Looking Forward to Happiness

by Katy on May 8, 2010 · 17 comments

I was walking to my car after work the other day, and suddenly realized that I was actually looking forward to my rush hour commute. Not because I’m a connoisseur of car exhaust and stop and go traffic, but because I was in the middle of a really good audio book. This got me thinking about the power of having something to look forward to in one’s life.

I recently read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, and have been more analytic about what it is that makes me happy. Rubin does write about how having something to look forward to is an integral part of the whole happiness equation. (I would quote something here, but I actually lent my copy of the book to my step-mother, so I guess I’ll just have to look forward to its return.)

I look back to the only time in my life when I would characterize myself as having an issue with depression, and that would be when my kids were around three and five years old. I was working full time, the kids were a never ending handful, the house was always grimy, there was never enough money, (my husband was in school) and the only thing I had to look forward to was more of this unsatisfying grind.

It was not a good year.

But I pulled through, and I think the key was that I added activities that gave me pleasures and something to look forward to. I began buying Hanna Andersson girl’s clothing, which I then sold on eBay. (The company is based here in Portland, so it’s really easy to find the dresses at area thrift stores.) I became closer with my friend Sasha, and we would get together for walks in the morning, and I began to get more exercise.

These activities got my out of my funk, and gave me something to look forward to besides the never ending cycle of mothering small boys, cooking and cleaning and feeling like I was never doing any of it very well. (Give the boys my full attention and the house would be a wreck plus there would be nothing for dinner. Or conversely, park the boys in front of the TV so that I could cook and clean only to feel like I was being a crappy mom!)

Happily, these days are far behind me. I am far from perfect, (my house is always a bit grimy and the challenges of mothering young teenage boys are a mystery to me) but I have much in my life to look forward to. I have a fresh new lawn growing in my backyard, a summer’s worth of hosting English soccer/football coaches and an unlimited number of walks with my friend Sasha to look forward to.

Plus, I still have a disc and a half of my Marian Keyes audio book left to listen to.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan May 8, 2010 at 10:06 am

Thank you for writing this. I have three small boys and often feel the way you describe – like it just goes on and on and on. I’ve been trying to find ways to make it feel less overwhelming and reading about your experience is encouraging.


Katy May 8, 2010 at 10:23 am


It gets better. It really does.



BagelGirl May 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

This really resounded with me. It’s true that we women can do alot, multitask, take on the world. But the question is, how much of it are we doing WELL? It is so nice to hear a woman bring up the issue.


amanda May 8, 2010 at 2:21 pm


I have tears in my eyes! I am sooo there right now. It is so good to know that someone has made it out alive!!! I feel sometimes as if no one has been where I am now. I know that isn’t true, but it feels that way. I know it will get better but it’s still a struggle day to day and it doesn’t make these feelings go away. Anyways, thanks for the insight and the advice. I love your blog and follow it often.



Katy May 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm


You are absolutely not alone.




Kristen@TheFrugalGirl May 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm

I’m just going to echo Katy and say that yes, it does get better! My kids are now 10, 9, 6, and 4, and they are much, much easier now than they were four years ago when I had a baby, a 2 year old, a 5 year old, and a 6 year old.

Hang in there!


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl May 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I’m going to reply to myself and say holy moly! I can’t believe I ever managed with my kids being 6, 5, 2, and newborn. Sheesh.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t trying to blog back then! lol


Kayleigh May 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm

How the heck did you homeschool your 5 and 6 year olds with a newborn and toddler? Seriously, did you have to wait for them to nap first or did you teach them when your husband got home from work or something? I can’t fathom how you managed that at all.


amanda May 9, 2010 at 2:33 am

Thanks so much for the encouragement! It means so much.


Becky May 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Nice to know I’m not the only one struggling with balancing being a good mother & a good “homemaker” (for lack of a better term). I never seem to be satisfied with my choices – focus on the kids & all I see are cobwebs & unwashed bottles – focus on the housework & I fear I may have missed an excellent opportunity to have a meaningful moment with my kids.


Grace May 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Great post and Happy Mother’s Day!


Jennifer May 9, 2010 at 4:02 am

Great post! Thanks Katy. You are a wise woman.


tammy May 9, 2010 at 4:46 am

My kids are now 31 and 23 but I still have not forgotten the utter exhaustion and despair of being a full-time working mom. Even now, I look back and I don’t know HOW I managed to raise kids, work 40 hours a week and manage a home. Unlike Wise Katy, I didn’t seek friends, exercise or activities to look forward to and ended up with a breakdown! SEEK FUN and have something to look forward to every day even if it’s just for a few minutes. Realize you are not super woman and that in every bit of life there is give and take. Give the kids some TV and take some time for yourself. Give yourself a dinner of cereal, milk and fruit and take the time you would have spent in the kitchen and read something inspirational.

KUDOS to all who are doing it. My heart and appreciate truly go out to MOMS!


Marie-Josée May 9, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Tammy, I raise my hat to the moms who manage to work full time with small children and agree with you. I returned to work part-time when my youngest entered first grade, and began full-time work when he began third grade. I remember not ever really sitting down during the evening, between preparing dinner, lunches, homework, laundry and attending practices. I remember falling into beg at 9 p.m. utterly exhausted.

I know for most part-time work is not an option for many, but full-time work sucks up so much energy when you need to care for children at home.


Ruthie May 10, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I love Marian Keyes! 🙂


Julia May 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I was reading this line: “the never ending cycle of mothering small boys” when literally at that moment, my son called up from downstairs, “Mom, could you come here?” and that made me feel like laughing and crying at the same time. I keep thinking this is going to get easier because he’s 8 but he has some special needs and progress can be painfully slow. I’m trying to look at it as a blessing—that the kid was sent to us because we are sensitive enough to raise him—but there are days, especially since he’s homeschooled and with me all the time, when I wonder what the heck the Universe was thinking, entrusting this delicate soul with a tired old lady like me.


BarbS June 16, 2010 at 5:40 am

I just started reading this book (“The Happiness Project”) and it is fascinating! It took forever to get from the library, but was worth the wait. I think I’m going to have to read it through once quickly, to get the big picture, and then go back and re-read it more slowly for the details.
Thanks for the recommendation!


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