My cousin over at http://www.raisinaruckus.typepad.com/ seems to think that I never find joy in anything. She made this statement after I suggested that the novelty of her new dishwasher would soon wear off when she discovers that she's the only person in her house that is capable of loading and unloading the damned thing. I'm just a realist is all. But I do find joy in many things. So if you came here today looking for a laugh - you might want to skip this post and go to some of my older material. Because today - I'm proving little Miss Polly Anna that I, too, have joy in my heart.
Tuesday, I arrived at work in a full on rant. I was irritated or frustrated, or maybe both, with someone at Company X. And I was emailing with a fellow employee back and forth, ranting and raving and cussing and carrying on about the idiocy of the situation at hand. And as I typed and ranted and raved and cussed, my phone dinged - I had a text. It was from my brother, announcing the birth of his son - instantly my heart was filled with joy and as I returned to my rant on email - I found that I no longer had rage in my heart and even told the recipient of the email that I could no longer rant - I'd just become an aunt and I was too happy to bitch about petty bullshit that really means nothing to me in the big scheme of things. Just like that - one simple little text about a newborn life - turned my entire day around!
I went to the hospital later that afternoon to see the baby and man, is he cute! I love him! And it reminded me of when my kids were born - and how the instant you see their little face you are in love - immediately - the wave of love and adoration rushes over you and you're hooked for life. And how, when the second child arrived, I worried that I would not be able to love that child the way I loved the first child, because it didn't seem possible to me to love two beings as much as you loved one. I stressed over it for countless hours. But the minute I laid eyes on her, I was in love. And then I worried that the love I had for my first, had somehow been transferred to the second, until I saw them together for the first time and it was overwhelmingly amazing - I loved them both - equally and with more depth than I had ever imagined possible. By the time I had the third one, I was less concerned about this transfer of love thing because I knew I would love this child like I loved the others and that my love for her would not, in any way, cause my love for the first two to diminish. And I was right.
But time passes and children grow and they develop annoying habits like smacking their lips when they eat, leaving messes everywhere they go, breaking your shit, arguing, yelling, rebeling in their own way and so on and so forth. And you become frustrated with the process and ask yourself daily WHY DO I PUT UP WITH THIS SHIT? When I saw my nephew at only 5 hours old, I was flashed back to each one of my kids' birth days - and the emotions I felt on each of those days came back to me like it was yesterday - the wave of love, hope, optimism - total euphoria - and THAT is why I put up with this shit from them now. Because those feelings I felt the first day never went away - they just get pushed to the back and over shadowed by the day to day happenings of raising kids - namely those of the teen genre.
I'd like to think that I've been a good mother to my three kids - even though I go about things a little differently than my cousin. She always finds the positive in things and focuses on that and choosing to ignore the bad or negative aspects. I think her attitude is admirable and a few times I've tried her approach to life. Ignoring the blatant bullshit, choosing not to focus on it and instead steering my energy to the positive. It felt forced and unnatural to me. And also, it hurt. I felt incomplete. See, my personality dictates that I must take the bullshit that I'm dealt and turn IT into a funny story - THAT is how I deal with the nonsense part of life. (Which is actually the part that causes us to grow and learn and love life more). I'm not really over here just bitching, nor am I bitchy and nasty and hateful and also I do not carry a great disdain for life. I take the obvious (the bullshit) and turn it into something funny - something that makes me laugh - something that makes others laugh - and if, by doing that, I can make ONE person laugh each day - then I'm happy.
This is how I've always dealt with life - finding ways to laugh at myself or the situation that is affecting me. I've transferred this on to my kids also which makes me quite proud actually. I remember when they were younger and they would have struggles - you know how kids are - it's new and they didn't know life was going to be full of forks in the road and that not everyone is nice and that not every teacher is on their side, and so on and so forth and they were devastated. Or maybe they fell down in public, good Lord, the world has ended - they've been humiliated. Well, I quickly taught them to laugh at themselves or the situation - turn it into something to be amused by. And they've all learned that - even the 7 year old.
Do we always go about life in this house laughing? No. Sometimes there are tears - sometimes you have to grieve a situation before you can buck up and deal with it. Or sometimes the frustration is so overwhelming that the rage inside of you comes out in the form of tears. We deal with it, we grieve, we scream, we cry, then someone cracks a joke about the matter and pretty soon we're all laughing. And from that, we've bonded and we've experienced joy. Joy in having one another. Joy in being a family. Joy in having and being offered unconditional love.
This morning when I got up, I walked past my 14 year old's room - and there she was in her bed, along with her friend that spent the night. They looked so grown up and it seems like only yesterday she was that newborn baby that brought me renewed hope. I went outside to see what cars were here and as I perused the drive and took inventory of the cars that belong to my son's friends - I felt joy - joy in the fact we provide a home where others feel welcome and comfortable, joy that I know where my 17 year old is and joy that I knew who each one of the cars belonged to. Joy that somehow I've figured out the balance of being "in" my son's life at a stage where he's likely pushing me out, yet not too far "in" that he doesn't want to be around us.
Then I walked back into the house, and it was, of course, a shit hole of a mess, but I didn't even mind - I don't care - I need to clean it and I'm excited to clean it this morning because my new baby nephew is coming to see me today!!! And I don't want him looking around thinking the place is a shit hole, I want him to look around and think, "man - this place is GREAT! I'm coming back here ALL the time!" (that's what 4 day old babies think about, you know).
So you see my dear cousin who finds joy in operating the dishwasher, it's not that I am joyless - I just don't see the need to emote joy over a dishwasher. Cleaning, dish washing, laundry, grocery shopping, these are all necessary tasks that I must contend with to keep this household running. And I do them all, somedays with less effort and bitching than others, but no. I do not find joy in them and I never will. And I will not pretend I ever do.