The bright early-morning springtime light filtered in through the window. My jangled brain struggled to place the day, the time. I lay there, opening my eyes slowly, adjusting to the brightness, and not feeling very happy. It felt like it should be Saturday. I really hoped it was Saturday.
I gathered the energy to lean up on my elbow and glance at the clock. Noooo! 7:30! It couldn’t be!
With a flood, the memory of my night-time hours came back. My toddler had been up most of the night with a bad cold. He was teething. Every time he dropped into a sound sleep his red, stuffy nose blocked up, and he’d wake.
I hadn’t slept properly until 5am, when I’d flopped into bed exhausted, praying he would sleep, and that I’d wake up in time to get my older children off to school in time.
And, thankfully, I had woken in time. Just.
I leapt out of bed, wondering why on earth SB hadn’t woken me up.
“What’s going on!” I yelled.
We had a big day coming. A hearing test with the infant welfare nurse for the baby; a coffee with a friend later for a catch-up; parent-teacher interviews after school; and tonight, some friends over for dinner. So, while it looked like a humdrum “day off work”, there was a lot going on, especially when my happy toddler had turned into a grumpy monster.
Storming into the kitchen I glared at my husband who was calmly getting breakfast sorted.
“Why didn’t you wake me up!” A ridiculous thing to say really, but all my brain was capable of just then.
He gave some wimp-ish response like, “I thought I’d let you sleep-in a bit.”
I ran around the house to find out where everyone was up to.
We were running a good half hour late – for everything.
Where had my happy gone?
Later, as I sat in the car driving to the baby’s hearing test, I reflected on the morning. We’d arrived at school as the bell went. Phew! But it wasn’t without a few yelling matches in the kitchen, some tears, a broken plate, whinges about what was going into lunch boxes, and the inevitable last minute Grade Four homework, which had to be handed in TODAY.
That was all to be expected, considering the lousy start. But what was pulling me up short was how miserable I felt. I knew I was overtired, but my inner heart was weary. I’m usually a happy sort of person, but I felt I had lost something that day.
The kids were all on edge too. I’d heard other mothers talk about how their children reflected their own moods, but never really noticed that happen with us. Until then.
I thought back . . .
I remembered similar mornings of chaos when I was a preschooler. My older sisters left home very early to catch a train to high school, an hour’s journey away. After some weeks of morning bedlam, my father intervened, as usual, and suggested my younger sister and I stay in bed until after 7am. (While my father tended to be a hands-off sort of Dad, he did have an enormous sway on how we did things as a family.)
Most of all, I reflected, I remembered my mother singing in a happy sort of way. Everywhere she went, she hummed a tune. Except sometimes she didn’t, and then you knew something was up.
She had lost her inner happy.
Driving along, I was close to tears as I realised, I too had lost my inner happy. And not just that . . . the kids had lost theirs as well. And it was not the way I ever wanted them to start a day at school.
Annoyingly, the tears flowed while I was driving. My children had a bad start to the day. All because of me.
Have you lost your inner happy?
It took me a while to reclaim my inner sense of happiness. I had to stop and think. I had to let go of some things and make some choices. Quite suddenly one afternoon, a few days later, I discovered myself singing a tune! That was a nice feeling.
So I’ve learnt now, here’s what to do if you have lost your inner happy . . .