They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.
The room is hot and humid. Compared to the winter’s cold just two panes of glass away, it’s a shock to my system. But a welcome shock. Like a long hug you weren’t expecting.
“For today’s class, we’re going to focus on choosing joy.”
I immediately see my daughter’s face two nights prior. While attending an event to support a friend’s essential oil business, my daughter wanted to make her own oil roller. After looking carefully at each colorfully labeled tiny brown bottle, she chooses a light pink one. The label reads, Joy. When I tell her, she’s sold. They try to change her mind and ask her to smell a few others. She isn’t interested. She’s picked the best one. And on her first try. I love the confidence in her face. She’s fierce. She’s awesome.
“We can have control over our thoughts. You just have to choose joy. You could choose anger. You could choose resentment. But why? When you can choose joy. Always choose joy.”
The next 90 minutes are full of poses meant to enhance my balance. I watch my body contort into positions that make me laugh, some of which bare my hidden tattoos. But each reminds me of my strength. I’m grateful to have this time to myself.
I get in the car and crank the volume up. It’s my favorite Billie Eillish song, Everything I Wanted.
And you say, “As long as I’m here
No one can hurt you
Don’t wanna lie here
But you can learn to
If I could change
The way that you see yourself
You wouldn’t wonder why you’re here
They don’t deserve you.”
I chose joy. I choose joy. In four hours, I get to experience a surge of pure joy. My two greatest blessings are going to be back home and in my arms. I’ll get to tell them how much I love them, hug them, smother them with kisses, and get back to normal, single-mom life. I make good use of my alone time, but, there’s no better feeling in the world than having them home.
My daughter runs through our coral front door and straight into my bedroom. She grabs her blue oil roller from my dresser and asks, “Mom, you want some Joy?” Her brother assumes she’s talking to him and replies, “I want Joy!” And we slather ourselves in a floral citrus essential oil diluted with fractionated coconut oil as well as pure unadulterated joy. We’re choosing this moment. We chose Joy.
I look forward to watching my children grow. I look forward to learning about their personalities, their strengths, and their weaknesses. I look forward to listening to their stories. I look forward to learning what joy looks like to them.
I credit my children for giving me a purpose and for keeping me strong when I could’ve been weak. I credit my children for my awakening. As an adult, our brains tend not to be as malleable as our former child-selves. But one loophole in adult brain plasticity occurs during pregnancy and the postpartum period. My children changed the way my brain works. My children changed me. I’ll be forever thankful for the opportunity they’ve given me. And for the woman they made me.
By giving them life, they’ve given me life. And they’ve given me joy.