MollyGreen.com | Summer on the Homestead | Summer 2016 10
obligations aren’t what you necessarily
want to do? What about the fulfillment
that comes from helping others?
I doubt pure happiness is possible,
although we’ve all experienced moments of it. But maybe we should make
a concerted effort to find and recognize
happiness where and when we can.
Maybe you don’t like your job but you
love your spouse. Maybe you don’t like
your home but you love your job. Maybe
you don’t like where you’re living but you
do like your neighbors. Maybe you don’t
like your appearance but you shine in a
hobby or skill. Maybe you know you did
the best you could under some difficult
circumstances. Maybe you struggled
through and fulfilled a promise, duty,
obligation, or vow even when you didn’t
want to. I don’t know, pick something—
anything—and appreciate it for the
satisfaction it brings you.
I guess the point here is to avoid regret.
How many of us want to look back after
years—or decades, like the character
Merowyn—and regret not appreciating a
point in our life when we were happy but
didn’t know it at the time?
The reason behind this whole philosophical screed is because our oldest daughter is now launched very solidly into
the world. It’s brought change into our
household—we miss her dearly—but
we recognize she’s entering adulthood as
a sensible, responsible, religious, moral
young woman with the world at her
She is working as a certified professional
nanny for a well-to-do family in New Jersey. The family employs two nannies: a
live-out and a live-in (our daughter is the
live-in). The nannies care for four boys
under the age of eight.
It’s a good match for our daughter, who
enjoys boyish rambunctiousness. The
parents are hard-working, highly moral
people who adore our daughter. The kids
are (mostly) well behaved. The home
is beautiful. The pay is generous. It’s a
wonderful job for her. But the family
isn’t happy. They’re decent, they’re
law-abiding, they’re financially well-off
… but they’re not happy. The parents
are stressed after long hours of work
and have little patience with that boyish
rambunctiousness when they get home.
They haven’t acquired the calm expertise
that hands-on parents need to handle
children with minimal tension. For their
part, the children have little down time
for general play and relaxation since so
much of their day is scheduled. And, as
much as they love their nannies, they
love their parents more—but don’t get to
see them as much as they want.
“It’s strange,” our daughter told us over
the phone one evening. “I never realized
I grew up in a happy home, or how everyone we know has a happy home. But
the parents [her employers] don’t know
what happiness is since they’ve never
experienced it themselves. As a result,
the boys aren’t growing up in a happy
She finds this sad but unavoidable. For
our part, we found this to be very insightful for our 20-year-old daughter, and it
bodes well for her future when she gets
married and starts her own family. That
intangible quality—happiness—is something she no longer takes for granted.
My mother did not grow up in a happy
home. She experienced physical brutality, alcoholism, and starvation (literally).
As a teenager, she vowed she would
never impose on her own children what
she grew up with. And she didn’t. She
made the conscious choice to marry a
good, decent man. (My parents still hold
hands after fifty-eight years of marriage.)
She and my father raised their children
in a home that was free of strife, angst,
confusion, and addiction. They faced
adversity, of course—who doesn’t?—but
it didn’t keep them from striving toward
their goals. Their reward is watching their
grandchildren being raised in homes
with similar qualities.
How much of happiness is a choice? My
mother had a rotten, traumatic childhood—but she chose not to let it interfere with a solid, content adulthood.
A woman once told me, “My pastor used
to say that happiness is a by-product on
the road of life. He said it wasn’t a goal
in and of itself, that happiness occurs
when we are faithful to God and fulfill
our responsibilities and have an attitude
of gratitude. I know that when I take
the time to look around and realize how
much I have to be thankful for and how
blessed I am that I feel much happier.”
I don’t think pure unending happiness
is ever possible on this mortal earth. But
contentment is. Satisfaction is. Embrace
those and appreciate them for the happiness they bring.
Patrice Lewis is a wife,
mother, homesteader, ho-
meschooler, author, blogger,
columnist, and speaker. An
advocate of simple living and
self-sufficiency, she and her husband, Don,
operate a home-based woodcraft business
and farm twenty acres in rural north Idaho.
Patrice and her husband have been married
twenty-four years and have two daugh-
ters, 16 and 20. Follow her blog at www.