Would you want your kids to be happy all the time? I’ve realised, I wouldn’t. It’s official. I am horrid.
I pondered last week what aspirations I have for our kids. I initially thought that anything that made them happy might suffice. On the back of that post, I received a pingback from a lovely post by Julia & Julla . Her blog made me think about happiness as a state of mind, rather than a goal to be achieved. And I started to wonder if I would always choose my state of mind to be ‘happy’.
There was a time in my life – mid to late twenties – where my life looked like it might not pan out so great. A favourite grandparent died suddenly. My fiancé had an affair. I had to cancel our wedding with 4 weeks notice. My job was killing me. I was broke. Our house was half way through a massive rebuild, which meant I could walk out on nothing. It was hard. But in retrospect I am fond of that melancholy period. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely all a bit shit, but I don’t regret having those experiences, or the melancholy that came with them.
I then got to thinking about a great little exercise that will be familiar to many: that of asking yourself the question,
If you could swallow a pill that would make you really happy for the rest of your life, would you take it?
I am guessing the drug isn’t illegal, doesn’t cause kidney failure and doesn’t cause mass suffering to 3rd world countries who grow the Happy Drug rather than food (although, if they popped the pill, what would they care if they were starving?)
I digress, the point is that I decided when I was 20 that I would not want that pill. And I have decided now that I wouldn’t want my kiddies to have it either. Why?
First off, let’s take away the obvious challenge of, if you are always happy, being able to rape, pillage and murder without but a care. Let’s assume the pill doesn’t let us do that.
Let’s assume that we are pootling along, and the pill ensures day to day events don’t get us down: it’s raining – yippee, I love my wellies; the oven breaks on Christmas day – yeay, a Christmas BBQ sounds soooo exciting; our beloved has an affair- I suppose the trust in our relationship has broken down, but hey, I admire his spirit ; our sibling gets really ill – that what does not kill us makes us stronger; our child dies….to still feel happy? I’m not sure some of this is working for me.
In something as awful as losing a child to death, a loved one to another person, or even just all of our worldy ‘stuff’, I think I would want to feel something other than happiness. And there must be many other instances you can think of like this. Sometimes, for me, experiencing the human condition with all of its ups and downs is more desirable than just being happy.
Just a few moments ago I stumbled upon another blog. I am trying to make my blog look more appealing (tips please!!!) and I got pointed to this one. http://jayjayne.com/2013/09/11/speaking-of-depression/ It looks FAB but also has a great current post.
In the post, Jayjayne is talking about depression. I am clearly not tackling the clinical issue of depression in this post. But still, a quote in her blog resonates:
“Now this is all going to sound corny and slightly ludicrous, but this is honestly what I’ve learnt – firstly, just as there is light there is shadow, where there’s sadness there will always be happiness. Secondly, when you can admit fault or weakness, it can only make you stronger”
I want night and day, I want the pain of labour to experience the pleasure of birth, I want to fail so I can become stronger, I want to know what it is like to not have much so I can appreciate the times of plenty. I want the same for my sons (not the giving birth bit. That would be weird).
Not only do I want my sons to be equipped with an ability to identify which paths are the ‘good’ paths, I want them to be equipped to decide when it is best to choose the harder route, over the more comfortable one. I want them to be strong enough to make it to the end of some of the tougher journeys. When they get lost, I want them to come back stronger.
If they get hurt, of course I want to ease their suffering. But eliminate it entirely and replace it with unquestionning happiness? No.
Eventually the boys will walk their path with others, or alone. Before that we will be there to guide them now and again. Right now the boys are small. We are not so much guiding them towards the road we think most suitable, but carrying them up the roads we choose for ourselves. I’m not sure I know where we are going but while we might not always be happy, I’ve got a feeling we might be on the right route.