Counting Happies


Me as a Goth.

I used to be a Goth.

I say “be” a Goth, but perhaps more accurate would be that I used to try very hard to be a Goth. By inclination I was really more of a Hermione Granger, sitting in the front row of every class with my hand permanently in the air to show off how clever I was. So when I decided at age 16 that I needed to be more cool and interesting, I went about it in much the same way as I would approach a homework assignment: I researched what Goths were into, what they looked like and listened to and set about adjusting my own appearance and interests accordingly. Through this meticulous research I found some wonderful new friends for life, like Neil Gaiman, and some fair (or perhaps I should say ‘foul’) weather friends that did not outlast the fad (Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banshees).

For about four years, I listened to gloomy music, wore black ball gowns to school (no uniforms in Holland) and surfed the Dark Side of the Net (not a metaphor, this was a real actual thing. Come to think of it, it’s probably still there.)

But I was never a real Goth. I am just too positive and sunny by nature. Nothing could stop me skipping, or singing, or enjoying life. I am a glass-half-full person. My husband, who leans more towards the glass-half-empty side of things, says that this is something he loves about me: that I can always cheer myself, and him, up. My secret? Counting Happies. There are so many happies in life, in every day. Rejoicing in those instead of moping about the Sads has always kept me going.

Yup, I know. More Pollyanna than Goth. No self-respecting Goth would count happies. Or use such a phrase, come to think of it.

The wheels came off the wagon when we started trying for a baby. We found out I had poly-cystic ovaries and although it was possible to conceive naturally, it might take a very long time or require medical intervention. I wouldn’t say I was depressed, but I was very sad for a long time. I so desperately wanted a child. My husband didn’t know what to do – I had never been like this over anything. I couldn’t get myself out of the slump. I was normally the cheerer, he the cheeree. With the roles reversed, we struggled.

Then, my son happened. Without any help.

This tremendous Surprise-Happy kept me going for ages, as did the arrival of my daughter – but lately, I have realised, my glass has seemed a little empty. I have felt weighed down by stresses and strains of every day life with two small children: the Baby waking in the night, the Toddler testing boundaries, the stress of making enough money with freelance work, keeping on top of the housework… Then my fatal mistake was to calculate how many hours I had in the day that were not devoted to the children. The hours for cleaning, translation work, writing, spending time with my husband and my friends and just general chilling.

Total per day: 4 1/2.

Somehow, putting a number to it really got me down. It seemed impossible to do all the things I wanted to do in the time available. I started to feel a little desperate, even resenting those little people that I had longed for, for stealing my time.

I have been moping and feeling gloomy. I have been more of a Goth than I ever was back when I dyed my hair black and used eye-liner to decorate my face.

Then I look at my daughter. She is the single most joyful baby I have ever seen. (I may be slightly biased.) At this very moment, she is standing up, beaming with pride. She points at the cat and shrieks joyfully. She finds my stash of clean nappies, grabs one and waves it around: her all time lucky find of the day. Then her brother comes downstairs and it is like Christmas morning. Her life is one big happy, everything she discovers is the best thing ever.

She is just like me.

So enough is enough. I am wearing an orange dress, the sun is shining, I have been blessed with a wonderful supportive and inspiring man to spend my life with and two adorable children who brighten my life. I am able to work from home and spend these precious early years with my son and daughter, time before school that I will never get back. The cats are gloriously obnoxious and furry. The house is a home. I am living abroad, but also live close enough to my family and friends to see them reasonably often. And now I have found this wonderful way of making sure I keep writing, and met a community of other bloggers who are a source of inspiration and entertainment but also a whole new group of friends.

My life is full of countless happies and there is joy in every moment.

Goth never did suit me.


7 responses

    • Glad to bring a smile to your face, even if it was only a little one. If you want, I’ve got quite a few goth dresses still boxed up in the loft… 🙂

  1. What a fabulous post. And you’ve educated me: I didn’t know that Goths existed in the Netherlands! You’re right, being morose doesn’t seem to fit in with your sunny, enthusiastic demeanour. Everyone gets down sometimes, but it’s true: the lovely littles are definitely something to beam about!

    • Goths are a world-wide phenomenon I believe. Although I was the first and only one at my school. Ah, life is just too good to go around moping all day long!

  2. Loved this post! Totally honest, yet funny, you are so totally NOT a Goth! Counting our blessings is the old fashioned phrase here, but it is SUCH an important daily practice, isn’t it?! And yes, our kids are only here for a while (even if it feels like an eon!) Do you know about Michelle Twin Mum’s Reasons to Be Cheerful linky? You would totally be up for this if you don’t know about it. This is a must to go on it – check her out at

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