The Key to Happiness

I remember my older sister marveling at the depth of love one heart can hold, after the birth of her second child. I felt the same way when our second son was born. I questioned, like lots of parents, how I could possibly love another person as strongly and deeply as I loved our first child. I still can’t explain how it works, so I chalk it up as one more miracle associated with bringing life into this world.

For me, loving another person frees me from focusing solely on myself. I think it’s similar to the joy people describe when they volunteer or donate or perform any act of service. It feels good to give and loving someone provides endless opportunities to experience that joy. So it’s impossible for me to understand how or why my husband left in search of his happiness, believing his heart has a limited amount of love to give and prioritizing himself instead of having to share himself and his love with his family.

Whatever he has to share with the world – his energy, attention, empathy, love – he sees like a pie or cake, divided into a set amount of pieces, and the more pieces he gives to others, the less he has for himself. While I see what I have to share as fishes and loaves. I can’t tell you how it happens, but every time I share a part of myself, whatever I have to give multiplies. On some level, it’s almost selfish, because I know that when I give to others first there’s actually more for me to enjoy.

I’ve always loved the lyrics in “My White Knight” from The Music Man: “. . . and I would like him to be more interested in me than he is in himself and more interested in us than in me.” My father loves my mother that way and he loves his daughters that way, so I know what it looks like. I will teach my boys to love that way and I won’t accept anything less for myself ever again.