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There was a time when I was not capable of being happy for others, particularly when they were expecting a baby. I tried my best and pretended I could be happy for them, but I was so darn broken inside it wasn’t possible to feel anything other than pity for myself. I couldn’t see beyond my own pain.
In hindsight, I can now see I went through a period of serious depression. It lasted about two years following our miscarriage. I felt very little emotion, least of all happiness or joy for others.
I’m so relieved to discover that this has changed. I can congratulate others for their accomplishments in an authentic way. I can be genuinely happy when I learn of a girlfriend’s pregnancy, or when I meet a new work acquaintance who says she’s just back from maternity leave.
This past weekend, I nearly shocked myself when I found myself hugging and kissing our friends’ kids. It was completely spontaneous and joyful, but sadly, I’d never done that before. I wasn’t capable.
The whole notion of happiness is an interesting one. As children we are taught to strive for whatever we want and it is implied that we shouldn’t be happy until we achieve it. We see what others around us have and assume they are happier. We believe that filling a certain void will solve all problems and automatically make us happy.
It’s not necessarily true. I’ve discovered some scary truths about being a first-time mom and trying to maintain a solid marriage. I don’t know if other mothers talk about this, but I want to say, for the record, our first year with baby, while one of the most joyous events of my life, also brought immense misery at times.
I’m referring mostly to my marriage. We’d managed to hold things together throughout the bumpy ride – and therapy certainly helped us see the important work we had to do to continue to honour each other and not let resentment get the best of us.
But the therapy stopped not long before our daughter surprised us with her presence. We haven’t been back. I remember the therapist saying, “You will be parents one day and I hope you’ll continue to come see me then, because there will still be issues you’ll need to work through, including parenting an adopted child.”
Boy, was she right. It’s been a tough road. I don’t think either of us know what the root of our problem truly is. We ignore it until it explodes, then we acknowledge it and try to change. Then it creeps back up. Repeat.
I want to fix it but I don’t know how. How do we get back to happy? How can I be so deliriously happy to be a mother and so fed up with my husband at the same time? It’s really frustrating.
In other news, we’re meeting with birthmother today!
Yes, I swiped the title. I know you probably already know this blog, but if you don’t, you need to visit it soon and bookmark it.
I’ve been reading Enjoying the Small Things for a little over a year, and while I’ve got a list of about 20 fave blogs I love, Kelle Hampton’s grab-the-world-by-the-horns-and-ride attitude has completely catapulted ETST to the top of my list.
I’m not normally one to gush, but I promise you Kelle’s writing, photography and music selections will make you laugh, cry (a lot) and inspire you to be the best you can be, especially if you’re a parent.
I feel particularly fortunate to have found this blog around the same time I became a Mama. After dealing with infertility and waiting to adopt for what seemed like an eternity, I’m certain I’d lost some of my passion for life. I started the journey toward parenthood with fire in my belly – I knew I was going to be a great mother – and had big plans.
But the waiting, loss and heartbreak can dull even the most optimistic person’s world. I knew this almost immediately after our daughter arrived. There was a different light in the sky; the colours around me became vibrant again; things even tasted and smelled better. I started living, again.
And as if on cue, ETST came into my life and reminded me I needed to ramp things up a bit – to take photos wherever I go (although I think I had that one covered), to add more colour to our home and our lives and to have FUN no matter what.
Kelle – if you read this, I’m eternally grateful.
Six baby girls in Easter dresses had an egg hunt outside. It was simply adorable – and freezing cold.
My baby was shy about picking up the eggs and genuinely surprised as she opened them to discover Little People inside.
She was also thoughtful, allowing a friend to reach for an egg that was right in front of them both. Mommy was proud.
Throughout the year I have tried to really absorb what’s happened to us. While lots of photos help me remember after the fact, I do try to live in the present.
Step back. Observe. Appreciate the scene in front of me.
Enjoying the small things is a skill, I’ve come to realize; one that needs sharpening if you’re to do it well. If you aren’t one of those people who sucks the marrow out of each moment, worry not! You can learn to do this too. Or, if you’re like me and suddenly realize your zest for life disappeared while you suffered, I’m happy to tell you it can return really quickly. All you have to do is start.