For my entire life – at least for as long as I can remember – when faced with the opportunity to make a wish, I have always wished for the same thing. Every time I blew out my birthday candles or threw a coin in a well or wished on a star, it was always the same. I wished for happiness. Naive perhaps, but then what’s a wish?
There was a point where I considered changing my wish. I decided that I wanted my parents to die together so that neither of them had to be without the other, but then I realised that in order for that to happen they would likely have to die a fairly horrible death, so I went back to my old faithful. Sometimes I thought I was smart. I thought that wishing for happiness meant that I effectively covered all of my bases. Other times I thought that keeping it simple meant that it was more likely to come true.
The other evening I was driving my kids home from somewhere and we saw the morning star. I told them to make a wish. My daughter wished that our pet budgie would learn to swing himself on his swing without help, because that would be fun for him. My son wished that when I die I take him with me, because he doesn’t want to be lonely. He is 4 years old. They asked me what I wished for and I told them. My son announced that I’m very lucky because my wish has already come true.
And he’s right.
It’s taken a while, but I am happy. I’ve realised that happiness is living in the now. It’s about the little things. Cracking a great bottle of wine and cooking something truly fantastic for dinner. Reading a good book instead of doing the vacuuming. Taking a day off work to lie in the sun. Sinking your nose into a kitten’s coat. If you think that sounds weird then you’ve obviously never sniffed a kitten. Kittens smell like happiness.
Happiness is taking stock of what you have and appreciating it. It doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, it’s just about focussing on the bits that are and not spending too much time stressing about the bits that aren’t. It’s about being pragmatic and present.
And smile. People fall in love with a smile.
Like so many things in my life (food, exercise, my ex-husband) I have a strange relationship with this blog. I think about it all the time but I just can’t get my act together. When I do actually sit down and write, the act is so cathartic that I momentarily commit to getting back into the habit – but finding that time is like trying to get me to leave a party while there’re still other people there. When I logged in this morning I deleted several half finished posts spanning the last few months. I wonder if this one will ever see the light of the monitor.
I feel like I juggle time like Tetris – slotting in work and a relationship around 4yo twins, 3 pets, a fitness obsession and an aversion to living in anything that isn’t spotless. I think the thing that I find the most frustrating these days is the fact that I need to sleep more than I used to. It’s a rare evening that I don’t fall asleep on the couch. I even did it when we had friends over a few weeks back. I don’t remember the last time I saw a movie through to its conclusion.
I used to have the party stamina of an ox. Those years were followed by the inevitable sleeplessness that 2 infants impose, and then on the back of that I managed to work myself into such a state of anxiety over my marriage that I if something woke me at night, I may as well have gotten up and begun my day because there was no hope in hell that I was getting back to sleep. On the one hand it was a good thing because I got lots of planning done, but it’s fair to say that I probably wasn’t that much fun to hang out with.
I was talking to my hairdresser (who is also a mother of twins) yesterday and I had an epiphany. I LIKE being so busy that I don’t have time to stop. I can’t imagine it any other way. I spent my childhood as part of a very tight family unit. My siblings and I are close in age and we did everything together. When I left home I had a job to go to every day and a series of relationships to go home to every night. Then I had my kids and I have spent the last 4.5 years spending every waking moment with them. I have developed a horrible kind of guilt over just doing nothing. When I finish my work and the house is clean, if the kids are still at kindy or they are playing together, I bounce around looking for something constructive to do. To sit down and read a book while other people are still at work feels like cheating somehow. The kids start school next year and it’s going to be the first time in my life that I have ever spent my days alone. I feel quite anxious about it.
I’ve been searching for time for so long and now it’s on the horizon and I feel like running from it.
I guess I’ll have time to blog again.
I’ve always had an addictive personality. I grew up knowing it – my mother warned me. Her father was an alcoholic and a gambler. She was (and at 67, still is) a workaholic and maintains very careful control over most other aspects of her life. I have two serious addictions. One is exercise and the other is the 5 o’clock wine. Don’t misunderstand – I’m not what most people would consider an alcoholic. It’s never more than 1 or 2 wines (unless I’m out or it’s an ‘occasion’), but it’s always 1 or 2 wines. I read one of the most interesting Sunday-paper-lifestyle-magazine articles that I’ve ever come across last weekend. It was about the modern day woman’s reliance on that end of the day drink. Turns out it’s not just me and every other mother that I know.
The glass of wine is our off switch. It signifies that the day is over. It’s the modern ‘mother’s little helper’, now that doctors won’t prescribe valium (damn them). My kids learned the word alcohol very early on. It was a bit awkward when we’d be out at a cafe and they would shout in their cute 2 year old voices “Does that have alcohol in it Mama?” Half the eyes in the place would look over with disdain, and the other half with understanding.
Every mother of preschoolers knows that it’s acceptable to have a wine on a Monday, and you only have to wait until 5pm if you’re on your own. Drinking alone comes with it’s own set of rules.
A few months back I had my 6 monthly liver function test and the results came back sub-optimal, to put it mildly. In response I decided to drink my wine with soda. That way two drinks was really only one. That lasted until I forgot to buy soda one week. It’s easy enough to ignore your liver.
I’m speaking mostly tongue-in-cheek of course, but there is an unquestionable truth to what I say. A generation or so ago, women wouldn’t be caught dead without their hair done if company was coming over. I couldn’t care less about my hair, but you wouldn’t catch me dead without a bottle of wine to offer to a girlfriend seeking refuge from dealing with her screaming hoards alone.
So yeah. Addiction. Do I think about it? Yeah, of course? Do I care?
Not enough to stop.