Motherhood has this profound way of putting things into perspective. And when it comes to my idea of happiness, it’s no different.
Not too long ago, I ran into an old friend. After a quick catch-up and questions like, “How’s life?” and “What’s it like being a mom of two?”, one haphazard question took me completely by surprise:
I instantly said yes, but it was a very defensive “yes”. Her question seemed more disparaging than genuine. As if, from her POV, my life as a busy, stretched-too-thin mother, wife and entrepreneur was far from her image of happiness. And answering anything but “yes” would have only endorsed her disapproving tone.
But after a couple of days of introspection (because that’s what we introverts do), I decided that her question may have stemmed from curiosity rather than judgment.
Perfectly curated Instagram feeds can make motherhood seem like an indestructible bubble of happiness and perfection — while the screaming baby in the restaurant booth behind you may cast motherhood as the bane of even the smallest trickle of happiness.
So I want to clear some things up. And I believe these truths can hold true for everyone — whether or not you’re a mom.
Rather, it’s ever-changing. What made me happy before becoming a mom certainly doesn’t fit the bill these days. And what makes me happy today could potentially change tomorrow. The key is to treat happiness as if it’s a daily practice that requires intentional action.
I feel this may be a given, but it needs to be said: What makes you happy won’t always make others happy. And vice versa. But guess what? That’s okay.
Me B.K. (before kids) always thought I’d be perfectly happy going to work 8 hours a day, five days a week while I sent my little one off to daycare. But when it came time to do just that, I struggled. I eventually learned that I’m happiest when I’m able to work and be present for my kids throughout the day (which is not always easy, but I make it work).
My point is that I’ve seen a variety of situations: full-time working moms, full-time stay-at-home moms, mompreneurs. The list goes on. And I know women who are perfectly happy in their unique, individual situation.
As a mama, I’ve learned that conflicting emotions can manifest in a single moment. I can feel overwhelmed poring over my to-do list and then, in that same moment, my toddler will come clamoring into the room in a unbalanced trot and shoot me the biggest, heart-melting grin.
In that moment, I feel both happy and anxious. But here’s the light: the positive moments have a way of lifting the weight of the not-so-positive moments.
Being a mama teaches you to find the happy in the most simple, ordinary things. As I’m typing this, my toddler broke into a dance to one of his favorite Moana songs and I cheered him on — “Go Jax, go Jax” — as only his mama would. That’s happiness. Since becoming a mother, I’ve learned to relish long, uninterrupted showers and find joy in eating a meal without microwaving it three times or swatting away tiny hands.
But don’t be confused. This isn’t about lowering your standards of happiness. Instead, these moments help you switch the lens and begin focusing on those tiny moments of happiness that are often overlooked. Because of this, I’m usually in a state of gratitude which translates to — you guessed it — more happiness.
As moms, we naturally morph into these selfless beings who will sacrifice just about anything to make our little humans happy. But making them happy doesn’t always have to be at the expense of our own.
Want to get another degree? By all means, go for it. Want to buy those shoes you can’t stop thinking about? Swipe that card. We may have to work harder at being happy these days, but it’s worth the extra effort. As the old adage goes, when mama’s happy everyone’s happy.
So to answer her question, I am happy. In this very moment — although I’m tired, overwhelmed, hungry and slightly sore — I am happy. And I will continue striving to find my own version of happiness throughout this motherhood journey.
MotherHustle Panelist Latoya Torrance is the founder and chief content marketer at Endear Content. A writer at heart, Latoya crafts inspiring content to help small businesses grow their brand online. When she’s not working, you can find her obsessing over her two boys, binge-watching The Office or scarfing down pizza. Find and follow her on Instagram at EndearContent and LatoyaJames_.
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