Every day at 8.50am an alarm goes off on my phone. It is an alert that ﬂashes up with the words- “Happiness is not place. It is the journey we take. Be happy today.”
I know. Crazy right? That I need a daily reminder to be happy. Like a reminder to attend an appointment or remember a friend’s birthday. The alarm is set in the morning. The part of the day I ﬁnd the most difﬁcult. My husband has left for work and I am alone in the house with the kids.
The words are indicative of the place where my head and my heart are so often not. The here and the now. Today. I’m always looking forward and looking towards tomorrow. When the kids are older. When we have completed the renovations. When I lose a little more weight. When we have a little more money. When life becomes easier. When. When. When. Then. Then I will be happy.
My husband gave me the words about 18 months ago. It was during a particular tough time in my life and I was drowning. I had given up work indeﬁnitely to become a stay at home Mum. We had moved interstate. I’d left my career, my friends and entire social network. All that I knew and all that I thought, made me who I was. We were renovating our home. I had just given birth to my second child, a boy. Who. Would. Not. Sleep. I found being a stay at home mum incredibly hard. And I struggled big time with who I now was. Now that I no longer had a job title.
I had returned to full time work eight months after giving birth to my ﬁrst child. So after my second, I was yearning to have a longer period at home. I wanted this life. To be a stay at home Mum. My husband and I had directed our lives so that it could happen. But when reality set it – wow! Are you kidding me? I was in shock. Why hadn’t anyone told me? I’d found one child so much easier in comparison.
I struggled on the day to day front in being able to get the kids fed, dressed and out the door but I also struggled in an internal way. I wanted to wear my CV on my shirt. I wanted to scream that I was more than this crazy lady with the bed hair and two children hanging off her, who was so obviously struggling. And will I ever be more than this again?
The thought haunted me.
A slow but steady resentment began to grow for my husband. As he left for work each day. He was able to drive to work in peace. He still got to wear nice clothes. He still got to use his brain. Continue his career. Have uninterrupted conversations. And yet he was still their father. He still got the title. “It’s sooooo hard…” I would whine to him. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done!”
But is it the hardest thing I’ve ever done? It’s a convenient line… but really? Seven years ago I nursed my Mum as she died in the most horriﬁc way. Is it that hard? Being at home every day raising our healthy, beautiful children? Nope. Not even close. But isolating? Yes. Lonely? Yes. Draining? Yes. Unrelenting? Yes. And frightening? Oh yes.