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Little Moments of Joy

Anytime I’m faced with a tough situation, people are quick to point out how resilient I am. It’s true, but I don’t think anyone ever sets out to be resilient. It’s not a skill you’re necessarily born with, although I do think humans, by nature, are incredibly resilient. In the past few months as I’ve been faced with another painful situation I will have to overcome, I’ve thought a lot about what makes me so resilient. And then I had a day that answered that question.

Earlier this week, I started a new job. I also had a writing deadline, had a lot of work to do for my current job, and had to tackle some tough emotional tasks in addition to the every day demands of life that are even harder due to the fact I’m now a single mom. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to watch some of Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s Memorial— which as complicated as my feelings for Kobe are, you can’t deny the scope of his legend and the tragedy that befell him and his family. And then Harvey Weinstein’s verdict was announced— another complicated maze of emotions that on one hand, some justice was served, but the fact that he was only found guilty of two of the lesser charges and it took nearly ninety women coming forward to even get to that point… well, like I said, it’s complicated. Oh, I was also on my period. Emotions were a mess, my workload was full, and my energy was completely tapped out. It would’ve been easy to curl up in a ball and sob until I let out all the anguish I was feeling. Instead, I made my writing deadline, got my work done, and found little ways to get through the day— having a much-needed phone date with my childhood best friend, texting another close friend, and taking breaks to breathe.

By the time I picked up my son, I was depleted. Again, it would’ve been easy to put him in front of the TV, order food, and get through his bedtime routine like the zombie I felt like. But my son deserves more, and so do I. I put my phone away and stayed present with him, focusing on what he wanted to do and trying to strike that balance of being firm and loving— a constant struggle with a toddler who is now trying to feel his own way in the world and wants to challenge every parameter and rule. Was it hard? Absolutely. And exhausting. But by the time we reached the last step of his bedtime routine— cuddling and singing to each other before I lay him down in the crib, we were laughing and connected. I started giving him Kunik kisses— rubbing my little button nose against his even smaller button nose— and the action was so amusing to him that he broke out into the biggest giggles of joy. Let me tell you, when the little human you created breaks into laughter like that, while looking into your eyes and singing “You Are My Sunshine” back at you, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. It was like all the stress of the day— the heartbreak, the triggers, the turmoil— it all just vanished in that moment and it was just my son and I, singing, rubbing our noses together, and laughing so hard, tears sprung to my eyes.

That’s how you find resilience. It’s not in the big moves or gestures— it’s in the little moments of joy. The ones that are fleeting, but powerful. This exchange lasted all of a minute, but that minute repaired an entire’s day of pain. It gave me the strength to finish the chores I needed to do, and go to bed that night feeling content. And then I was able to wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Life is always going to be filled with challenges and unpredictable events. We don’t have any guarantees— promises can be shattered, vows can be broken, hard work can go unrewarded, good people die, and bad people don’t get the justice they deserve. It can be overwhelming and we can fall victim to those feelings. But, life can also be pretty wonderful. Two times in the past couple of months, I’d been at a breaking point (in public, nonetheless!) and I have looked up both of those times to find close friends standing before me. That’s pretty incredible. But we have to be open to looking for those small moments of joy amongst the hard times. That’s what gets us through. That’s what makes us keep pushing forward with broken hearts, spirits, and minds. Instead of focusing on the bad this week— of which there was plenty— I am focusing on those nose kisses and giggles.

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