Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happiness is relative

This gut-wrenching post at Finding Your Voice by Jennifer Lawler really puts that New York Magazine piece about happiness and parenting ("All Joy and No Fun") into perspective.

She writes:
Only an academic would undertake a study like this, defining happiness as something along the lines of “satisfaction with life” and “feeling rewarded by your work." If there’s an occupation more likely to make you feel incompetent and unrewarded than being a parent, I have never heard of it.

If you weren’t an academic, you might define happiness as the experience of being fully alive. To know grace, and despair, and the kind of hardness you have to learn to stand against; to watch your family fail you when you need them the most, and have your ex-husband look around, shrug his shoulders, and hold out his hand to help you up again.

And then she writes:

When your daughter is nine months old, a neurosurgeon will say to you, “We believe resecting the left side of her brain will help control the seizures.”

The seizures that she has all day, every day, dozens, hundreds; she was born with a massively deformed brain, what did you expect?

You think a minute, and you realize the doctor is saying they are going to take out half your daughter’s brain, and throw it away, so much trash, and you’re supposed to sign the consent form for this.

And after the surgery, when the seizures come back, you will sit across the table from the man who is now your ex-husband, the man you adored, but life can kick the ass out of any romance, even yours, and you will order a very large glass of tequila, and you will say, “What the hell are we supposed to do now?”

Read the rest. Really, go on... I'll wait here. It's a pretty stark reminder that happiness is relative -- and that people are a lot happier when they decide to be.


Alysia said...

That post was one of the most beautiful and heartwrenching responses to that stupid study. Everyone should read what Jennifer wrote - parents w/"typical" kids and those of us with special needs kids. It's a reminder of why we're put here to begin with.
Thanks for sharing it again.

Melissa Taylor said...

Wow - both articles are amazing writing and have given me something to ponder as I choose to wallow in my daughter's epilepsy or not, to find joy or not. Thanks,