Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happiness is...

My sister and I have a saying that (for us at least) "Happiness is productivity." We both thrive on having a big project to bite off that we can just conquer. I have always been inclined to measure my self-worth and base my happiness and fulfillment in life, at least to some extent, on what (or how much) I get done.

The problem is that as a mom the whole concept of "productivity" becomes a lot trickier. If I were to measure productivity in typical terms of net output (i.e. how much laundry gets folded) I would probably have a net negative -especially since I have a two-year-old that loves to sit in laundry piles, unfold them and dump them over the stair railing. It is difficult to be productive when the odds are stacked against you, four mess-makers vs. one cleaner-upper. As a mom, even if you manage to be productive, whatever you produce, be it changed diaper, clean house, fed baby or clean dishes, is usually undone within hours or even minutes. This is problematic for a person with my personality. How do you feel happy and fulfilled when it is hard to have something to show for what you do all day?

I really struggled with this when I first became a mom and even fought depression for a while. It still is hard for me at times, but I feel like I have become better at it. I have had to learn to find happiness in other things and (since you can't totally circumvent the personality which which you were born) to redefine "productivity." If you measure my productivity in terms of hours Adelyn has been nursed or the times I have saved Jackson from certain disaster, then I am among the most productive people around. ;)

I have found happiness (and productivity) in a baby who has happily drifted off to sleep while drooling milk at the end of a nursing. I have found happiness (and productivity) in Jackson excitedly asking at the end of reading a book for the fourth time, "Again!" I have found happiness in hearing Jared's elaborate plans to host a circus at our house on Thanksgiving or hearing Camryn say proudly, "Mom, listen to me play 'Whole Note March' on the piano!" But even better, I think I have learned to see myself as more than a sum of the stuff that I get done, awards that I have earned, how clean my house is, the grades that I earn or the amount that I get paid.

But getting a good project done here and there certainly doesn't hurt. ;)