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raison d’être

Charlie on her first morning of “stay and play” school.

October already? We have an action-packed month, including a move, some of my first doula clients, and getting in shape for my reunion row in a month. To give myself an outlet for discussing all that’s happening and to hold myself accountable in my desire to exercise every day, I’ve decided to join up with NaBloPoMo, that thing where you blog every day for a month. I hope you’ll read along!

If you know me well, you might know that today’s post title happens to be the name of one of my favorite beers. But I’m not writing about beer this time, I’m writing about my discovery in the last two years of what really matters to me. My reason for existence, my everything, my be all to end all.

It’s been about a year since I wrote the post that then became the title of my blog. At that point I was feeling judged for my decision to stay home with my kids full-time. I’m pleased to report a year later that I either have tuned out the criticisms or am no longer receiving them. My skin is probably a bit thicker, and I have more confidence in my role. I’ve found my niche and my group!

I have another theory as to why I’m happy staying home. My favorite point Daniel Gilbert makes in his book Stumbling on Happiness is that humans can synthesize happiness regardless of their environment, and this ability becomes easier the less choices we have. One illustrative example he uses is an analysis of the happiness of two groups of people, those who have either a) won the lottery or b) lost the use of their legs. Which group do you think is happier a year later?

If you supposed it’s a no-brainer who’s happier, you’d be wrong (that reminds me of a Deep Thought). The surprise is that one year after their incidents, the two groups are equally happy. Fascinating, right? His point is not that you can’t dream about one day winning the lottery; instead, his research finds humans are bad at predicting what will make us happy. If you don’t have time to read the whole book, which I highly recommend, you can watch a Cliff Notes’ version (including the point above) from a TED conference

I am thankful now that we moved to Boston because I may not have made the choice to stay home otherwise. One factor that makes the decision easier for me to stay home, and that I think makes me happier about my choice, is that child care is prohibitively expensive up here. Were I to live where I grew up in Atlanta, my income might be a draw me away from the home, or it might make me feel like I’m missing out on something else. Choice does not necessarily equal happiness.

While I have been good at translating this notion to simple living and simplicity parenting, it can be harder to eliminate choice in the work force. It’s no wonder I chose a degree in psychology; I was paralyzed to choose a specific skill set when presented with so many options, resulting in my choice of a skill-less degree that would theoretically provide me with lots of options upon graduation. But which, we all know, DID NOT. Womp womp.

I am still occasionally plagued by career indecision. Would I be happier as a nurse or a public health professional? Should I focus on becoming a doula, lactation consultant, or a prenatal yoga instructor? In my case, I was lucky to have selected fields with vastly different costs, timetables, and flexibility of training. My choice to become a doula made the most financial sense for us at the time. Plus, it’s somewhat flexible with my homesteading lifestyle.

And guess what? I’m happy! I returned at 2:30am this morning from the beautiful 24-hour birth of a little baby girl, my first birth attended that was not one of my own children (which reminds me of another Deep Thought). What a wonderful way to begin this career. I can’t even describe the experience fully yet because I’m trying to process it on three hours sleep. I will have to elaborate later and sum it up in a few sentences today: What a rush. What a miracle. Women are amazing creatures. Amen.

I plan to continue doula-ing and homemaking while the kids are not in full-time school. In just four years, I’ve watched Vivi grow up so quickly, and I know that before long I won’t have the chance to do this job any more. The kids will be ready to be away from the home all day, and I will be ready for new challenges. And maybe even more choices.Some women are dripping with diamondsSome women are dripping with pearlsLucky me! Lucky me!Look at what I’m dripping with…Little girls!
~From Miss Hannigan’s song “Little Girls” in the musical Annie 
(one of our favorites!)


p.s. I know I just said at the start of this post that I was planning to exercise every day for a month, but I’m about to go back on that already today and NOT exercise. I’m giving myself a pass considering I just spent virtually every minute of the last 24 hours standing, walking, hunching over, pressing on, and supporting the weight of a laboring mama. I have sore muscles I never knew existed before! And with a combination of 5 hours sleep in two nights, I’m like the walking dead; I can barely even stand let alone exercise. That’s the thing about a 30-day challenge. You just have to take it as it comes and stop beating yourself up about setbacks. Speaking of, did you hear the great TED talk by Matt Cutts on taking a 30-day challenge? In a cool twist of fate, I actually listened to it on NPR on my way home from my client’s birth early this morning.

p.p.s. Did you notice I mentioned TED talks and Jack Handey twice in this post? I love them both ardently.

Editor’s note: This post is a part of October NaBloPoMo