• Alicia Assad

Seven Hundred Thirty Days of Joy

On the hardest days, I find a million reasons to savor and bask in gratitude.

This, I have concluded, is happiness.

Tomorrow, Rose turns TWO, and I can't quite figure out how she got this old so fast! I swear it was only yesterday Eddie and I were stunned into silence as she emerged from my womb and was placed in my arms.

But then again, so much life has happened since then.

These past two years have held a fair share of adversity, but still, we've remained transfixed by the rainbow Rose brought to our world. She lit up our horizon with joy and that emotion has lingered predominantly for the 730 days we've been blessed to watch her grow.

Even Catherine, William, and Henry are captivated by their baby sister. Rose has become the life of their party, which was pointed out by William last week. She slept in unusually late one morning and he asked, "Can I go wake Rose? The party doesn't start until she is up!"

Indeed, this little party animal of ours is spoiled rotten with love, so we’re beginning to set boundaries around her increasingly mischievous behavior.

Rose loves to get a rise out of her siblings, but most especially, me. I see the glee in her eyes as she runs right past me to jump into Eddie’s arms. While she is genuinely a "Daddy’s Girl," I often catch her glancing back to see my reaction about being shunned. This is when I like to ask her,

"Rosie! Do you know how much I love you!?"

She smirks and then will shout, "YESSSSS Mamaaaaa!"

“Can I give you a kiss then?” I press.

“No way!!!!” she firmly states before burying her head under her folded arms on Eddie’s shoulder.

Now, “I duwe it!” is the latest phrase she has conquered to voice her increasing need for independence. Since I thoroughly savored the time I had her in a sling nestled up against my chest, I’m ok with letting her move further away from me.

But when she started pulling away with those wobbly first steps one year ago, I’ve needed to fill that cavernous space in my heart. That's why my focus has shifted from creating, carrying, and nursing babies to nurturing some dormant dreams the demands of early motherhood overshadowed.

As Rose learned to walk, run, and jump, I have been learning to crawl as a writer. Ironically, it was an article Rose inspired that pushed me from dreaming into action. I Didn’t Believe in Rainbow Babies was about experiencing joy after loss and published on Huffington Post.

"Just as we need to actively fight despair, we must work at allowing the experience of joy," are the words that jumpstarted my writing career one year ago. They are also the words I have held onto as I have transitioned out of the baby making stage of my life.

I have written before about the bittersweet process it has been to let go of early motherhood, and I'm finding it easier to move on with something concrete to reach for. At least, that's the reason I've been writing so feverishly this past year.

I've been fortunate to kindle a writing career from the comfort of home. I compose in the early morning hours and throughout the day as I shuffle the kids around, because writing inspires flow and meaning, even in 15 minute increments. I've cherished the years I've been a SAHM, but with all this effort I've poured into my writing, I'm starting to crave some independence now myself.

That's why I'm taking a bold step out into the world away from my family. I'll be away for two nights next week, because it's the ten year anniversary of the days I studied positive psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Therefore, I'm going back to reunite with a community of like-minded individuals who are hard at work applying the science of happiness around the world.

Yes, I'm really darn excited about this trip, but I'm also rather anxious.

Having been Just Mom for the past nine years, I'm not used to juggling the mom/work pressures. Already, I'm starting to experience the complex push and pull I hear working moms describe. I officially do everything imperfectly and generally feel like I get shot out of a cannon every morning. Now, I'm adding physical separation to that mix, so I have a feeling it's about to get even messier.

Despite this chaos, there has been more joy in my life than ever before. Maybe it's because I'm following my calling. Or it could be that I just feel really darn lucky that I got the four kids I dreamed of raising. On the hardest days, I find a million reasons to savor and bask in gratitude. This, I have concluded, is happiness.

I fully intend to ride this upward spiral of positive emotion as long as I can. And, in those moments of intense uncertainty I feel about transitioning from a SAHM to a Writer/Mom, I'll look down at Rose. My "Joy Baby" never fails to remind me of all there is to gain by searching for the rainbows we know are destined to light up our horizon.

In that Huffington Post article that jumpstarted my writing career I wrote, "I have learned that if we are fortunate enough to discover a rainbow, we must pause and appreciate the beauty and mystery of the blessing we have received."

Today I write to tell you that basking with gratitude in the blessings life brings will multiply your abundance.

My heart is bursting with love for my family, pride in my work, and the most humble hope that I'll be able to juggle it all.

Now, it's time to go celebrate the little girl who inspired me to thrive.