The problem with happiness is how to write about it. Happiness is a shot of pain up the lower back, an encroaching ache, one that arrives when you’re shoveling hard snow after making him a bacon and shallot omelet. “Wouldn’t it be lovely to have breakfast like this every morning?” he says and I promise that, if I could, if my body could bear it and I could serve him like my king every morning, I would.

I couldn’t always feel a happy mother in me. I thought a mother was the neglect-of-self inside, you know, putting others first, squirrelling away disappointments and pains to watch them emerge as addictions and obsessions thinking no one could see such things piling up, all that was a mother in me, but shuffling around the kitchen slowly assembling meals which arrive an hour too late, washing dishes, picking up crumbs underfoot, folding towels and daydreaming about conversations with my lover while anticipating his return, this is mother, this is her happiness, a mysterious new region I’m beginning to explore.

Happiness is life’s latest shape; a new balloon with fresh, new air; an airplane with new safety harnesses; new whispers spoken between us; secrets; shapes I could never write about—remember when happiness was sharp, manic highs punctuated with shame and longing? Remember when happiness was the (false) safety of pure isolation? Remember when happiness was hope? Hope for another possible future where one would be safe and whole with another…

Hope is now reserved for the children and their futures. I want them to be self-sufficient and self-loving. I want them to be kind and conscientious. I want them to look around themselves and see infinite possibilities of becoming. I want them to eat well and sleep more. I want them to go to school and appreciate the abundance of resources available to them. Hope is for the children and happiness is for us.