On needs, sick days, and happiness.
April 05, 2012

Over the past, er, thirty-two months and change, I have found that my happiness as a parent and a woman is contingent upon a few factors.

I need to feel GOOD about my relationships – with Charlotte, with Donald, with my friends and family.  I need to feel that my parenting choices are supported by my family and my friends and that my opinions are respected, if not always agreed upon.  I need to feel that people in my life LIKE to and WANT to spend time with me, with my husband, and with my daughter.  I need to feel like my family is progressing toward the life that we want.

I need to spend time outside, usually two or more hours each day.  I need to feel productive and appreciated.  I need to eat healthy food, do at least one thing to work up a sweat, and to feel positive about my overall health.  I need my home to be clean and comfortable.  I need to feel financially secure.  I need to brush my teeth.  I need to engage in regular conversations with other adults.  I need my friends to have an awesome sense of humor – and I need our friendships to be easy and reliable.  I need an hour or two of silence a week to just sit down and read a book.

They sound like obvious things, but it’s easy to neglect one and if I do, the whole circus show comes tumbling down.  If I have a conflict with a friend or relative, my marriage suffers while I devote extra time to fixing whatever I fucked up.  If I spend too much time indoors or my home makes me feel like a slob, I usually end up in tears.  If I don’t have time to read, my quality of parenting suffers because all I can think about is getting away.

Yesterday was a particularly rough day because I was ill (I’m feeling much better today, but still not 100%).  My nose was stuffed up, my stomach ached, and my head throbbed all.day.long.

I am probably the very worst sick person you have ever met.  I’m one of those melodramatic, short-tempered, and generally-worth-avoiding types who thinks a migraine is akin to the apocalypse.  It is always when I am ill – when I don’t get outside and maybe don’t brush my teeth, when I don’t feel productive or like a nurturing mother, when every shortcoming in my life (yesterday: the mess in the playroom) seems exaggerated tenfold – that I wonder if ALL THIS is really worth it.

Then I wake up a day or two later and I feel healthy again.  My problems feel manageable and I feel empowered to make what I want in my life.  I shower Charlotte with attention and we picnic in the sun.  I call a friend or schedule a playdate.  I shower and pick a thought-provoking book to read.  And by the end of the day, I know that I am happy in this life and that the answer is yes.

Undeniably YES.

** Charlotte is two years and eight months old.

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  1. By on April 05, 2012

    I hope you feel 100% soon! I really appreciate how you manage to put things like this into words-a list of what you need to feel like you. My family has been on a bit of a roller coater ride recently and I think this exercise would be really helpful for me.

    I have enjoyed reading here since close to the beginning but recently in particular your writing has really resonated with me. I live the thoughtfulness and intention that you bring to parenting, food, life all with a lightness and great sense of humor!  Thanks!

  2. By on April 05, 2012

    I am much older than you (40’s), yet often find you teaching me something I had somehow not figured out on my own.  I have been blessed with wonderful kids but sometimes wish I could have a do-over.  I guess we all have “those” days and if I could start again from the beginning, I’d probably still have times when i wasn’t fully present.  I appreciate your honesty.

  3. By Alicia S. on April 05, 2012

    This is so true.

  4. By Alicia S. on April 05, 2012

    This is so spot on.

  5. By on April 05, 2012

    Oh, I hear you Mama. Those days used to come quite frequently while I was in my haze. They’re few and far between, so far… And that makes me feel happy and accomplished.

    It feels good to feel like you made a difference at the end of your day.

  6. By Jadzia@Toddlerisms on April 06, 2012

    It is very tough when you’ve got a lot of balls in the air, as most mamas do.  I’m guilty of that kind of black-and-white thinking too—especially while in the throes of a migraine.  We’re so fortunate to have people in our lives who love us enough to look past those moments.

  7. By Maricris @ SittingAround on April 08, 2012

    Oh, Sarah, I feel for you. I hope you get better soon.





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