I had a bit of a moment whilst walking home from work today. It went like this: I phoned the 12 year old to make sure he'd got home safely from school, and to tell him I was on my way. We had a normal conversation, but he said something at the end that made me smile. I can't even tell you what it was; something innocuous, but in his boy's-not-man's voice, with a hint of cheek, and a lot of love. And for a split second, it made me happy. Which, after the couple of days I've had, was no mean feat.
But then, as I heaved myself up the hill, I thought: have my children made me happy? Do any of our children make us happy? And if not, why are we programmed to have them?
Because the burden of having them both, particularly now I am a single mum, can sometimes weigh heavy. Sometimes, they argue and fight so much that I feel like taking myself out of the house and walking away. Very occasionally, they send me over the top so I feel like I've lost control. In my Granny's day, this is when the stick or the belt would be used; these days, I shout like I'm rabid, then go ominously quiet. Occasionally I slam doors.
But mostly days pass with the usual rubbing-along-ness that all families have. Homework nagging. Tea making. Some jokes. A little bit of thoughtful conversation. Moaning. Arguments. Music. Lots and lots of Minecraft. More nagging. Occasional dancing. Laughter.
And all the time, in the background, I worry about them. I'm anxious on all levels, from the tiny (homework, spots) to the medium (eating healthily, school, friendships) to the humungous (can I afford to feed them? Are they safe?).
Having children has given me purpose in life. No doubt about it. Without children, I would be looking for something else; adventure, charity, business - something to give me direction and clarity. I would not be without them, I am proud of them, I would die for them.
And my children DO make me happy, sometimes. But then so does cake. And sex. And my birthday.
I'd argue that happiness is not the same thing as fulfilment. Because although I feel fulfilled, the stress levels I feel at the responsibility I have, can negate some of that happiness.
Having just read this back, I'm shocked at the selfishness of my own post. Aren't we all supposed to be Earth Mothers, and isn't simply having children supposed to make us beamingly happy? So happy that we live for our kids? I wish I was like that. I really do.
But for me, happiness is a mixture of life's rich tapestry (or some such bollocks) and it doesn't, I'm afraid, rain down out of my kids' arses.
Perhaps my attitude has got skewed? I'd love to hear your views on this one.
Follow me on Twitter: @secretdivorcee [two 'e's!]