I've discovered the secret to happiness.
I don't want to oversell this.
I've discovered the secret to happiness in the following highly specific situations:
a) At a child's birthday party when your kid doesn't want to participate in the outdoor scavenger hunt and sprinkler festivities and chooses to hang out alone in the living room repeatedly pressing the button that makes the Wall-E robot say "EEEEEEE-vah!"
b) When you are at the grocery store at 7 pm on July 3rd (I said these were specific situations) hanging out in the checkout line next to people with nothing but beer and barbeque fixins as far as the eye can see... except your basket, which holds only one box of Kroger brand hemorrhoid suppositories, a 1-day yeast infection medication kit, and a bag of fruit snacks.
c) When your friends arrive for dinner at your house and they see this in the guest bathroom:
I have spent a lot of my life worrying about the gap between how things should be and how they are.
Chicken! Chicken, come on, it's time for the scavenger hunt! This is what you do at parties; you participate in the activities! I know you're only three, but please, do me a solid, and come hang out with the other kids for a little while? It's party time, not playing with other people's toys time.
Me? Oh, I'm just... buying for... my sister... she really likes fruit snacks...
(Can't type, too busy frantically cleaning the entire house in 4 minutes and then apologizing profusely for the state of my home to the point that my friends are exchanging glances like "is she on something?")
For years that gap between perfection and reality seemed like a vast whistling chasm, or like the crack of my ass when I am sitting in the grass with my back to a very popular jogging path on a sunny Saturday afternoon: huge, embarrassing, undeniable.
But you know what?
Everybody has an ass.
Everybody has a crack in said ass.
And holy shit, the day I chose to accept that my kid is who he is, that my body is what it is, that my house is what it is... that was a glorious day.
Every time I have the opportunity, I've been saying it out loud:
Chicken isn't a joiner. He isn't every teacher's dream student. He gets overwhelmed in large groups and prefers solitude or just one or two friends.
I fucking love fruit snacks. Oh, and the other stuff is mine too.
My house isn't clean and there's no good reason for it. I just didn't feel like cleaning. Sure, I'd like my house to look like a showroom, but do I want to spend my time cleaning, or do I want to spend my time writing, reading, playing, going on adventures with my boys, seeing movies with friends, or just plain not-cleaning? I'm not a great housekeeper. I'd rather do other things.
So there it is.