When we were little our dad used to make up bedtime stories with my brother and me in them.
Often, there were these two witches who would chase us, determined to eat us. They'd catch us, but we'd always get away.
Sometimes Maude was in these stories. Sometimes, when "Lisa was all alone in the middle of a field..." I would beg for Maudie to be there. "No, Daddy! Maudie was there! Lisa wasn't all by herself! Maudie was there!"
"Not this time. Lisa was all...by...herself..."
We always escaped in the nick of time. We came up with ingenious solutions to problems in order to free ourselves. But it was rather stressful.
And now, as an adult, I realize that yes, it was perhaps a little fucked up. Who terrifies their kids right before kissing them goodnight? Of course I was scared of the dark.
But now I wonder if that was how my dad viewed life. He was fast and clever and stayed just ahead of disaster. But barely.
My youth was never dull. We lived in interesting places and traveled extensively. Daily life was fascinating, at base because it was always in another culture. I think often we were happy, but it took me a long time to realize that happiness was not a stated goal.
But at some point I realized that I wanted to be happy. And I didn't
know how. I knew how to slog through. Because that's what I thought life was.
Having that epiphany, however, and making the deliberate choice to work towards something good, transformed my view on life.
Now, I try to make my kids happy. I regularly ask them if they're happy. What I've not done for a while, however, is ask myself.
Now, there are times when life is going to suck a bit, like when you have a newborn, whether or not you've had a C-section (but preferably not). You aren't getting enough sleep for waaaay too many months in a row and you're kind of frenzied, and life is hard. You might or might not be desperate or miserable, but you are definitely not at your most joyful.
I'm not saying that every day needs to be rainbows and unicorn kisses and puppy breath and M&Ms. Or even one of those at a time. Sometimes things aren't great, but you don't walk away because you see the larger picture and you believe you can get back to the good.
But sometimes you back up and and you still feel like you're all alone. In the middle of a field.
And if that feeling persists, then you might start to feel like those witches, they're not all that far behind you.