“Happy is my favorite color,” it says across my daughter’s favorite new t-shirt, where “happy” is written in rainbow sequins. For me, sometimes my favorite color is blue.
Our society doesn’t endorse sadness. In fact, we do everything to avoid feeling sad. We take happy pills, we drink bright colored liquors, and we smoke plants, vapors, and tobaccos; all to get happy. Who is going to give us permission to feel sad? Because just as our eyes perceive various colors of the rainbow, our bodies feel a spectrum of emotions – and right on the other side of happy, is blue.
Sometimes my happiness comes from allowing myself to indulge my sadness, even though it feels gluttonous. Where do I get off getting sad? “Turn it off,” I tell myself. “You have nothing to be sad about.” I’ve learned it’s not easy to switch off the emotional faucet any more than I can unscrew the corroded, rusted hot water valve underneath my sink. It’s counterintuitive to try. Instead, I carry the weight of guilt, as I take my time to flow down a river of tears.
Thanks to feminism, motherhood means I get to indulge in pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, all while working full time (in heels), cleaning (using non-toxic products), cooking (vegetarian, organic meals), and doing it all with a fucking smile on my face. Also, somewhere between my generation and my children’s they came up with the concept of indulgent childhood. It is no longer enough to merely feed them, clothe them, school them, love them. Now we have to surround them with toys and reward their every step with applause and trophies. We have to provide a trampoline so they can fly and be the safety net when they fall.
Even if someone else is watching your child, of if they are at school, your mind is perpetually attached to their movements. What’s next? I am constantly conducting a mental tally of where he is now and how long until I get him and where does he go next and where is she and when do I get her and where does she go next and what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
The sheer volume of tasks it takes just to maintain our lives is overwhelming. Every time my husband begins a sentence with, “We should…,” I cringe because I don’t want another thing to do. Find a piano teacher, start gymnastics classes, she’s turning six and still only speaks one language – how will she ever get into college? She wants acting lessons and voice lessons and he wants to take a computer science class and she needs a birthday party and he’s graduating … and I thought it used to take thousands, and now it seems it takes millions and I feel more broke than ever.
We’re also living at a time when “Keeping up with the Jones” is not just harder than ever, it’s more in our face than ever. We’re inundated with posts of fake lives on social media and we’re too addicted to pull away. We’ve become too busy to attend real parties anymore, yet we can’t disconnect from the digital one? How much happier would we all be if we didn’t dwell on the happiness of others so much?
Also, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat and drink greens and exercise every day – yoga, pilates, meditation. Make sure to Botox so the world doesn’t see the remnants on your face from worrying (or laughing). Use makeup and contouring so we don’t see the tired on your face; hair dye to cover up the gray. Make sure you’re having enough sex with your husband, giving enough blow jobs, and wearing sexy underwear. Tell him he’s awesome, so he’s feeling self-assured and isn’t tempted to fuck another woman. Tell your son’s he’s amazing so he doesn’t get suicidal in middle school and tell your daughter she’s beautiful so doesn’t have to jump into bed when the first boy she meets tells her she’s pretty.
Sometimes all of these thoughts come together to do a wicked dance on your cerebellum and all you want to do is cry. Not because life is bad or hard or unfair, but because sometimes happiness is not the default … and it is OK. So go ahead, grab a box of tissue and listen to sad love songs, read a blog about someone too young dying of cancer, find every reason you have to be sad and suck it up inside you until you’re a balloon stretched out about to pop. Sit on the shower floor and cry until you taste your snot and the salt of your tears. Realize, this is today, this is right now, this is just a feeling, and it will not last forever, nothing does.