Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Are You Happy?

"Are you happy?" was the catch title on the magazine.  I didn't pick it up but the question lingered.

I thought it an odd question, one which theoretically requires only a "Yes." or a "No." and yet it begs with either answer, "Why?" 

At two in the morning, the answer woke me up from sleep and came spinning out of my brain.   Was I happy?  Yes. 


It wasn't because my life was easy.  That week we'd dealt with a broken dryer, throw up from two children, one really awful grade, the bills, collecting of paperwork for taxes and an unwanted three extra pounds.  Top that with college looming for the oldest, the youngest being only two months old and a three year old that kept having set backs on pottying and certainly by the world's standards, I should be miserable if not insane to boot.  

Yes I should be prematurely gray and worn thin. Ten children lead to exponential messes if even half drop their shoes, coats and backpacks at the door when they explode out of the car.  Ten beds to make or at least check, thirty three meals in a day and sixty-five items of clothing plus possible sheets and towels loom every evening by the washing machine.  There is always a list.  This week two need hair cuts, we need to get an oil change, three dressers should be threaded for clothes out of season or that don't fit and I have to schedule four dental appointments, order a birthday present, get track shoes and we have music lessons on Tuesday.

With pasta, hot dogs and waffles as regulars on the weekly menu, vacations that are mostly camping or to see family and a 12 passenger van that often is filled with stuffed animals, stickers and coats that have been orphaned, it seems I should at the very least feel discontent and dissatisfied. Like a modern day Rapunzel trapped in a tower of old french fries, diapers and broken crayons, (all of my own making), waiting to make a mark on the world in some way other than mothering, I should be screaming "Calgon Take me away." But the inescapable fact of the stillness of 2:32 a.m. as I listened to the faint sound of my son's radio, my two year old singing in his sleep and the gentle sigh of milky contentment from the baby, was.... I am happy.

Even with three year old sneakers and maternity jeans because the others don't fit quite yet, it didn't matter and I couldn't stop the happiness.   It was pouring out like an endless bubbling fountain and yet I felt full; the fullness of my happiness echoed my youngest daughter's happiness at being full. 

Back to the question. Why?

Because the world does not quite get happiness. 

It can't because happiness is not of this world.  Happiness is not the absence of work or total ease of life.  (Celebrities would be example 1 of how having all your appetites sated and all your worldly needs addressed in abundance and being even surrounded by success and beauty have nothing to do with actual happiness). Happiness is and was and will always be a state of grace, brought on by having meaningful things to do, people to love and a relationship with the Divine that acknolwedges that all of this, good, bad, messy and ugly, difficult and seemingly impossible is practice.  We are testing how much we will love in this life; how close we dare skate to God in our fallen state.

With a beloved husband and ten alarmingly interesting people to serve and nurture thorugh this life, my life could only be understood as lavishily happy, shamelessly joyful, luxiouriously luminously laborious but peaceful.   Was I happy?  Yes. Yes.  A thousand times yes times a thousand more yes.

3:07 a.m.   Now.  If the question had been, "Are you rested?"  Different story.


Helene said...

A beautiful post. You wear your title of Mother with elegance and grace.

Stay At Home Mom at Work said...

So true. Love this post. I am often told, "I could never have THAT many kids." if five is just out of this world unbelievable. In so many ways, you have captured my thoughts in this post. As a Mom, we work hard, but in the acts of service we find our true selves, and that is happiness to me.

Karen said...

Nice to know that someone's happy ...

MightyMom said...


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