Yesterday was spectacularly awful, which made more sense when I woke up this morning with a raging headache, sore throat, and general sense of the corruptible. The easy answer is that I caught Iris’s cold, which was itself the easily deduced result of her waking up every 1-2 hours at night all week. But the truth I am slightly less willing to part with: I’m a bit depressed. Again.
Eating the thistles of life, as it were.
Not that it’s such a really terrible place to be. We are all, for the most part, either climbing or plunging along the spectrum. And I am generally happiest right after a trough—that short space of time when my vision opens a bit and I am profoundly thankful for all the small things. Today is better than yesterday, anyway. That’s something.
And Iris’s nap just hit 35 minutes—also a small, happy thing. She usually pops up at 30 minutes on the dot, which is part of why I want to punch people who still make the blithe mistake of telling me to “just nap when the baby naps.” (There she is, in fact, chattering to herself in her crib). I used to try to sleep. Now I just do small things that make me happy.
Today I went out into the wet and windy gray of the backyard for a bit, getting my trousers damp and my head clear, trying to pinpoint my mood with a camera lens. I’ve pulled all the thistles out of the front garden, my self-conscious nod to our neighbors across the street who I saw out the window a couple of days ago cheerfully setting out their elaborate faux cemetery for Halloween. But our thistles have grown unchecked in the backyard all summer.
Life is harder than I thought.
So is gardening. The thistles I pulled up in May have long since been replaced by dozens more. I forgot to cut back the irises and peonies after they flowered. I didn’t weed much. There’s a half-filled bag of lawn rubbish still sitting where I left it… two months ago. Last time I was feeling especially gloomy I decided the gloominess was from feeling perpetually behind on laundry and dishes and cleaning. So I bought an organizational app. I started a cleaning rotation. The kitchen has never been cleaner, and our sheets are washed according to schedule. And yesterday still sucked.
I would like to stop looking for happy endings—that incredibly unhelpful part of our programming that keeps us perpetually disappointed. Eff you, perfection, I grumble under my breath. The belief in happy endings is the enemy of true happiness. I know that, but it doesn’t make it any easier to cultivate contentment and keep things in perspective.
Being outside does. I wish I remembered that more often.
Although playing with toothbrushes is a close second. Iris and I are going to jump on that now.