Happiness Is The Unknown

We threw away our children’s crib today.

We couldn’t give it away because ours was a drop down, which has been banned from production by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Basically, my children slept in death traps for years although since I could only find a handful of photos of them in the crib and more than half of the photos had hair pulling and baby crushing, we could’ve taken care of causing catastrophes all on our own.

This is when I toss my camera to the side because clearly N is alive.

I posted back in December that Scott took down the crib (and mocked me). I don’t think I mentioned that I wouldn’t allow Scott to get rid of it even though it would take a surgery to allow us to make a baby and our crib was deadly-ish.

With all I left behind to be a stay-at-home mom, not having the crib scared me. I know that I made the best decision for my family back in 2006. Time and again, my life has unfolded not as I planned or wanted but as it should. And although I spent much time fearing that “as it should” would be disappointing and lonely and embarrassing, the roles I played, when I have let go, are my strongest and most joyful.

My senior year of high school, my A.P. English teacher asked us a series of essay questions about ourselves and the one that kept coming to mind today was: “Where will you be in 10 years?”

I wrote: “Happy.”

A decade later, at 27 years old, I was putting together that crib while wielding my belly full of my son, and I was very happy. I didn’t know, at 17 and living in Connecticut, happiness would look like me laughing in a small row home in Richmond, Virginia next to a man I could not love more. I didn’t know how I would find happy. Over those 10 years, I went to college. I went to medical school. I dated people. I made friends. I forgot about friends. I went to concerts. I learned about the world. I studied religions. I laughed. I cried. I made so many attempts to be happy, and I failed almost as many times.

I kept forgetting where happiness began. I needed to stop looking for how the world would make everything okay and start noticing that everything was okay. And on those days when everything wasn’t okay, I needed to stop asking the world to fix it. I needed to stop thinking that help is on another continent. Or was in the next town over. Or in another school degree, job, person, or baby. The journey to happiness is just a step and most of the work is on the inside.

For the past 6 years, the crib was a sign of who and where we were. A young family with babies. A growing family. A family that needed me home. But today, we threw the crib away. We are not a family with babies. We are not growing. We think that we still need me to be home most days because my daughter is home most days, but we do not need to make space for a crib.

I was reminded, as I saw the crib resting against our trash cans and wanted to feel sad and worried that I had made the wrong choice either to stay home or to not have more babies or somewhere in between, that my happiness is in me. The me who doesn’t know what my world looks like without the crib is the same me who didn’t know what my world would look like with the crib and the same me who at 17 just wanted to be happy.

And I am. And I will be. Not knowing how I get there is half the fun.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

17 thoughts to “Happiness Is The Unknown”

  1. I’m supposed to be sleeping or writing right now and since I couldn’t seem to do either I ended up here reading instead. I’m so moved by this. As a fellow struggler I can relate to your quest to find happiness. For me, it used to be something to search for and seek out, but as I have gotten older I have noticed that it is always there waiting for me to accept it. I choose it or it chooses me. Sometimes I don’t or can’t choose it and I worry and get anxious and make myself suffer, but in the back of my mind I know happiness is still there waiting for me and that I will be able to choose it again. It’s not gone. it’s not something I have to tackle to the ground or wait around for like I once thought I did. I now know I can find happiness in any moment and at any time if I just let myself. I’m usually my own biggest obstacle.

  2. I loved this so much…
    We got rid of our crib not that long ago but this time I wasn’t sad about it. Because I know that I am done… no more babies. I am ready for them to all be fully independent.
    Your last sentence… “Not knowing how I get there is half the fun.” That couldn’t be more true.

  3. We had one of those beds, good to know we were jeopardizing our daughter’s life every time we put her in it. Awesome 😉 I didn’t get to see what happened to the crib, I hope it’s not still risking lives. Maybe it’s helping to warm someone as kindling.

  4. do you nod when youread something that really touches you? You find yourself Nodding along with every word?
    that’s what I did reading this, that I felt every word of it, felt the “yes, All I wanted to be was ‘HAPPY’, now what does that mean?”

    I think that is why I try so hard to be optimistic about life every day, even when it’s been a completely Sh***ty day, because I know that as long as I’m here…as long as I “TRY” I can make it better. I can be better and make my life better even if it’s in little amounts.

    I needed to read this today, thank you for writing it. Enjoy your cribless house my friend and BE HAPPY, you look pretty when you smile! 🙂

  5. Oh Alex, I needed to read this today. Letting go of the known is terrifying, but it’s how we all must go forward. I’d like to muscle my way to happy or certain, but uncertainty it is. And happy is what I want.

    May your cribless space invite new wonders and may you find those steps to happy.

  6. My mother always reminds us that each stage of being an adult, being a parent, is new and exciting if you let it be. She said she never dwelt on the sadness of losing a stage, because she knew the next one would be just as fun and exciting, though different. I try to keep that in mind. While I may get teary about certain stages going away, I look for and find the new, happy, incredible moments still coming. And I know there are more to come. My mother says that even when your children are grown and gone, you still get these stages – new jobs/careers, marriage, grandkids, etc.

  7. You can’t even know how much I needed to read something like this today. I’m struggling with decisions I’ve made and not made, and I feel myself drifting from that happy place. You’re right. It’s inside, and I can get back to it.

  8. Oh I love this, sometimes you put together words that I want to hang on to and frame. “The journey to happiness is just a step and most of the work is on the inside.” I see this under a statue of you somewhere in Richmond :).

  9. Great post! I definitely feel that way most days. We had no problem getting rid of the crib, but it is more of the small things. It is my daughter growing up and wanting zebra stripes instead of the embroidered ladybugs on her comforter or my son’s want to play Minecraft instead of wanting to play board games with us. It is watching them grow up and make choices that make me realize that they are not my babies anymore.
    As for staying home… I am glad that I chose to do it (even though I chose to stay home when my youngest went to Kindergarten). I am finding that as they get older, they need even more attention and even more support. They love that I can help in their classes and that I don’t have to miss a field trip or a class party anymore.

  10. <3 … I was a sophomore in college and was in a stress management class … we all went around the room (after meditating on the subject) and said where we saw ourselves in ten years … I was second to last … everyone was talking about their careers or where they would live … I said I pictured myself with children, being a mom … at the time I felt like I was somehow "less than" my classmates, but it was also a moment that I still remember sixteen years later … it was almost like I had a moment of clarity about what my priorities were … there are downsides to being a stay at home mom, downsides to giving up a career, I've written about them, now that I'm divorced … but I wouldn't trade it for anything … the good outweighs the bad … and I'm glad that I can use the word "happy" even in the bad times 🙂

  11. “The me who doesn’t know what my world looks like without the crib is the same me who didn’t know what my world would look like with the crib and the same me who at 17 just wanted to be happy.”

    I am the same, same way. I just live it as it comes. It’s made some things incredibly easy (I never had a ‘dream wedding’ fantasy to fulfill), but also leaves me at a loss when people ask me where I wanna be in five years. I usually tell them my career and plans are fluid and ever changing. 🙂

    Thanks for a beautiful piece!

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