What, Exactly, Is Happiness?

Rice pudding bowl

Rice pudding bowl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought the  rice pudding that my husband bought me from the diner would make me happy but it just made me feel momentarily content. Twice. Now, there’s only one small portion left from the giant trough that he brought home on Sunday night. One, huge, tub of home-made rice pudding, the Reddi Whip had already melted, making it look like a floating swan on water, peaceful, gliding, making no trouble at all. A sensory satisfaction of taste.

It appeared to be a raisin and cinnamon revolution. Rice pudding with no raisins and no cinnamon? I was briefly unnerved but it was so tasty, rich, sweet and creamy that I really couldn’t complain. Tonight, the last night, I added my own raisins and cinnamon. For my tasting pleasure, now it is gone.

I need strength to feel settled tonight. I’m scared, there are just too many potential problems for too many people going on in the next three months. I’m much better when the time is NOW than weeks ahead of time but inside I know I am freaking out. Trembling as my bones quiver from the inside out, shaking so that anyone who knows me can see.

Too many people I love are sick at the same time. I am feeling at an all time low, physically and emotionally. My shoulders ache, the pain in my back still digs into me, not letting go or it moves to surprise me, to the side. Poke, Stab, Poke. Winter, does not just weigh heavily on the branches of the naked tree limbs but also on my tightened shoulders that lock in place; it takes hours for the heating pad to barely loosen them. I’ve tried the steamy hot baths, bath salts…nothing helps.

Maybe, I should just give up on Winter. This year, I was promised that I  could go to someplace warm to soothe my aching bones and muscles, and again, another lay off. No one’s fault. It’s just the way the world works these days. Trust no one. You are not safe.

Protect Yourself.

What is happiness, anyway?

It’s elusive.

A distant memory, aging photographs, some distinct thoughts of the past. Maybe it’s age or money or just a state of mind. I can’t seem to see it at the moment….

If I don’t have it, it doesn’t mean I don’t want YOU to have it, it just makes me a little sad to see those with luck, get luckier and those who are down on their luck, stay there and go deeper under the icy cold, black abyss.

My real friends understand, I don’t need to tell them I am hurting, they know. Or, if I mumble a quick “fine” or “I’m good” they will look into my eyes, the pathway to my soul and understand. THEY don’t look away. They stick with me through all days.

True Friendship.

True Friendship=Happiness

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Leaving Us, Lost

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Children will always leave you, from the minute you cut the umbilical cord until the day that you take your last gasp of air. When your child is born you are swept away with joy. Is it a boy, a girl?  You cuddle that dear baby close to your body and cover its head with sweet, soft kisses. Your life has now changed forever. You try to inhale the smells and remember them. Unfortunately, like everything else, we hold precious in our hearts, memories fade.

Babies turn into toddlers and their first independent steps they take away from you are greeted with great excitement and applause.”She’s walking!!” we say proudly to anyone who will listen but we don’t think about this as a step of independence, we are merely celebrating a milestone in our brilliant child’s life.

I can say, with confidence, that as much as you want that uninterrupted night of sleep, it comes with a price. You will miss those sticky grilled cheese hands and arms around your neck and those sloppy grape jelly kisses a lot when they stop. One day you are swinging hands in public, the next your child is muttering “that’s embarrassing.” and they pull away. The rules have changed, your children have changed, now you have to change, quickly.

Childhood is so important and then comes middle school and high school when your children are tweens and teenagers. Groan, I know. It is important for them to grow up and for you to let them. You will go through, as my husband called it “the teenage tunnel of darkness” hang on tight, folks, it will be a bumpy ride. The arguments, slammed doors, taunting, fighting, will probably make you feel like you wish you had the money to send your kids to boarding school, but they need to go through this to become independent and their own person. This is their way of leaving their comfort zone, by fighting and doing things you probably don’t even want to know about and they will lie as well. Your kid? Never! I said that too. Believe me, I don’t condone this behavior, but it smacked me in the face. Once, when I asked my son how he would describe high school he said : high school is one big lie.” I will never forget that. Ever. I was so stunned that I was speechless. Wrong time to be speechless, believe me.

I am grateful that my two young adults, 18 and 20 are so independent and comfortable with other adults.  For that, I thank the strong sense of confidence we instilled in our children and sleep-away camp. Our children begged to go to sleep-away camp where their cousins went, we agreed to give it a try. They LOVED it and so did we. When it came to college, it was easier, for all of us, having been separated before.

How we feel doesn’t matter in this equation anymore. It’s true and we need to accept it. My husband and I like being alone, together. It reminds us of the days before children without all the anxiety and stress. Staying home and watching television is date night, we don’t feel the need to go out, we can relax at home. Our babies are not babies anymore, they are young adults. Do we miss the love that they used to show us? Yes, I know I do. Things change, we have no choice but to adjust. It is not always easy; sometimes it takes a little longer than it should and yes, sometimes I cry in private.  Children will always have you in their hearts but they will leave to find and follow their own lives. When they leave, they are looking forwards to their new lives which leaves us, their parents, looking backwards for sweet memories.

The Object Of Being Left

Dandelion gone to seed.

Image via Wikipedia

I sprayed after shave cologne on my wrists today, it was an old bottle with maybe an inch of liquid left inside it. I found it at my mother’s home, in an abandoned bathroom drawer, where she had hidden it after my father died. They were three odd-shaped bottles left, pushed back in a drawer like teenagers hiding beer or vodka. I took those almost empty bottles home with me and today I used one. The smell was so powerful and so familiar that tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I longed to see my father wearing his  soft plain purple and blue striped shirt and feel his  arms hugging me. I willed it to happen, almost believing it and then reality took over and left me alone with a sharp pain in my heart. I miss the one person in our family who knew me best with just a faint wink of an eye or a hint of a smile. I felt lost; I felt alone.

My dad died ten years ago and I don’t feel this way all the time but the pain goes away completely. I can feel fine for weeks or months and then some memory, a scent, the sight of his old shirt crumpled up in my closet will remind me harshly of my loss. When one is young no one tells you about all the pain you have ahead of you. When you are young you think you want to be grown-up and mature but you have no idea what that really feels like. There are times when it never feels good, not even for half of a single second of any one day.

I went grocery shopping today and met a friend whose son just graduated with my son. We talked about how their graduation from High School was hitting us both hard and in unexpected times and places. She said that once in a while she has to pull off on the side of the road to just cry and then, as if nothing happened, she puts her turn signal  back on and continue her journey. I have been on that road too. While I was in the grocery store I passed water guns and felt that same feeling of loss, I wanted to cry but I wouldn’t let myself. I thought about my son and his friends and the water gun fights, one tiny water gun pistol still sitting in the back of our old, big family car, moving from one side of the car to the other.

I came home and marched up the stairs to get to my room, as fast as I could hobble, to reach for my computer and for a bunch of tissues from a yellow box. The color yellow comforts me; it makes me feel happier. I thought about my son, who is a Counselor, away at camp. He left a week ago; I feel bereft. I don’t want to call him, though eventually I will. I’d rather wait to hear his voice on the phone, starting off with the same low-key “Hey.”I am being widely immature and over emotional, part of me knows that. He is not making the transition from home to camp to college easy for me. I wonder, if at college, will he forget about us as much? When he is at camp, his second home, we really do not exist and while I am proud of my independent son, today I feel sad and lonely. Here I am, at home, opening up the window of his musty room, surrounded by half eaten boxes of cookies. Pain, like accumulated  laundry that sits in the middle of his blue carpet, taunts me.