by Laura Sylvester
A long, long time ago - in a galaxy far, far away… a time when we were all happily married to our college sweethearts and attended very sophisticated dinner parties for yuppie twenty-somethings, a then-husband of one of my best friends made a provocative suggestion to the group; enough so that it remained stuck in my brain until this very day. I remember contemplating at the time that his statement was either genius or the coldest, unemotional calculation regarding human relationships that I had ever heard. Because he is now divorced from our pack, I have emotionally chosen to conclude that it must be the latter. Here it is, “Happiness equals expectations divided by reality”
I guess, depending on where you are in life, this equation can be taken in different ways. Tonight, as I survey the nature of my own joyous state, I realized it calculates out just as his “insensitive” equation predicted. Let me explain. Elliot woke up last night at 2am and never went back to sleep. Being that all of the boys came to bed at 11pm, that meant they each had exactly 3 hours of sleep. (btw, I exited the room at 3am to sleep in the guest room and I had gone to bed at 9pm in preparation for a big presentation at work… so I was good to go in the sleep category). On my way home from a successful work day, (my presentation went great) I found myself taking the long way home… you know the thing “Men” do when they dread re-entering the chaotic household they left that morning. I was horrified at myself. I never wanted to feel that way or be that person. I called my Mom and then my best friend. I needed re-assurance that I wasn’t a horrible person. So, suffice it to say, coming home – my expectations were low.
BUT, when I got home Orbit raced to the front door with a glorious greeting fit for a queen. Elliot was, of course, on the couch in tears – after all he only had 3 hours of sleep!!! I ran in to comfort him and it felt good, a Mom comes to save the day kind of thing. Even when the yelling reared it’s ugly head, I was sympathetic and comforting. The “reality” was squarely in my face. Rick and I talked about how we could uplift this family in spite of the perception of this “reality.” Of course, the number one pick-me-up for the Sylvester family quickly arose – Disneyland! We would go on Friday... all of us!! So, my reality turned out to supersede my expectations -- I was HAPPY. I called my Mom and I text’d my best friend just so they would know I was no longer choosing to be miserable.
And now, Elliot is asleep in bed and I am on the computer Googling “service dog and Disneyland,” just to make sure we know the “rules”. Oh boy, Friday is gonna be a new adventure!!!
After some serious mathematical mind-bending, I have some things to add to the ominous equation… happiness = expectations divided by reality PLUS 2 margaritas and your kid going to bed at 7pm! Cheers!