In 2016, the year after my eldest was born, I became quite interested in the topic of happiness.
I suppose part of it stemmed from the letdown of discovering that being a parent didn’t complete me the way I had brainwashed myself to believe it would when I was pregnant.
I don’t know where I picked up the idea that being a parent would make me happy, but it did not take one full night for me to realize that I got sold a bill of goods. There is something irresistible about the idea of a warm little package of cuddly goodness who would look just like my indulgent husband as he grew. Then there is the crying, smelly, sleepless reality.
That being said, I did decide to have a second one. Humans are strange.
After the first trimester with my second scalawag, I was knocked out with pre-natal depression. Or maybe it was post-partum depression after the first scalawag. Who knows exactly, since the definitions are fluid and the symptoms are identical.
I started looking into the topic of happiness, discovering Gretchen Rubin and her book, The Happiness Project in the process. Being a project person myself, the idea that happiness might be a project to undertake gave me a little light in my darkness.
I was motivated enough by what I read that I determined to create my own Happiness Project. At seven months pregnant, I fan-mailed Gretchen Rubin. To my delight, Gretchen Rubin wrote back!!!!!! (Note to self: one day if you have fans, make sure you write back. It can change their life!)
In her book, Gretchen Rubin identified areas of her life in which she wanted to be happier and spent one month through the course of year concentrating on each one of the areas.
To design my own Happiness Project, I needed to define what areas of my life I wanted to work on. They were not going to be the same as Gretchen Rubin, because I am me, not her. I left this as an open question while I gave birth and settled into my life as a parent to two scalawags.
I already had figured out that I couldn’t buy happiness. I knew that happiness was not something that could be given to me.
Now I had learned that it could not be found in another person, even a second little eight-pound bundle of promise to whom I gave birth, who looked exactly like me and who slept like a champion.
Was I incapable of happiness?