My friend Meriah wrote about happiness today: Happy-Making: Goals for 2013 and What Happy People Do. Interestingly, I was sitting in the rocking chair earlier this morning, nursing Scarlett, and musing about happiness. Meriah’s post has spurred me to try to find words for the thoughts and feelings that float around in my head.
I’ve been short on happiness of late. There are a whole lot of reasons behind this: my marriage has taken some major hits over the last couple of years (which I have not written about; maybe someday I will), and although we’ve come a long way toward recovery, things still often feel tenuous and raw; and that is, of course, compounded by a plethora of much more mundane things, like the stress of raising so many kids, and what very well may be some sort of midlife crisis on my part.
Depression is no stranger to me; I’ve struggled with it since childhood. I don’t know if I’m depressed right now – like, clinically, diagnosably depressed. It’s not that I can’t function, or even that I don’t find enjoyment in things or sometimes laugh until my sides ache. I’ve just noticed that a vague feeling of melancholy seems to have descended on me. Milestones like holidays and my kids’ birthdays leave me pining for days gone by, because I feel like it’s all going way too fast, it’s all just slipping away from me. I feel like I’m floundering; I wonder who I am – am I more than just a cleaner up of messes, a server of food, a folder of laundry, a disciplinarian? I feel very conflicted: I am living the life, immersed in motherhood, that I dreamed of for years, and yet . . . I don’t feel as fulfilled as I think I should feel, and that makes me feel guilty. I’m inarguably middle-aged, and I feel like I’m caught in some sort of weird limbo: the mother of an infant on the one hand (at a time when I’m technically old enough to be a grandmother!), and having morbid thoughts about aging on the other hand.
And there may or may not be something postpartum going on. Or there may or may not be something pre-menopausal going on. There’s definitely something PMS going on.
I don’t know what the answers are. My tenacious inner voice says, “You just have to ride it out, lady. You just have to keep on keeping on.” That’s what I’ve done all my life.
Today is Kevin’s sixteenth birthday. (That is definitely having an effect on my emotions.) It’s bittersweet to have my firstborn so close to adulthood. I feel like I’m running out of time with him, and I have a lot of doubts about how well I’ve spent these years mothering him. I feel like I’ve squandered a lot of time – not purposely, but, you know, it’s just so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of things and let the things that will matter for the long run fall by the wayside. Did I read enough stories to him? Have I hugged him enough? Have I sheltered him too much, or not enough? Does he feel good about himself?
I could use some happy.