Of course, I’m still over here ruminating on the subject of joy.
Incidentally, I probably shouldn’t have used the word ruminating in the previous sentence, but it does allow me to show off something interesting I learned about psychology this week: Rumination on meta-thoughts, that is, thoughts about our thoughts is found more frequently in young people who suffer from depression. Proof that overthinking is not good for our mental health.
But I’m not necessarily ruminating on my thoughts, nor am I young. So please don’t be worried about me. I do wallow in my thoughts with the best of them, but that is neither here nor there. Right now, we are still talking about joy.
This week, as I mentioned previously, our mask mandate was dropped. So I was discovering people differently this week.
There is an assistant in my youngest scalawag’s class who…I don’t know how to say this exactly, but…I just hadn’t gotten a good vibe from her since the beginning of the year. I had this feeling from the few nods we had exchanged that she didn’t like us.
I know that sounds stupid, but I am always concerned about how my youngest child’s behavior, which is painfully outgoing to say the least, and unpredictable to say the worst, and always difficult to explain, is going to be perceived. And obviously, I obsess over how his enthusiasm and unpredictability are going to reflect on me as a parent, something about which I am terrifically insecure.
We have friends who had had children in this class before mine was there, and they only had the most wonderful things to say about this lady and because I trust them, I tried very very hard to shove the garbage can lid over my thoughts. It’s just me. It’s just me. It’s just me. I failed very hard at my endeavor to keep that rat in the garbage can.
Well, as it turns out, it was just me.
She was one of the people I absolutely did not recognize without a mask. She was so different…so much kinder looking…without the mask. And when our eyes met and she smiled her sweet smile, I realized how wrong I had been.
(An incidental and very good example of why rumination is such a harmful thing. I let this stupid insecurity get in the way and needle around in me for months, when I literally only had half the information I needed.)
Because she looked so kind, and because my youngest child had been awake since 3:30AM (oh yes. he was.) I dared give her a little fair warning that he might be a little more unpredictable than usual.
And she said, “He is so charming. We just love him around here. And even when he is unpredictable, we know he has a good heart, and the kids know it, too.”
And can I tell you what I promptly did? I started to cry.
Of course I did. Because joy ambushed me.
It’s like when, a few weeks ago I got my first unpremeditated hug in two years and I promptly cried. I cried myself to sleep over that hug.
Or when my husband sent a very kind text message about the work I’ve been doing on the podcast. I cried. And I cried every single time that week when I reread the text message.
All this time I thought joy would be like a party horn, or fireworks.
But it’s actually a very very quiet thing. It is a sneaky little thing that, apparently, enjoys reaching into our places of greatest need and squeezing just a little bit, crushing our doubts one by one and releasing a tiny amount of joy, one tear at a time.