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Being Happy

A few weeks back I posted an article to facebook in which the author argues that people without children are happier than those with them. I think that happiness is relative. I know many people with children who are incredibly happy and just as many without that seem content with their lives. I also know some Eeyores who are the same curmudgeons post-baby as they were before having kids. Happiness comes from within, not from external factors like kids, money, job, etc. How can someone make such a sweeping assumption about happiness? Who is to say that childless people are happier? I can't answer that.

What I do know is that little things make people with kids really happy. For example, my heart just pounds with pride when I see Charlotte toddle down the hallway carrying her dirty diaper. I would also categorize my emotion as "happy" when Caroline decided to cut her cupcake in half tonight rather than shove the entire chunk into her mouth. What I also know about parents is that time away from the kids, while difficult, is awesome. And, our expectations are so low that, again, it's the little things that rate high on our happy-o-meter.

Earlier this week, the three of us (me, Andy and his Blackberry) took a mini-vacation to Corning, NY. The grandmas held down the fort, the weather was snow-free and we had forty-eight hours all to ourselves. The vacation started immediately upon getting into the car. We could listen to music of our choosing and carry on a conversation without being interrupted. We stopped at Wegman's, also known as the best grocery store ever, and I nearly skipped around the store with my basket, picking out baked goods and lazily browsing the aisles. Around us were lots of parents with children in tow, navigating the cart-with-car-attached, kid half hanging out and shrieking. We got lunch in their deli and slowly enjoyed our meals. And we didn't get up once the entire time we ate.

The rest of the trip was just as simple. We stayed at mid-level hotels (er, ok the second night we stayed at an EconoLodge and the shower had big hairs in it and mildew on the curtain), dined at cute, local restaurants and our favorite chain eateries. We woke up late (7 am!), browsed book stores, actually tried on clothes before purchasing and sat in a coffee shop for 2 hours and played on the internet and talked. I didn't even carry a bag with me; I tucked my wallet and phone into my coat pocket. Everywhere we went, I felt anonymous. Nobody noticed us coming or going. This never happens with kids as we always garner either positive (oh, aren't they cuties?!) or negative (lady, get can't you get your kid to stop screeching?!) attention. After one particularly long stroll through a shop and right before deciding to take an afternoon siesta, Andy said, "This is weird. We're just going to go take a nap. Should we go do something else? Why are we going to take a nap in the afternoon?" My response was simple, "Because we can!" This became the motto for the rest of the trip. Why are we out at 9pm and looking for something to do? Because we can! Why are we up at 6am and going back to sleep? Because we can? Why are we walking around without a giant bag of extra clothes and snacks? Because we can! Why are we stopping at this cute place on the side of the road in a random town? You got it- because we can!

I don't know if a 2 day trip to Corning would have made me happy before I had kids but it certainly did now. I think having kids has made me really easy to please. Our last trip, alone, together was our adventure to Italy in 2005. We celebrated our first anniversary drinking wine in Rome. Six years later and I felt just as elated to be drinking a margarita with Andy at a Chili's in Big Flats.

We're healthy, we have wonderful children and we are still in love. And that makes me pretty happy.

Comments

I'm so happy for you! I'm glad you had some away time. Good for you.

My mother was mentioning to me that same article in attempt to make me feel better about not having kids. I told her that it was a totally moot point because I think I WANT kids so I'm not happy. And if I ever have kids (I mean find a man who wants to have kids with me), then it's not like I'm going to admit I was happier without them. I don't think it works that way. ;)

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