Bring the noise

A lot of psychologists and happiness experts talk about the importance of living in the moment. You need to be happy even while you’re hoping for the next job promotion or the nicer house or the lasting relationship. We all have a fairly set level of happiness, and events will temporarily bump us from that level, but we always return to it.

I’ve always ascribed to this theory, in part because I find that some aspect of my life always tends to be a bit less than I would hope. When our family is doing well, my career is often neglected. When my career is going well, my social life seems to fall short. I can’t have it all. I know this.

Those psychologists don’t know everything though. If you have lost a baby, bringing home a healthy baby will absolutely make you happier — permanently happier. Having Henry here in no way negates what happened with Genevieve, and that disappointed me in the beginning. I had imagined that I would stop being sad. Nope. But on a daily basis, I am happier than I was before I had Henry.

I was reading a piece recently by a woman who has one child at home and one baby who died, and she wrote about her longing for the clamor and mess that comes with two kids. I tend to think about how I should have even more clamor and mess in my life. Three kids is chaos, right? But by the end of the day in my house, there is a mess and a lot of mayhem. Henry deposits toys, books, and clothing in every corner of the house. He tugs down a few Christmas tree ornaments despite our very top-heavy decorating. Eleanor displays a half-dozen works of art on the kitchen counter, none of which I’m allowed to throw away. And all of it makes this neat-freak very happy.

I am ready for Christmas. Everyone always asks that. Are you ready? For the first time in I don’t know how long, I am ready. Up until now, we’ve had incredibly polite Christmas mornings. Eleanor, taking her cues from the adults, has waited patiently to open presents. Last year was good, but Henry was still a tiny sleeping nugget, not a participant. This will be the first year that wrapping paper is thrown everywhere and toys are tussled over. I want all of it — the shrieks of joy, the bellyaches from too many cookies, the children nestled snug in their beds, even if one of them still demands to be soothed once in the middle of each night. It’s much easier than silence.