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  • Donna

Life is Difficult, Mommy

Updated: Nov 27, 2020

The kids are putting a Hammerlin towable wheelbarrow in position to receive wood mulch from the broyeur.
The kids are getting the wheelbarrow ready to fill with mulch

I often hear myself telling the children “You need to learn to focus on the positive things so you can learn to be happy.” The exact phrasing varies but the gist is always the same: there’s always something bad to focus on and there’s always something good to focus on; learning to choose the good things will help you be happier.

Recently, I got frustrated and mumbled something about the task I was doing being difficult. Darwin overheard me and said “Life is difficult, Mommy.” That was one of my proudest parenting moments. Contentment can come our way quite passively, but achieving happiness requires skill, and skill takes practice.

“Yes, life is difficult,” I responded. “But it’s also awesome. It’s both.” And then I probably launched into the same old spiel about the importance of focus.

For example, our life is horrible. Our kitchen has been under construction for more than six months and last week we had no water for two days. We have no furnace because we believed the person who told us we were booked in for the first week of November, but he has not come through. It is cold. We have exchange heaters but a couple weeks ago the electrical panel that supplies them started smoking, so we had to cut off all power to the house until we could cap all eight wires that serve that particular circuit. This only happened because Dad and I removed the earthen ceiling from the lean-to this summer; if we’d just left that room alone, we might be warm right now.

And for example, our life is awesome. Our kitchen is almost finished and when we’re in there, we feel the love of all the friends and family who helped us demo and build this summer. We plumbed it ourselves, which was ridiculously empowering. We ran into some problems but we worked together and our time dry-camping in the national parks made it pretty easy to get by. It is cold. Like, our children are getting hardier by the day, cold. Our British neighbors, who don’t even celebrate Thanksgiving, invited us to their house for dinner so we can celebrate the holiday in the warmth of their home. The heating technician who isn’t responding to us? I don’t know what’s up with him; I hope he’s okay because this isn’t like him. On the bright side though, he isn’t RGE-certified; we recently learned that by hiring an RGE-certified professional, we can save 30% on the cost of our new equipment.

The electrician is coming tomorrow, on the exact day she said she would. She plans to fix the circuit board, which I surprised myself by successfully capping, and Wendy’s and my solution to avoid further water damage (caulking a garbage bag flap above it) actually worked. We have two quotes from roofers to add flashing to the lean-to to permanently fix a problem we never would’ve known about if Dad and I hadn’t removed the earthen ceiling.

The positive and negative perspectives are both based entirely on facts. I of course flip-flop between the two on any given day, sometimes several times a day. But if I manage to focus primarily on the positive, I am happy. If I can teach my kids to do the same, I’ll be even happier.


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