Tag Archives: happiness

A Momoir, Chapter 7: Hello, Happiness? Are you out there? Hello? Hello…?

happy

A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.

Despite being traced as far back as Jackie Kennedy, likely even earlier, I’d never heard this saying until my sister nonchalantly said it over Thanksgiving. My mind keeps coming back to it because it’s actually quite profound if you think about it. These days especially.

Why? Because as I’m finding out, a lot of kids really aren’t that happy. And if that saying holds any truth … good grief. There goes my dream of stress-free evenings of karaoke in my retirement village because there’s a fair chance I may be fretting forever.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately for good reason. With four kids in varying stages of young-adulthood there’s a smattering of unhappiness in my family on any given day. I can’t seem to keep up with it and most days I don’t know how to make it go away. As all moms know, the feeling of helplessness is the worst.

On the surface, my kids have lived fairly mundane, non-traumatic lives. Typical extraneous factors aside (not making a coveted team, middle school bullying, romantic heartbreak) they’ve all encountered life’s disappointments with little residual scarring. It might’ve helped that most of their setbacks were met with my steely shrugs. Hell, they were taught at an early age that toys from the dollar store would not last the car ride home: yes, you can have it but no crying when it breaks, k? Dry those eyes, get that chin up and move on. It’s not the end of the world. This too shall pass. Glass half full.

You get the picture.

But it seems my tough tactics notwithstanding, things got a little muddy in between SATs and graduation gowns. The Expectation vs. Reality of the real world is crippling our young adults and now I — and dozens of friends — are finding ourselves helping them navigate a reality they have been utterly unprepared for. I know plenty of kids (“kids” in their twenties) who are floundering, feeling unfulfilled, filing away their diplomas to work as bartenders and nannies and quitting six figure salary jobs because they’re just not happy. Um, what?

This confounds me for when I think back at my own young-adult journey it didn’t seem so … I don’t know, difficult. After turning my back on the circus that was high school (because hello, high school is a circus for every generation. Period.) I went off to college – where I stayed for four straight years: dropping classes, adding classes, switching majors, drinking too much, kissing wrong guys, coming home at Christmas because … everyone did. Three days after graduation I pounded the pavement with a neat stack of freshly typed resumes under my arm and took the first job offer that came. Thus began Chapter One of My So-Called Adult Life.

It was 1988 and we were all following the bread crumbs sprinkled by Gordon Gekko and Tess McGill (“….Leeeeeeeeeeet the river ruuuuuuuun!”) and when those first jobs sucked (at $14k a year most did), we typed up new resumes and got new ones. Chin up, move on.

We didn’t backpack through Europe. We didn’t take a gap year. We didn’t even come home from college until they closed the dorms on us. Today, if I had a dollar for every kid I know that went off to college and didn’t finish out the year (one of my own included) lord, I’d have some purdy nice things to unload on Ebay.

Sadly, our kids are setting out to find euphoric satisfaction in life and they’re becoming disillusioned to discover that is a most elusive achievement.

Recently I had a conversation with my daughter (23). I’ve written of her before because she is a brilliant being and a remarkable soul. She finished college in less than four years and is, ahem, no dummy. Currently she’s living across the country, experiencing the beauty of other regions, seeking her own life satisfaction and is – for the most part — happy. But she shared a thought with me that pointed out this dilemma rather succinctly. She said her generation has been groomed (thank you, Ted Talks and progressive professors) to be bold and follow their dreams. To engage in their passions. To focus on what makes them happy and just do it.

Yet what she and her friends are finding – all these years later – is that their passionate happy dreams … are not exactly paying their bills. Life, it turns out, is expensive. Some are becoming slowly cynical by this stark realization and finding themselves in a Now what? conundrum.

What’s so wrong with following your passion on the weekends? she mused.

I concurred and admitted that while I love to write, if I was forced to stare at my laptop and do it every single day I might begin to loathe it. Then I reminded her that most adults (cough, my age) don’t go skipping off to their jobs each morning singing songs and shitting confetti on their way but most would agree we’re happy nonetheless. Chin up, move on.

Her remarks made me believe that – despite the constant worry that comes with parenting a child from afar – the kid’s going to be alright. Luckily, she’s starting to get it (soooooo, talk to your bothers, will ya?).

Still, it got me thinking. Since all these grand ideas about happiness being force-fed into youthful minds are not turning out to be so grand after all, maybe there needs to be some menu changes on that advice buffet they’re chowing on.

For starters, we’re insisting that kids select college majors while they’re still in high school. That is absurd. The sheer amount of times my kids change their clothing or hair styles leaves me doubtful they’d ever stick with any decision that seemed like a good idea at 16 or 17.

We’re also jumping aboard a crazy train when it comes time for college applications. Here’s a thought: if a kid can barely get him/herself up and off to school – FOR FREE – what makes any parent think it’ll happen when they’re hundreds of miles away with thousands of dollars on the line and a gazillion other distractions?

Funny. We’re telling kids to go off and journey to find their life happiness when they’ve never used public transportation … or written out a check … or paid a bill … or even fully understand the words remit, interest, fee

I don’t know. Today is not the day I can solve this problem. It just seemed a helluva lot easier being content when we were blindly following the Brat Pack and dreaming about DeLoreans.

I keep my fingers crossed that my kids will come to learn that their road to happiness is winding and full of red lights …

… and that sometimes being stuck in a traffic jam allows a person some needed time to think about the direction s/he’s headed in …

… and that it’s always okay to change your course. Always.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements. (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore). A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. And @Eyerollingmom on Instagram.

Missed the start of A Momoir? Catch up here:

Chapter 1, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/07/29/a-collection-of-eyerolls-chapter-1-yes-billy-joel-we-will-all-go-down-together/

Chapter 2, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/08/13/chapter-2-sometimes-kids-suck-a-lot/

Chapter 3, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/09/22/chapter-3-sorry-were-tied-all-kids-are-filthy/

Chapter 4, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2017/12/02/a-momoir-chapter-4-a-moms-plea-to-seth-rogen-enough-with-the-masturbation-already/

Chapter 5, Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/04/20/a-momoir-chapter-5-the-magnitude-of-the-middle-aged-mom/

Chapter 6: Click here: https://tinadrakakis.com/2018/08/24/a-momoir-chapter-6-im-not-always-like-you-mom-but-thats-okay/

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A Million Dollar Marriage: Apparently, Not for Everyone

moneymarriage

A little while back we had some fun with friends reading from one of those silly books about things a person would do for a million dollars.  First of all, it was eye-opening (to the point of appalling) how different the male responses were from the females.  Gain 100 pounds for a million dollars?  In a heartbeat, said the guys.  Whaaaat?  From the low-to-middle-aged (and fighting it every step of the way) group of women (all moms, I might add), a resounding:  Never.

Secondly, it was interesting how vastly conflicting my answers were from my husband’s.  “BUT IT’S A MILLION DOLLARS!” he cried, clearly seeing his dreams of a state-of-the-art-man-cave fade into dust.  “YOU COULD HIRE A TRAINER AFTERWARDS!”  I simply shook my head.  Nope; not interested.  But it continued.

Send a naked picture of yourself to everyone you know?  (Again, no shocker: most men would do this for far less money.)  Chop off a finger?  Live in a room full of mosquitoes without any repellant for 24 hours?  Never again cut your toenails?  Apparently there are few body parts my husband wouldn’t maim for the money.  I, on the other hand, held firm: nope, nope, nope.  I’m certain I saw real tears escape his eyes.

It’s not that I don’t want to bask in the decadence of buying Jimmy Choos with cash, or venturing out of Target for a new shirt, or spending carelessly, without any worries (“Come on kids, whaddya say we get you those braces AND splurge on new eyeglasses?”) but I imagine it comes down to being truly content.  I guess I am.

Sure there are things I want (shamefully, I might consider trading one of my children for an unbelievable pair of leather boots) but most of my wants aren’t very material things.  I don’t want a maid to do the laundry but – come on — who wouldn’t want someone to come in and simply put it away?  I don’t care about the newest gadgets or latest technology but I’d sure be happy with an electronic buzzer that zapped a kid’s ankle every time a towel is dropped on the floor.  I don’t even think a gourmet chef preparing my meals would be all that helpful to me – I’d be quietly thrilled if my own cooked meals were eaten without fuss or commotion.  Imagine that.

It’s a good thing my husband and I are a good match.  He keeps playing the lottery and I keep clipping coupons.  He dreams big and I find subtle elation in a great haircut or a pair of jeans feeling a wee bit looser than the previous month.  And in the spirit of a happy marriage, every once in a while we meet in the middle.  Rather, I cave just a little:  I did agree that yes, for a million dollars I would sleep in the Amityville Horror house for a week.  With wine.  But that’s it.

Tina Drakakis blogs at Eyerollingmom and was featured in the 2014 Boston production of “Listen to Your Mother: Giving Motherhood a Microphone.” Her work has been featured in NPR’s “This I Believe” radio series yet she places “Most Popular 1984” on top of her list of achievements.  (Next would be the home improvement reality TV show of 2003 but her kids won’t let her talk about that anymore).   A witty mother of four, she takes on cyberspace as @Eyerollingmom on Twitter and Eyerollingmom on Facebook. and@Eyerollingmom on Instagram.