It seemed like any other night. I had made mac and cheese, sliced apple wedges and put them on the table. My seven year old son talked happily about a new video game, while husband listened and scooped noodles on his plate. I settled in my chair and looked across at them and smiled. Although on the surface this night was uneventful, the undercurrent of my own emotions was radically different.
Over the course of the previous four years, I had been undergoing invasive fertility treatments in an attempt to have a second child. I had become pregnant with my son easily, but now this second time, after two miscarriages, things were not happening.
For anyone who has had infertility issues, you know it is laden with frequent doctor visits, aggressive medicines, and invasive tests. However these are small in comparison to the emotional pain one faces each month when your desires fails to come to fruition time and time again.
Although I spent a lot of time worrying about the outcome of each month’s treatments, here, at the dinner table with my husband and son I was feeling a departure from my normal worried brain. To my surprise I was not staring into space yearning for a baby, but in fact quite the opposite. Looking at the two of them that night, something had clicked for me in that moment. My heart was warm with satisfaction, absolute joy, realizing that all I ever needed ever was to be here in this moment.
I don’t know what stirred it on the particular night, but something cracked open in me and I saw that life was good…more than good, it was beautiful. Yes, I didn’t have that little baby, the sibling for my son that I longed for, but there in the moment listening to my husband and son chat about this and that, I saw that there was nothing to pine for. I had everything I needed. I knew then that a new baby need not be part of the equation for my happiness.
Two days later I went into the clinic for the final injections. This was to be our last attempt. I was done trying. I was ready to accept my losses and enjoy what I was given.
However on the final appointment I went in and lo and behold, I was pregnant. With twins!
I look back on that time and wonder if something had clicked for me at the dinner table, that the act of releasing my desires was exactly what I needed. Once I was no longer after my goal, it was now coming for me.
Eleven years later, I sit at the dinner table and look at my husband, teenage son and my beautiful ten year old boy and girl and smile with that same feeling of warmth in my heart that I felt that night and know that this is good. Equally as good.
The funny thing about joy is that it can’t be chased or grabbed at. It’s like seeing a reflection in a lake and trying to pull it from the water. The minute you declare to the world “I want happiness!” It slips from your hands. It’s not something you can have – like that baby I dreamed of. I was chasing after it so hard that it evaded me. But now I know, happiness isn’t something you own, it’s something you are.
I had told myself over and over, “A baby will make me happy,” but what I didn’t realize is that nothing can make me happy…except me. If I was discontent in a family of three and someone dropped another child into the mix, nothing says that I would then be happy. In fact I can pretty much guarantee if I was unhappy before, another child would not fix that.
My joy that evening eleven years ago with my husband and son came from being in the moment, content with where we were, three happy beings sharing a meal together. Nothing more. In that uneventful night, I had inadvertently opened up the window to my heart and allowed the beauty of the present moment to wrap around my soul.
After the twins were born there have been joyful times, but also some very difficult ones. I am still continually amazed and grateful for their presence in my life, but I know it is not their role to give me joy. I have to do that myself.
The twins did not fix anything in my life, in fact they made it whole lot more complicated, however I am learning the importance of pausing, breathing, and making the space for joy to slip in, no matter where I am or what I possess.
The bottom line is if we stick to our old habits of dissatisfaction we will always find new things to yearn for. Sure, I might have my babies, but what about getting a new house, or a new job? Dissatisfaction is a choice. The cycle is endless unless you choose to stop it.
We’re the only ones who can open up that window in our hearts and let the joy in, but we have to find ways to cultivate it. This means finding ways to listen to our own hearts – through quiet, reflective activities like prayer, mediation, dance, walking, time with the people we love. The more we relax and free ourselves from our desires, the more the light shines in.
Life is filled with gifts – from the act of witnessing the dew on a petal to the arrival of a brand new baby. Whatever it is, it’s our choice to see the beauty.
May you always let the light of joy shine in.