It is normal to derive joy from your kids’ joy. When I don’t, I feel even less normal than usual-which is a whole bunch of abnormal. What I have realized is when there is no joy in my life I cannot be happy for the joy of others, even my own children’s. (That’s probably why I didn’t enjoy Halloween this year.) And the joy in my life must come from within-from slow, painstaking work on the inside and loving actions towards myself and others-acknowledging and taking care of my own needs, and trusting my own instincts as to what makes me happy. With that comes a certain sense of optimism that is depression’s antidote. Along with Wellbutrin, another good antidote.
I have spent too much of my life looking for happiness outside myself and forgetting that G-d is also within. When I remember this, life itself becomes a sort of prayer-a dedication to be my highest self for as much time as possible. And to do the things that make me happy, as well as be happy with whatever it is I’m doing. Even if it’s something I consider mundane, like housework, which historically has made me want to claw out my eyeballs with forks. (That would be messy to clean up though, so forget it.)
My kids have a friend over right now and they are entirely in the moment. They are playing Monopoly and I’m making dinner and I am in the moment too. It is not always this way. One of my kids has a neurotic tendency to project into the future, another kid can suddenly punch his brother in the face for accumulated ills and I have been known to consider cooking about as appealing as dental work (which reminds me…)
Somehow from my kids I am learning to stay here and now with myself and them and whatever loneliness arises. My eyes are open to see and my mind to receive. And so I notice that even the steam rising up from the pasta pot and trailing up to the ceiling in intricate tendrils, is beautiful.