Thursday, May 7, 2009

When All Else Fails, Be Happy

Ever notice that a flurry of bad news can make it seem like its snowing sad? I was feeling a little bombarded this week with news of friends who'd just lost jobs, the revelation that a file at work was failing after over a year of work, and the return of a friend who'd just come back from the second of two funerals in her daughter's family in less than two years. Of late, I've been doing my best to stay upbeat with a new focus on my own health and well-being but, since my self-diagnosis of obsessive making-people-happy-itis was recently revealed, it will be no surprise that all this news of others' sadness was bringing me down, down, down.
Then this morning, after I came home from my early-day walk, I crept upstairs to the babies to see if I could steal some snuggling time before they woke up. Sam, my boy, who has always been as regular as a fine Swiss timepiece, was already up. He was diligently going through his drawers looking for the right shirt to wear to his first of several choir performances today. He'd already made his bed and brushed his teeth and was trying to be extra quiet so as not to wake up the girls, with whom he shares a room. In that moment, as has happened to me many times, I was overwhelmed with what a good boy he is. I could barely keep myself together.
What a good, good boy my Sam is. He is the very definition of goodness. He is noble and kind, loving and thoughtful, so sweet he makes you want to smile even when you're not in a smiling kind of mood. He is earnest in all things, genuine to a fault, and seriously sincere. I wish everyone in the world would get a few moments to know my little boy because I think just about everyone he comes in contact with must be the better for having met him. If I didn't selifshly want him to be (and know he'll be great at being) a dad, I'd say he's exactly the kind of person the church needs to draw people into the faith. And don't take my word for it - his teachers actually tear up when they tell me how much they love having him in the class. That'd border on the weird if I didn't tear up myself when I describe him to other people. He's just that kind of kid.
Don't get me wrong. The boy can annoy with the best of them. He is 8 and has been growing up with sisters so there's no end to the use of plastic snakes, rubber spiders, and real live worms he has invented. (I'm particularly impressed in a 'that is so disgusting' kind of way with the planting of worms in the laundry room, a long-term investment in the inevitable squeal, usually from me.) He is a fresh-air addict and is completely nonplussed by the insistance that a child must remain indoors during blizzards or thunderstorms. His father has taken to buying him only velcro-strap shoes because he has tired of ranting about the need to tie shoes. (The boy can do it, he just knows now that it gets a rise out of his dad when he doesn't so... velcro it is!) Sam's chronic teasing has brought everyone in the family to tears, or tearing out hair, depending on the occasion. And if I have to tell him one more time that 'neatness counts' when he does his homework I may have to stab myself in the pupils with sharp #2 pencils just to release the stress.
But, oh my good Lord, the love that boy generates is like sunshine all around you on a perfect summer day. When Julie Andrews sings 'the hills are alive' and twirls around on that mountaintop, she's feeling that feeling that I get when I see my baby boy, I just know it. And on the worst of my days, when I'm as low as I can be, I can look at that face, that face that had to be in an incubator when first born because it was so so tiny, that face that smiles broadly all the time for no good reason at all, that face that looks just like my face, but exactly like my husband's face too, I can look at that face and know I haven't a care in the world.

When all else fails, I can look at that face and be happy. And no amount of snow can dampen that kind of happiness.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Carmen,
    When I moved into the building next door to yours 6 years ago, I had no idea who my neighbors were- just that they had an adorable set of twins who were just turning 3 years old, and a gorgeous Lucy. I knew that they liked hanging out in their gazebo at night with their friends, and spending lots of time as a family.
    As the years passed, I saw those beautiful children grow up into unbelievably mature, giving and well-behaved kids. Out of my kitchen window, I got to witness their playfulness and energy and love for family.
    I know you, as parents, have done something right- because your three kids are amazing! Lucy's inspired me to grow my hair out in order to give it to less fortunate people that need hair. And the other day, I witnessed how patient and well-behaved Sam and Sarah are while Tony took me to see a place (what a non-adventure for kids! They were so GOOD!)
    I've always felt so grateful for your family's presence next door. I've felt safe on our street and in my apartment because I know you're looking out for me. What a great neighborly relationship!
    I'll never forget the sound of your kids calling out my nickname when they see me from next door, "Hey Elmo!" And Sarah's non-sequiturs that she's called out to me from over the bushes, "I have purple thingies!", being one.
    So THANK YOU neighbor, for being so kind to me, and for being such a lovely, gorgeous family, and for giving me many good years to cherish and remember from my first apartment.
    I will truly miss living next door to you.
    Emily Moss