Thursday, August 1, 2013

Squeezing the Balloon

One wonders why it's been so long since we've posted.

Is it writer's block? Hardly.  Is it lack of subject matter? Nah, one subway ride alone per day is enough for subject matter in this here city.

Then what?

Well, as one friend puts it, we've been "squeezing the balloon".

It's simply really.  Do one thing and you have time to blog.  Do 10 things get the idea.

We're starting to think we need to learn to say no to things.

We'll spare you the single mom story because you can imagine well enough yourself how raising a child and running a household alone may be just a tad time consuming.  Then there's the "extra" mom stuff we don't technically have to do, like volunteer at school and go to Parents Association meetings.  The few boxes post-renovation yet to be unpacked, the attempts to have a social life as well (dating as a single parent actually provides for some high comedy we sadly will not share but wish we could). 

Work has been busier than ever, and while most of its good, it takes a lot of effort to focus on one's career and continue a certain trajectory.  Then there's a couple of classes we're taking every week, one of which involves reading many pages of scripts per week -- really good scripts, might we add - and working intensely on our own.

To spell it out for you peeps (in case you can't interpret metaphors) all of the above squeezes one side of the balloon and the blog is the thing that pops on the other side when that happens.  So, if we had to give a short answer as to why we haven't written in a while, it's physics.  Just plain physics.

But it's ok.  We're obviously not in it for the fame and fortune, because if we were trying to turn this blog into some kind of cash cow - well, then that was an epic fail, wasn't it?  We've violated every blogger rule on the planet such as keeping content fresh, reading blogs, engaging with others.  Clearly we're not going that route.

And while it's still a great place to experiment with writing, in general it doesn't feel as necessary as it used to.  Much of our subject matter used to focus on facts to help raise awareness and sensitivity for children with food allergies, by showing what it's like to have to deal with one.  Fortunately, the public consciousness has been raised dramatically on this point over the past couple years, without any help from yours truly.  More products are available that are safe, many more food manufacturers and restaurants follow good practices to avoid cross-contamination and can clearly state what's safe and what's not, and governments are even taking notice by passing laws to ensure epipens are available in every school across the country (seriously, that just happened two days ago!!!)  And, ironically, the more emails we get from companies wanting us to promote food allergy products or news, the less necessary writing about it seems to be.  Because it's out there now, people are acting on it, the train is running away without us!  We've come such a long way in the past 5 years its astounding.  And while there is much work to be done, it's rolling on without our help.  7 years ago we'd tell anyone who'd listen that food allergy information needs to be as ubiquitous in restaurants as "First aid for choking" signs, so that everyone would know the signs of anaphylaxis and what to do.  Today, you can't even go to a Pinkberry in New York without seeing one of these signs.  Mmmm.....Pinkberry.....

NYC restaurants have these in kitchens all over now, in English and Spanish
So if this were only a mom blog about raising a child with food allergies, well - we're not needed anymore.  Wait - you've stopped reading, haven't you?

Let's stop yawning and instead sum up all of the above in a way that's actually relevant to y'all.  That's right, we're going to talk about happiness.  That's where you were going too, right?

Last night we had a good discussion in a class about happiness.  While we easily concluded that material objects and certain goals would never bring about happiness, no one could clearly articulate what could.  The book Stumbling On Happiness posits that humans are actually crappy predictors of their own happiness, and have been for centuries.  An interesting theory.  And while the book is wrong on some points (winning at gambling actually DOES make you happy!), we started thinking about other examples where we've been happy and what they might have in common, and found one common denominator: effort.

Our friend Mir the great* always says "effort brings opportunity," and though one must always be skeptical of advice doled out by personal trainers with super human hotness who are nice and smart and funny to boot, in this particular case the advice is sound.

The other day a friend came over and as they were resting mini asked them why they would hold a pillow.  They explained that they usually had a stuffed animal that was home and they were sad without it and wanted a pillow.  Mini promptly walked out of the room without a word, returned holding a small stuffed animal, and held it out to our friend to make them feel better.  Mini's blubbering mother, felt an unusual mushy feeling upon seeing this that we of course had to dissect.  Could it be....happy?

Had this not been our child, we wondered, would this moment have brought us joy?  Similarly, if mini had been a perfect robot who always did what was asked and never ever posed a challenge in any way, would we have had that sappy moment?  Of course not.   The joy came from being able to appreciate this moment despite countless moments of ineffective discipline, despite enduring hours of opposition and talking back, despite lying awake nights worrying about her future, her emotional health...her happiness.  Despite all this, here she was, displaying empathy, maturity and kindness.  Even if it was one rare moment in a sea of tantrums we took it!!  Had we not been suffered through those tantrums, it wouldn't have meant nearly as much.

Thus, much like comedy doesn't exist without a strong dysfunctional family, a happy outcome isn't happy at all without the effort it took to get there.

To bring this whole thing back full circle, we've come to the conclusion that we need to start writing again.  Because when y'all actually connect with a blog entry sometime far into the future - after being tortured over and over again with crappy posts like this one - success will taste that much sweeter.

*We're not just trying to butter her up because we owe her money; really, we're not.

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