I think one of the most frustrating aspects of becoming a mother is that so much of what we really experience on a daily basis remains an untold story.
‘Happiness is only real when shared.’
This was the last sentence written in the journal of a young man who decided to explore the depths of solitude by way of excluding himself from society; the poor guy ended up dying alone in the wilderness of Alaska. During his time in the wild, he learned skills that he never thought were in his capacity; he gained an intimacy with his environment by observing and analyzing the behaviour of the rough country that surrounded him. During the two years he spent in isolation, there were moments of spectacular significance. Life expressed itself time and time again in completely unexpected ways—there were beautiful as well as brutal surprises and harsh lessons learned.
Unfortunately, however—without anyone there to experience these moments with him—such significant moments invariably lost much of their unique importance. Sadly for him, it was only at the end of his journey when he realized that happiness is only real when shared.
Of course motherhood does not equate to living on one’s own in the Alaskan wilderness. But there is often an extreme sense of isolation that comes from staying at home with one’s children. There are playgroups, meeting up with friends in the park or at the local café for cappuccinos and babyccinos, but most mums we know never manage to string more than a few sentences together before being distracted by a child falling or screaming or hitting or putting something dangerous or dirty in its mouth.
Then there are the husbands/partners, who are (for the most part) eager to hear about the trials and tribulations of the day, eager to hear about these so-called significant moments that we experience with the children. What we often find is that recounting these moments isn’t easy at the end of a long day.
No, that’s not right. Recounting the moments themselves isn’t difficult but explaining their significance is a much harder task.
Our explanations require the time and the space to philosophise and to add context, in order to provide greater meaning to our seemingly routine activities and linkages to the goings-on of the world around us. Perhaps we begin to doubt our ability to do this when even reading an occasional newspaper seems to be a near-impossible achievement.
But I believe there are concepts that do not require linkages to current affairs or to contexts that are implicitly understood by our partners. Our daily rituals and adventures contain universal concepts that we all relate to and that we all question. If we can harness what we learn and what we think about on a day-to-day basis—all those thoughts we currently allow to be only fleeting—if we can use and link these ideas to more universal concepts, than perhaps our moments of happiness can more easily be shared with others inevitably making our own happiness feel more real.