I just read a novel in which one of the characters was an economist who specialized in the study of Happiness. He had created some formula, which I won’t be able to document exactly right, but the jist of it was Happiness = Reality – Expectations. Maybe there was some more complicated math in there, but the simple way I’ve captured it here makes enough sense to me. If your expectations are greater than reality, you end up with a negative number in the Happiness department. Unexpected awesomeness is the recipe for total bliss. That is, when what we expect is nothing special — and our experience exceeds it.
Going into Mother’s Day, I felt bombarded by media messages about it being the most beautiful day ever, and I felt worried for moms who tend to have high expectations. When a friend on Facebook posted about wanting brunch and jewelry, I believeÂ we are responsible for our own happiness, so if you want those things, I think you should probably secure them for yourself.
I loved several of the posts I read about Mother’s Day, and the things my real-life friends said aloud, about the confounding feeling of wanting to be left (the hell) alone, but also wanting to do the fun parts of parenting, the things that make us feel loved: receiving hand-drawn cards and snuggling. Grocery runs were on many women’s lists of things they’d like to have erased from their typical Sunday responsibilities.
My day was 100% satisfying. With Ryan’s help, Scarlett bought me a tiny stuffed hedgehog that I once said was cute in a Barnes & Noble, which showed me how much she wanted to please and surprise me. Julian had picked out a baseball hat for his Little League team that I can wear to his games. In Ryan’s words, “Welcome to Your-kid-is-old-enough-to-choose-gifts-for-you Day.”
In the morning, I took my mom and my children to a butterfly exhibit in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The kids resisted at first, but when I reminded them it was my special day, they stopped complaining. Back at home I ate leftovers I was looking forward to while Ryan prepared lunch for the kids. In the afternoon, we took a walk to get fancy popsicles — mine was Burnt Caramel. Afterward, my husband took the kids to the park and as they headed out the front door, he called out to me that I’d find wine chilling in the fridge. For dinner, we had Indian take out, my fave, which he ordered and picked up. I noticed that he had bought several dark chocolate treats and stashed them in my normal spots, and I selected one to eat while we caught up on The Office after putting the kids to bed.
Mother’s Day is frankly not that important to me, and maybe that’s why I was so pleased with my day. Also? Since I had already decided I wasn’t responsible for discipline for the day, there were less power struggles than usual. How did your Mother’s Day go? Were your expectations met or exceeded?
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