We all know the big things that make us happy as moms: healthy kids, enough to feed them, a roof over our heads. But there are some lesser, “unsung” pleasures in the world of motherhood, too, the small joys that bubble up unexpectedly. And they’re often joys that have nothing at all to do with your kids. Below, nine things that make moms unreasonably happy.
1. Matching all the Tupperware to the lids and discarding the mismatched crap. When I open the cabinet over the sink, old yogurt containers, jelly jar lids, and rogue Tupperware rain down upon my head. Discarding the crap, neatly stacking the good containers with their lids, and just generally straightening that cabinet is hugely satisfying.
2. A blowout. I used to have great hair that I took care of. Now it’s usually scraped back into a sweaty ponytail, and the highest grooming bar I can regularly clear is “she doesn’t smell bad.” But every once in a while, I’ll get a blowout, and it’s as good as a facelift for how much better I feel about myself. I stand up straighter and put on a nice outfit. If I had someone to do my hair every day, I think I’d feel confident enough to run for president.
3. New underwear. Is there anything more satisfying that chucking ratty old skivvies and replacing them with pretty new undies? The only thing that runs a close second is tossing all the single, hole-y socks and buying a few new pairs of really high-quality, soft wool socks.
4. “Going through that.” My friend’s husband, a neatnik, will occasionally point to something like the linen closet or a pencil pot, and say “I have to go through that.” I am not especially a neatnik, but I love “going through that,” whether it’s the gritty, receipt-filled diaper bag or the overflowing junk drawer. My friend and her husband just got a new Ikea silverware divider to neaten up the silverware drawer, which makes them sigh with pleasure every time they open the drawer. Because, they went through that.
5. Being alone in the house. Sure, you can hire a babysitter to come to your house while you go out. But how often are you in the house without your kids? Not so often. On the few occasions when the sitter takes the kids out and I happen to be alone, I’m torn between tossing myself on the couch with a good book or the fun of #4, going through something.
6. An unexpected, unavoidable delay in which you’re forced to drink iced coffee and read US Weekly. A friend of mine noted that she’s never so happy as when the dentist or eye doctor is running late and she can camp out in the waiting room with a latte and a stack of magazines.
7. Someone else cooking. When you’re the chief cook in the family, whether due to proclivity or scheduling, it stops being fun and starts being a chore. The worst part is feeling like you’re out of ideas: chicken again? Maybe pasta? You can’t bear to eat another mouthful of your boring recipes. So someone, anyone, making you a meal is a huge treat.
8. Snaking the drain, or doing any other small, nagging chore you’ve been putting off. My friend Kim gradually got used to standing in ankle-deep water for every shower, and forgot that life could be any different, until she finally got around to snaking the drain. In my case, the doorknob to my home office was broken for months, maybe even years. Opening the door meant spinning the knob around and around, jiggling and swearing, until it finally caught and opened. Finally fixing those things feels almost as exciting as moving into a new house.
9. Catching all the lights. Or the train comes right away and by some miracle isn’t crowded. I (like all mothers, I believe) have exactly zero cushion in my schedule. When the gods smile on me by making my train arrive the second I step on the platform, I feel like I’m winning this whole harried-mom thing.
So yeah, I give thanks on the regular for the major blessings, of course. But being able to open a cabinet without junk spilling down onto your head is a unique kind of joy. A joy that makes me unreasonably happy.