I get to put our stamp on our place in the world. I’m happy to have moved out of the city. Decide to take a risk and to pursue YOUR happiness. If you don’t know what it is, shut up and listen to yourself. When we are quiet, we hear the most noise. Admit what it is and move on. Stop looking for happiness in a job and consider that the job is a portion of the overall pie. Find your worth…it may not be where you’ve placed it, and that might be why you feel unsettled. Sink your energies into your children…kids are the best reflection of what happens in the home. Honour the place and the people who make you happy.
Enjoy Your Moments with The Ones Who Make Your Memories.