I grew up in Hawaii where there are no trains. I had never seen a moving train my entire life, nor had I ever been stopped by one. Then I moved to the Midwest. To a state that has more railroads than almost every other state in the United States — most of them being in my county. Let’s just say that I learned to hate trains pretty early on.
For this girl who ran on Hawaii time (meaning you were always, always late), getting stopped by a train was just awful. I was already running late, and sometimes you would be stopped by a train for 10 minutes! Can we all agree that getting stopped by trains is the worst?
Now I am a mom of two kids who are 15 months apart. My son happens to love trains. He can hear the faintest train horn from miles away. And when he does hear or see a train, he gets so excited!
On our drive to the grocery store we have to cross a set of railroad tracks. Sometimes there is a train sitting there, sometimes there is one crossing, and on very rare occasions, there isn’t a train at all. Regardless of the situation, my son Brody always talks about the trains as soon as we get to the crossing. Sometimes he says, “The train isn’t moving,” while other times he says, “There’s no train today?”
Last week we were on the way to the grocery store and I thought, “I hope there is a train so Brody will get to see it!”
Hold up. Did I really just wish to get stopped by a train? I hate getting stopped by trains! They make you late for everything, they create traffic jams, and really just put a kink in all your plans. Am I crazy? Yes, I am pretty crazy, but that’s a whole different story.
And then it hit me — seeing my son happy is worth getting stopped by a train. It may be a 10 minute inconvenience for me, but that’s okay if it means that my son gets to be happy for 10 minutes.
My happiness now is so different from my happiness before I had kids.
I thought eating Taco Bell at midnight made me happy.
I thought getting gifts at Christmas made me happy.
I thought hitting my goal weight made me happy.
I thought buying new shoes made me happy.
Now that I have kids, my definition of happiness has changed. It has evolved. I still love Taco Bell. Although I’ll take it at 6pm since I’m asleep by midnight. I still love getting new shoes. Although they need to be one heck of a deal.
Real happiness is watching your kids scream in joy as they run through the waves at the beach while you’re sitting in the hot sun getting sand in all the wrong places. Real happiness is seeing your kids’ faces on Christmas morning while not even wondering if you got any presents.
Real happiness is sitting in the car. Stopped by a train. Watching your son smile at a train that’s making you late.