Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dear Scientists

I recently read an article in which the research outcome was that becoming parents makes people less happy.  No, I don't have a link to this article.  No, I can't remember where I read it.  And, in fairness, though I read it recently, it could have been a very old article.  I read a lot of hand-me-down magazines.

My point is this: I disagree.  I would agree if the scientists had used the word "stressed".  Having children has added significant stress (and gray hair; I always thought that was just a saying but seems true in my case) to my life.  I worry about my child's development, her feelings, my capability to meet her needs.  I worry about paying attention to my marriage as well as my role as a parent.  I worry about her future, both the world she will grow into and the choices she will make.  I worry about the possibility of dying young and leaving her with someone other than us to raise her.  I worry.

But am I less happy?  I'm no scientist, but I would argue that "happy" is something each of us would define very differently.  Not only is it an individual idea, but it changes for each of us depending on the time in our lives in which we define it.  Ten years ago, happiness was heading out for a beer with my then-fiance while in Massachusetts for a visit.  Five years ago, happiness was remodeling our little kitchen in our old house.

The key to our happiness, in my mind, is to change our expectations as our situations change.  I know a lot of people who vow that life will be no different once they have children.  Those people are fooling themselves and probably are less happy once the children come.  For me, I embraced the fact that my life would be different with children.  If it wouldn't, then why bother having them?

Before having children, sometimes the idea of kids would scare me and I would think: "What will I do when it's not all about me anymore?"  Once I had children, I thought: "Oh, thank God, it's not all about me anymore!"  I found it very freeing.  Which isn't to say that I am not frustrated by something involved in parenting daily.  Some days I am overwhelmed.  But I am happy.  Being a mom is the best job I have had yet.

For me, the love of having a family has brought me more happiness than any of the self-serving things I did before having children.  I am glad I waited until I was older to have kids.  I was lucky enough to have lots of time to be selfish and inquisitive and silly and fun.   I am glad I had all of the time I did when I was young to explore and make mistakes and have successes in lots of way. But I am really glad to be right here, too.

So, for those scientists who are wondering, here are some moments of what happy looks like to me today:  seeing The Nugget's hands waving over her head in the rearview mirror as she sings and dances along with her children's music.  Sitting down as a family for any meal.  Listening to what was once baby babble become more and more intelligible upon waking.  Hearing The Nugget say her ABC's.  Watching the world of pretend open up for my daughter.  A stolen day at the bookstore with The Mister.  Smelling The Nuggets clean, soft hair as I rock her good night and sing "Baby Mine" at her request.

Right here, right now = happy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Holiday Hoopla

Well, December just about killed me and I was unable to post at all.  We had a lot of fun mixed in with some good old fashioned gnashing of teeth.  The Mister and I spent our month buying gifts and dragging The Nugget from one event to the next. 

We made our first visit to see Santa, something I didn't do last year as she was only nine months old and I didn't think it mattered but then regretted because it seemed I was the only parent on Earth who didn't think it was important at that age.  This year, there was a fresh out of the womb baby right in front of us.  I'm pretty sure the mother had given birth at the beginning of the line.  I missed the memo that this was so important at such a young age.  No doubt The Nugget will be scarred for life due to not having met Santa until she was nearly two years old. 

I, on the other hand, will be scarred for life due to having to visit Santa with my child at all.  First, The Mister has been working crazy hours as his job requires of him during the holiday season.  Therefore, trying to plan any family event while allowing the man to get at least a modicum of sleep has been a true challenge.  Normally when approaching an event which I know will be hellish (read: busy, long lines, lots of people), I plan accordingly and arrive before opening of said event so that we can get in and get out.  Not so this time with The Mister's need for sleep and all.  As it was, I had to wake him after only about four hours of sleep in order to drag him to see Santa.

So, we arrived one hour into Santa's reign.  You might well be able to imagine that the line was as long as it possibly could be without going out the door.  To make the wait even more hellish, loud Christmas music was being pumped in over top of the millions ( I know it was that many if not more) of screaming children.  Plus they had turned the heat in the area up to the inferno level.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate a crowd more than just about anything in the world, let alone a loud, hot and slow-moving one.  I think we waited in line about thirty million years, or an hour, whichever came first.  Anyway, we finally made it up to see the sweaty, fat man.  Needless to say The Nugget was a bit cranky by the time we got up there and was none too sure about this Santa character.  We put her in his lap and she gave us her best wary look.  It was the closest thing to a smile we could muster.  The best part of this picture is the look on Santa's face.  He seems to be just as unsure about The Nugget as she is about him.  Look how he's only holding her with one finger like she's contaminated or something!

Okay, frick!  This blog is called Less Than Perfect for a reason.  Yes, it's sideways!  

Anyway, we lived to tell about the hellish trip.  Then it was on to Christmas with all of the various family factions (children of divorce, can I get a holla).  She actually made it through them with an overall good attitude and only melted down for bed times.  I cannot complain.

Except...she did develop a fairly severe "Frosty the Snowman" addiction during the season.  While at our house, she wanted to watch the video daily.  Then, she received an audio book from her aunt telling the story as she read it.  AND a dancing, singing Frosty doll.  If we weren't watching the video we were reading the book, singing the song or playing with the doll.  Don't get me wrong, I love Frosty as much as anyone.  But I don't want to mainline Frosty all day every day.  Needless to say, I packed up all Frosty paraphenalia as soon as was practicable and have sent The Nugget to rehab with Dora the Explorer.  Dora is to Frosty what Methadone is to Heroin.

Now we are on to 2011.  It will be a big year in which our baby turns 2.  But I will cry about that later.  For now, we wish you a thumpety thump thump thump, um, happy new year!