Happiness is what we’re all after, isn’t it? But what is happiness, anyway? Is there a universal set of things or situations that make one happy? Or is it personal? Are the sources of happiness the same throughout one’s life or do they differ as one moves through life’s different stages? I have personally found that motherhood has given me a totally different perspective on happiness and its sources. What I once took for granted is now extremely precious. Things that were previously stressful have passed, and that in itself is a relief and delight. I find myself in situations that I had never experienced or even thought about before and that now give me extreme joy.
As a mother of three-and-a-half-year-old twins, being able to sleep through the night for a few days in a row for example is now a true blessing. I have spent endless nights getting up every half hour to feed, burp, change one after the other, and to calm them down as they were teething or starting to have nightmares. What a few years ago was the norm is now an exception.
The fact that one of the twins is finally out of the “Terrible Twos” phase is a huge relief. I still get the dirty looks and the disapproving shake of the head from elderly ladies when the other twin has a fit in the supermarket and throws herself on the floor screaming. Previously I used to doubt myself and feel that I was a failure at disciplining my children when I got those looks, but now I realize that it’s just a phase, and if one of them has snapped out of it, there’s hope that the other one will as well and that at some point in the future we will be tantrum-free.
I still remember the days when I spent hours trying to feed the girls that notorious vegetable soup and ending up with soup all over my clothes. Now it is truly delightful when I cook something for the first time and after tasting it, one of the girls says, “Mmmmm I love it! Thank you Mummy!” Or when I urge them to eat the zucchini that came with their chicken in a restaurant, and one of them says, “But I don’t like the zucchini they make in restaurants, I only like the one you make.”
As they are getting older, despite the fighting and hair pulling, I love the bond that is forming between the two of them and also with us as parents. It’s endearing how they ask about each other if one is out of sight, or when I give one something and she automatically asks about her sister’s, or that day when Cuddles told me she was upset with one of the boys in daycare because he took a book that Giggles was reading. We also have lots of fun role playing, singing, dancing, joking and laughing together. Needless to say it melts my heart when one of them gives me a tight hug and a kiss out of the blue and says, “I love you, Mummy.” I also find their inquisitive minds and endless questions fascinating, though it gets tiring at times when we reach a dead end with the “But why?” questions.
Because of course, it is not all roses. On most days by the time I put them in bed I am exhausted both physically and mentally. There are days when my patience is really tested to the limit. Although I now have a few free mornings during the week, I end up using most of the time to do household chores and I still miss out on my “me time.” And the question of how and when, if ever, I will get back to work is always at the back of my mind. But I remind myself now and again to be patient and to enjoy the little everyday things now. As they grow older things will change; they will become less tiring and more independent, and whatever is causing pressure now will someday cease to exist and become a source of happiness. As Kahlil Gibran put it, “When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.”
By Didi in Zurich
Didi is an Egyptian mother of twin girls living in Zurich. Before having the twins she worked in the field of economic development. She is currently a stay-at-home mom focused on the growth and development of her daughters.
Illustrations by Kiki Kaisserian based on photos used with permission.
Kiki Kaisserian is an Australian artist and maker who works in many mediums. She has two adult children and lives in a small country town. Her work can be seen here.