wafted toward me this morning out of nowhere empty street no kids playing backyards seemed bare, still from where did this little bubble appear without others trailing behind? one shimmery rainbow glistening bubble floating in the air is it Glinda coming to pay me a visit grant me some wishes? promise I won’t cheat no asking for three more wishes but seriously, here I am a grown woman looking for Glinda the Good Witch in her puffy pink ball gown crowned in her sparkling tiara waving that magic wand contemplating three hopeful wishes that floated along in a single bubble until somewhere it popped
“If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations
Would that free some room up for joy
Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?”Lin-Manuel Miranda, Surface Pressure, from Disney’s Encanto
One thing I don’t like about myself is I have HAS-Happiness Avoidance Syndrome. I completely made that up, but I think I have it nonetheless. You won’t find it on WebMD or HealthLine, but I know it’s real. I don’t know why I have it. I try to get rid of it. I’ve read books, lots of them, on the topic. I’ve tried all kinds of happiness “Kool-Aid” from the best happiness experts and gurus.
However, some of the people who claim to have all their happy ducks in a row are millionaires. And the happy drinks they offer are laced with toxic positivity and a huge dose of privilege. I work hard to be positive and to see the glass as half full, which I discussed a few days ago, but then again, what’s in the glass? I prefer reality. No amount of positivity is going to completely turn something horrid into something not so horrid. What helps in those situations are a lot of people helping me through those times because you have to ride through them. If something’s awful, it’s awful, there’s no need to pretend it isn’t.
How did I become this way? Is it being a (mostly) rule following first born? Is it the high expectations I load onto my shoulders? Is it nature or nurture? I often have to tell myself not to fret about certain things.
Case in point: This weekend. I’m fretting about ordering dinner. What can I share with my ‘tween who will either have the appetite of a gnat or a full grown man? I’ve been sharing meals with my kids for almost two decades. Why? The damn budget. I hate wasting food. My husband orders whatever he wants, plus extra sides and a drink without blinking. Why do I have to second guess everything and tally the bill before we even order? I’m usually hungry and since we don’t eat out more than once a week (which I think is too much), might as well enjoy a good meal I don’t have to cook, right?
If I do share, ‘tween devours the double sized portion and I’m stuck scrounging up leftover fries or half a chicken strip with the breading gnawed off. If I don’t share, we wind up with too much food. The thing is, we can afford it. We don’t go to overly pricey restaurants and we order what’s reasonable. Everyone else is happy, so why do I do this to myself?
Is it first-born perfectionism? I’ve had to play adult before I became one. I helped younger siblings with homework. Cooked some meals when my parents were at work. I did lots of sibling-sitting while I was in high school. I’m not the only one. It’s the default when you grow up with two parents working. I don’t know if this is the reason or not and I’m certainly not blaming my parents. That’s how it was.
Thanks to Disney, I have Surface Pressure from Encanto playing in the back of my mind. Often. The song annoys me. It isn’t pleasant. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and hurts my ears. And yet, it’s fitting. Isn’t that what HAS does though? It’s annoying. It’s unpleasant. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and hurts your ears. And thoughts. And everyone around you. Everyone around me. I’m working on it, but it’s hard. That’s reality. It’s self-inflicted. I’m trying to stop.
I don’t know what’s it’s like being a HAS-not. Happiness ebbs and flows. That’s okay. We can’t be happy all of the time, otherwise, we wouldn’t know there’s a difference between anything else.
This morning, I emphatically ordered avocado toast and a cappuccino. It was delicious and I enjoyed every bite of it. I didn’t share a meal with ‘tween and it felt good. Then I ordered a concha, my favorite Mexican pastry, to bring home for tomorrow morning. Might as well. We were in San Antonio and found a bougie Mexican panadería. I’m a sucker for conchas. I will be happy when I have it with my cafecito in the morning. Or at least the second half of it. I happily ate some on the way home.
What’s in the glass?
Milk, half full
Margarita, half empty
Coca-Cola, half full
Any kind of diet drink, half full
Coffee, half empty
Sangria, half empty
Ask a teen, “I don’t know.”
Ask a toddler, they spilled the glass
Ask a teacher, too full, no time for a bathroom break
I stopped shopping at malls years ago. Too cumbersome. I got an Amazon Prime membership, so that’s where I’ve been since. My shopping trips usually consist of the grocery store, Target, Costco, occasionally Old Navy, and book stores. That’s about it. I hate shopping. My daughter gets lots of hand me downs from her older cousin and she isn’t into many of the current fashion trends. She prefers thrift stores.
A few weeks ago she requested a trip to Hot Topic to spend a gift card she received for her birthday last June. That’s how often we shop, almost a year later, and I haven’t taken her to use it. We browsed where she wanted to browse.
I knew better than to look for anything for myself, other than popping in to get my freebie from Bath & Body Works along with a scented candle. I bought her mall pretzels, stopped at a shop for a bag of crystals which will wind up strewn all over her desk, pairing up with the the other crystals of the same sort she already owns, and left.
I could use a new workdrobe, a new wardrobe I can wear to work. I’m getting tired of the same clothes. I look behind me and decide to come alone another time so I can have some peace and quiet while I dig into clearance racks.
She requested another trip to the mall this week. She’s enjoying shopping now, but thrift stores are her favorite. This time she requested a trip not to Hot Topic, but to Build-a-Bear. Yes, the ‘tween wants to go to Build-a-Bear. To build a frog.
“Didn’t you get rid of that Disney princess pup you got when you were five? Didn’t you say that place is so lame and only for toddlers and kindergarteners? You’ll probably toss it into the Goodwill pile in a few weeks.”
“Well, they didn’t have frogs back then. Bears are lame. Frogs are cool. And I will not put it in the Goodwill pile. It will be my emotional support frog.”
Before I listed a million reasons why she has no need for another stuffed critter, I reconsidered. It’s spring break. She’s been working so hard the past two years. She missed out on her end of fifth grade field trip and end of year celebration. She started middle school without her friend group January of last year following a rough semester of trying to learn from home. There wasn’t much learning going on.
What’s one more stuffed critter? I invited her best friend since kindergarten. Both had already researched the frog. I thought it was only available online, but that’s the blue tie dyed version. The green spring frog is what they wanted. Apparently, these are a hot item with teens right now. Sure enough, we arrived and there was a pair of middle school aged friends watching their frogs get stitched.
“We can go to a thrift store to buy the clothes because these are overpriced,” she explains to her friend. I’m teaching her valuable life skills. We made our way to get pretzels and made a pit stop at Hot Topic. More 80’s style pins, but of Moth Man. I didn’t even ask. On the way home, we found a Savers tucked a few blocks away from the mall, a blink and you’ll miss it type of location. We stopped and she found newborn sized clothes for the frog.
And that’s day one of Spring Break ’22. I can handle one more stuffed frog. It’s the trip there with a friend that counts.
Plodded through the day
It’s spring break
my spring broke
two long years ago
I need sleep