Shiny Happy People

Hey-o! I know it hasn’t been long at all since we chatted last, but I have two reasons for posting again so fast. Number 1: I read my last post before bed last night, and I realized that I should have titled it “Manic Panic” – wow, that was really all over the place! Sorry for panic rockin’ peeps, I guess I am feeling a bit untethered at the moment. I’m restless, I’m irritable, I’m jumpy…that all came across pretty loud and clear I think though so I’m not going to beat that horse any longer, pretty sure it’s deader than a doornail.

Reason Number 2: I saw a bumper sticker yesterday and I literally thought about it for hours after. This is my real reason for writing today; I just can’t get it outta my head (sorry, I’m still a bit stuck on the soundtrack thing – once you admit it, it becomes really noticeable) and I want to talk about it. I also want to redeem myself a little and prove that I can stick to a topic that makes sense. Mostly though, I just want to talk about the bumper sticker.

We get it Manda, you saw a bumper sticker – go you. What the frig did it say already??

Jeez Louise, I thought I was impatient. Ok, what it said was this “Happy People Are Hiding Something”. Ta-daaaaa! My big reveal. Real exciting stuff happening here today!

It got me thinking though, for pretty much the rest of the day. Whoever came up with that simple little expression is definitely a pessimist, but also kind of a genius. You can attach a lot of depth to those five little words and, although this could just be the obsessive part of my personality talking, they really are cause to stop and ponder. The sticker creator could also just be a colossal jerk who hates happy people, or they maybe just thought it was funny and catchy. Maybe there’s a “Bumper-Sticker-O-Matic” somewhere in the factory and no thought whatsoever went into the making of that particular sticker. I guess I’ll never know. What I do know is that I’m getting distracted again. Focus.

Although I hate to admit this, the first thought that went through my head after reading it was “got that right mofo” and then I spent a few seconds reveling in my newfound knowledge that I’m not the only rhymes-with-witch out there who thinks things like that. The thing is, although I may think things like that from time to time, I don’t usually say them. Except to my husband; He has the dubious honour of being privy to the majority of my innermost thoughts, and he still loves me. That man is a saint I tell you. So after I basked in the glow of my meanness for a second or two, the guilt started to slowly creep it’s way through the antipathy with all the grace of a two-storey house falling out of the sky, and the Wicked Witch of the West inside me began to shrivel because I actually do have a conscience and deep down I’m generally a not-mean person.

As that all began to happen, I actually started feeling sad because I realized that that stupid sticker is actually probably true. Happy people are almost definitely hiding something; in fact, we’re ALL almost definitely hiding something. Nobody is truly an open book; that’s why our psychic abilities diminished as we evolved, we all need a secret place to hide (I love conspiracy theories and out-there ideas btw, I may try to market a line of tinfoil hats one day but that’s besides the point here).

How many times has someone asked how you are and you’ve responded “Fine, great, awesome, amazing” and then, if you have even a superficial relationship with said person, gone on to mention some things that are going true to your words? I’m gonna guess pretty damn often, cause I know I do and I’m basically the Eeyore of my circle lately. Close friends may get the more real-life answer; you’re unhappy at work, your kids are making you crazy, your hubby left the seat up again, etc., but what about when things are really bad? Are you going to sit there and bombard every person who asks how you’re doing with the downer thoughts and perceived injustices you’ve been squirreling away to chew on when you get a minute to stop and think about it? Probably not. You’re probably just going to say “Fine thanks, and you?” and save all that other stuff for a box of wine and your bestie, or your cat…cats are great listeners because they just don’t give a fuck.

But what about those people who always seem to actually be fine, great, awesome, and amazing? What’s their deal? Well, some people actually are happy – some people are optimists by nature, and some people are exactly where they want to be doing exactly what they want to do. And even though you may sometimes want to high-five those people in the throat with your fist, save the throat-punching for actual assholes, because I guarantee even those happy people have something going on somewhere and emotional jealousy is not a valid reason for throat-punching. This is the part where I really started digging in…because I thought about all the “happy” people I know, and realized that I did feel kinda jealous and there’s a fine line between jealousy and resentment.

The thing is, those happy people might actually be miserable – they just don’t advertise it. Then I started getting anxious; What if my happy friends have problems that I don’t know about? How can I help if I don’t know? What if they feel like they have nobody to talk to? Oh God, what if I have a happy friend who’s actually lonely?? Hang on a sec, I need to go hyperventilate into a paper bag for a few minutes…

Okay, I’m better now. Realistically, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve answered “Fine” and meant it. And that’s probably being very generous. I don’t feel like that’s even an odd thing; everybody does it.

The reality is, we can never really know whether or not someone is fine unless they tell us. And if they aren’t, and don’t want anyone to know, then all we can do is be there when or if they ever decide they want some company to go along with their misery. Imagine if we all just went around incessantly bitching about everything…how exhausting. All that negative energy would probably cause the universe to explode or, at the very least, all of our heads. I just got a mental picture of a simultaneous worldwide head-explosion. Eyuh.

I’m glad I saw that sticker. It really made me stop and think (obsess) about the fact that happy people might need help sometimes too. We all have our “things”. It also made me stop being a bitch for five minutes and appreciate the happy people in my life. Do I get jealous sometimes? Sure. But I usually feel better after spending time with a glass-half-full person. Most of the time it helps me remember that my own glass is more than half-full. In fact, it’s overflowing. I have an amazing family, fabulous friends, and more support than I can ever even hope to utilize. My anxiety and depression make me forget that a lot, and at the end of the day that’s what I truly resent. I resent not fully enjoying what I have, because there are so many people out there who have it way worse. And some of those people can still find it within themselves to see the good things. I applaud those people. You are amazing. Truly.

So thank you, happy people. From the bottom of my heart. The world needs you, and you are appreciated more than you probably know. You probably don’t even realize the difference you make to others, and how your positive outlook can really put things in perspective for those of us who struggle with that sort of thing. And please don’t ever feel pressured to put on a happy face if something really is wrong. Maybe that’s just your nature and you can’t help it, but don’t ever feel like you can’t drop it like it’s hot if the need arises. People will be there for you, just like you’re there for them. Unless you hang out with dickwads, and in that case, get yourself a better entourage; you deserve it.

Happy people make the world go ’round (magnetic force does too but let’s give happy people some credit), and without them we would be a pretty miserable species. Everyone has problems, some people are just better at making the best of things. We need that. So work your magic on us happy people – that’s some hocus-pocus we can all believe in, no tinfoil needed.

Love ya peeps,

M

Finding the Magic

I woke up this morning to a fine dusting of snow over the ground. No chocolate eggs anywhere to be found. No baskets filled with that fake grass stuff that seems to multiply as you try in vain to throw it all out. No Kinder Surprise waiting to hatch “toys” that are really just tiny weapons of foot destruction, like legos but seasonal. Just snow. “April Fools!” shouts Mother Nature. Biatch. Does this mean Jesus stuck his head out of the cave and decided there would be six more weeks of winter? That doesn’t sound right…maybe I should brush up on my theology. The snow on the ground is clouding my brain.

I think what the whole lack of Easter egg hunting really means, besides the fact that I can no longer count on surprise chocolate rewards for dusting, is that my kids aren’t little kids anymore. They’re teenagers. We got them chocolate bunnies and pre-paid Mastercards for Easter; it’s the beginning of the end. Maybe Jesus (the groundhog??) had the right idea – disappearing into a cave until the teenage shitstorm is over sounds like a pretty good plan actually; but no, I can’t do that. Raising a semi-functioning human being for at least 18 years is what we sign up for when we shove those little love terrorists out of our howling honey pots. Hunkering down in a cozy little cavern with some snacks and a taser isn’t part of the deal.

I always thought I would be so relieved when the whole Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy/etc. ordeal was over. And I am, a little bit – it’s way less work – but I didn’t count on wishing the magic was still real to my kids. Losing that piece of childhood wonder seems to be hurting me more than them and I wasn’t expecting that. We spend so much of their childhood teaching them how to grow up…but once they actually start doing it, the instinct to reel them back in becomes almost desperate. We all know that growing up is a trap, and I think it’s natural to panic a little when we realize that our kids are heading straight for it and we handed them the damn map. Here ya go kiddies – follow that magic right into the lions jaws #bestaprilfoolsjokeever!

Perhaps slightly dramatic, ok, but kinda true. We hold their hands and kiss their boo-boos, and convince them that magic is real, and then we kinda just pull the ripcord, throw the first aid kit at them, and beg them for the love of fucknuggets to pay absolutely NO attention to the man behind the curtain, because that man is us and most of what we told you is a lie. Congratulations, you just graduated childhood; welcome to the jungle. Sound about right?

A little heavy, perhaps, for a holiday; but you know I’m all about being honest with you. I guess it has to be this way; I mean, it’s not like you can tell a toddler to get a job, or explain to a baby what it’s like to live in a world with no Easter Bunny. We want them to stay kids as long as possible, while at the same time pushing them to become self-sufficient about as gently as you pushed that time that Labour Day took on an entirely new meaning and you finally understood what the Grand Canyon feels like on a personal level.

Parenting is a tough job; there’s no foolproof way to do it. There’s no returns or exchanges. Most of the time it’s thankless, sleepless, and horrendously unsanitary. The rewards are seemingly small; watching them (finally) sleep and wondering how you ever made something so perfect, that little smile when they say “I love you”, the unexpected hugs, and a million other little things that are a million times better than the words “thank you” (you won’t hear that magical phrase until they have kids of their own, but they’ll probably mean it so there’s that). Those little things are the real magic. The cataclysmal tantrums, the whining, the peeing, the barfing, the spilling, the snotballs…those are just nature’s way of reminding us that the nest does need to be emptied at some point. Preferably before 30, but nowadays that may be just wishful thinking. FML.

So keep the magic alive as long as possible; we all know that the road to adulthood is usually not easy, and a little bit of soothsaying along the way to cushion the journey never hurt anybody. Especially since it’s a one-way ticket to more types of fuckery than most of us ever dreamed was possible, and we don’t get any fancy ruby slippers to send us back. Teach your kids to live in the real world, but at the same time leave some room for wonder. Pretty rich, especially coming from the girl who literally counted the years until she could kiss Santa and his fat red ass goodbye, but now that he’s gone I wish I had taken more time to enjoy the idea of him and his magical sidekicks because they were my last chance to make magic that my kids believed in. Someone once said that it’s still magic, even if you know how it’s done. I think if we could teach our kids one life lesson, that one might be a good place to start.

At the end of the day, the pretend childhood magic is just that. Pretend. The real magic is being here, being part of the human chain, and possibly creating the greatest magic of all – our whiny, snot-nosed little rugrats who grow up way too fast no matter what we do. Enjoy the magic, embrace it, love it, and never give up on it. The proof that it exists is right there in your living room, eating all the Cheetos and hogging the WiFi.

Stay Magical Peeps!

M