Does winter finally get to everyone? It seems funny to say, since we’ve been having the mildest winter in, well, forever. No ice on the road, no snow emergencies, no days off school, no worrying that you’re going to get frostbite waiting for the bus… so why am I still yearning for spring? Why has every week become The Longest Week of My Life? I can’t tell if it’s winter or something else.
I’ve taken to spending my evenings lying prostrate on the couch, wrapped in an electric blanket, the only thing emanating from its folds an occasional deep sigh. This funk isn’t a good thing, because I live in a collective little organism, you know. Each of our seven members deeply affect the others, especially when you live in a bungalow the size of a shoe. And as the mom, my moods carry more weight than the others.
There’s been a lot of research in the past few years, documenting how we influence each other. I remember once hearing an interview where they asserted that a predictor of fitness was having fit person living on your block- whether you knew them or not. This was borne out in a podcast I listened to recently on the effects of having a positive, happy attitude. They spoke of a research project which animated the effects of a person’s actions on the social networks around them. Basically, the premise was that any action would act as a pebble tossed into a lake and they were attempting to map the ripples that result. What they found instead was that any one action results in patterns akin to tossing an entire handful of gravel into the water; that we are so interconnected our attitudes, words and actions literally explode onto the world around us.
I really need to get off the couch.
How many times have I been told that I need to take time for myself? How many relationship experts staunchly advise couples to make the time for a weekly date? How many cheesy motivational posters have been printed urging us all to “take time to smell the roses.” By and large, I (and I’m guessing many of you) pooh-pooh such notions because there isn’t any time, good lord, or money or energy or… or… Plus, there is a big part of me, anyways, that just thinks of such things as being downright selfish and self-indulgent. I like to power through my days, dang nabbit. There is so much to do! Productivity uber alles! Except then I end up here, on the couch.
Here’s the thing; the number one thing I wish with all my heart is that my kids are happy. Happy now and happy as adults. I don’t know of one parent who would say anything different. (I also wish they would develop common sense and an aversion to causing their long-suffering mother distress, but I’ll settle for happy.) As it turns out one of the best things I could possibly do to further that desire is to tend to my own happiness.
You know, Hubby and I are super committed to modeling responsibility to the kids. Responsibility and kindness and empathy and hard work and gratitude. But happiness? I don’t think it’s ever really occurred to me.
Yesterday was hard. Haaaaaard. Nearly every child in this house lost their ever-lovin’ minds at the same time. It was a “beat your head against the wall, pass me the whole box-o-wine” sort of day. This morning, I kissed them all, affirmed that it would be a better day, skipped the gym and took myself out to breakfast… because ain’t nothing in this world that makes me happier than playing hooky.
It isn’t much, but it isn’t the couch.