Populating Life

I’m coming off a high induced by playing a rudimentary version of Hide and Seek with C. After dinner, I put in The Fox and the Hound just to see if she was interested in watching it. She wasn’t, but she was wily. She was ready to play that brand of play that possesses babies like the Holy Spirit at a big tent revival. There is something about the interim period between the end of dinner and the beginning of her bedtime ritual that makes the air electric and charged with that same guileless air she wears so effortlessly all the time. We all become possessed and absorbed in hunting each other down and possibly devouring each other.

I was seized when I was in my closet putting some clothes away. Something primal clicked in the reptilian part of my brain, and I just hid. I pushed myself between hanging sweaters and shirts, clicked off the light, and just waited.

And waited.

And waited.


Tiny fingers wrapped around the door frame and peeked inside.


The sound of a toddler screeching in glee is what is keeping the human race going. I was afraid her face would turn inside-out, her cheeks could physically not contain the grin it held.

I rushed across the apartment to her bedroom and hid in the space between her open door and the wall. I learned that in the twenty or so years since I earnestly played Hide and Seek, I evidently never outgrew my inability to giggle while I waited to be detected. She humored me, though, and basically passed out in sheer hysteria when I jumped from behind the door with my arms outstretched like a good-humored Boogeyman.


Sometimes I have the inclination to apologize for the good things that happen to me. I have been told that I am not very good at taking complements. When joy and good fortune enter my life, I often pass them off as something I never really earned.

But I am embracing the beauty of my life, including this little girl whose joy is so raw and unrefined and inherently her. I recently started reading Happiness Is Not a Disease. Every time I see its title in my Reader, I talk back to it as if it’s reminding me personally that my happiness is not on loan. It is my own, paid in full.

“Happiness is not a disease.”

“That’s true. It’s not. Stop apologizing for yourself, Emily.”

This happiness we experience every day is nothing to feel ashamed of. The electricity of a game of Hide and Seek is not an element outside of myself that chooses to overtake me when it pleases. It is part of me, and I am allowed to celebrate it even if the world outside of the walls of my life is screaming at me to put my own happiness on hold and mourn for it. It is when scary, disturbing things in the world happen that I am in most need of the safety net of an after dinner game with my baby. By relishing her joy, I am made a better human for the world that needs me.

I am populating my life with moments of joy and allowing myself to savor them.

What is your happy place? 



  1. My happy place is anytime I’m reading. I just float away with a good book, well, with my Kindle now. I rarely actually hold a real book anymore. But words transport me and I go off to my happy place. I can spend hours there, and do.

    1. I love reading, too. I’m also glad to hear that you’re not one of the Kindle haters. I love a good book too, whether it’s digital or printed on paper.

  2. unfetteredbs · · Reply

    I love your words this morning Emily.

    1. Thanks, Audra. ;D

  3. I can just hear the squeal! How fun! These are good years ahead with Cee. Some of my favorite videos were taken of Lily at this age. When they’re just starting to talk it’s so rich. You and your husband will be rolling on the floor in hysteria wondering why anyone would watch TV when they have a child to entertain them. I know I don’t have to tell you to enjoy it, because you clearly already are.
    I’ll live vicariously through you and delight in the magical world of that cute little gal we like to call, Cee. :D Thanks, Em!!

    1. Watching her try to get words out is the most endearing things ever. Her little tongue curls up in her mouth and she cocks her head while she spits out sounds. You’re right, it is truly adorable! She’s really at a good age! Please feel free to live vicariously through me any time!

  4. How beautiful, graceful and honest! You deserve everything good that comes your way, Emily. You do! Enjoy it!

    1. Thanks, Daan. You’re so kind ;D

  5. My happy place is a lean-to on a lake in the Adirondacks. Any lake. Any lean-to. Even if it’s rainy, cold, windy, humid, mosquito-ridden, or belabored by blackflies (pure evil in insect form).

    The Five Ponds, Hah-De-Ron-Dah, and West Canada Lake wilderness areas are without compare. We’ve gone for 5-day hikes in prime season and seen only 3 other humans the whole time. We never go to the High Peaks region, though – too many peakbaggers, day hikers, and uphill miles for our taste. This year I’m hoping to check out the Siamese Ponds and Blue Ridge wilderness areas.

    1. Nature is so, so wonderful. You just reminded me that I really owe it a visit.

  6. I love hide and seek. I love making my children smile and giggle! Happiness is what we make it; yes we should be grateful to have good things happen to us; therefore making us happy, but we all deserve to be happy! x

    1. Agreed! Hearing them laugh and smile is by far the most delectable thing ever. It makes me feel like all is right with the world. Thanks, Carla!

  7. I think we all deserve happiness, and embracing it when it’s so acute, makes us realize that even more. I loved your wonderful sharing. Hide and seek – what delight, Emily!

    1. It is really wonderful! It’s a treasure for a baby to be looking for you.

  8. This is probably the most adorable thing I’ll read today. I understand what you’re saying about feeling guilty about your happiness. I feel like that sometimes when I appreciate my job, because I have a lot of friends looking/struggling to find work. A big part of my happiness comes from writing.

    1. That is exactly what I mean. Sometimes I feel like a craphead for talking about how happy C makes me on Facebook and on my blog, because I know some people don’t like that kind of thing and find it annoying. But it’s not so much bragging as just relishing the small things in my life that bring me joy. I have no other experience.

  9. Thank you for sharing that story. I needed those images and sounds of you and C a lot this morning.

    And I agree about taking those moments. I couldn’t agree more. You keep yourself looking at all that goes on in the world all the time, you go crazy — in my own case, literally. I have learned to shut things out when I need to and relish the good, much as you describe. Because what we are doing is not being willfully ignorant or dismissive of all the need around us. We are taking a break so we can be better equipped to go back out and handle and help.

    And, perhaps most importantly, to hope.

    1. Right on! I read something recently about shutting out people and ideas that drag you down. You are supposed to visualize whatever’s troubling you as a little white mouse. Then, you visualize yourself putting a big clear bowl over it and just walking into another room. This little thought exercise has helped me immensely!

  10. Your words usually put me in a happy place !

    1. Awww, the feeling is mutual!

  11. I so want to come visit you and Cee and see her laugh and giggle. What a little cutie. Glad you are enjoying every little moment you have–I hear they pass by quickly.
    But then again, you could just make another one and start the fun all over again :)

    1. Omgosh. I cannot imagine having another one right now. I think I would seriously lose my mind. Unless you wanted to come and move in with us and help? ;D

  12. Omg. Hide and seek is standard in our house. I think it should be in most houses. Isn’t it brilliant fun?! Whenever I hear Danda’s keys go in the door, I just run and hide. I can’t stop myself! Almost every evening I do it. It’s addictive!

    1. It is WONDERFUL! Truly the best game ever, and you don’t even need any equipment!

  13. Baby C is my happy place. Playing with him, no matter what we do, makes me happy. His contagious laughter lifts my spirits higher than I would think they could go right now.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. Truly. ;D

  14. Next: a video of C giggling. It’s necessary.

    My happy place is a wetland preserve near my house. It’s also the place where I run 3x (lie!) a week , but only really counts as my happy place when it’s raining outside and I am miserable. I drive there, look out at the ponds full of water birds and cry my eyes out until I feel like a real nut case for sitting in my car in the rain crying while I watch water birds. WAY too much liquid at that point.

    My favorite games with my kids were “No Mercy” and “Eat the Baby.” “No Mercy” involved tickling my son until he couldn’t take it any more and then tickling him some more. “Eat the Baby” was my daughter’s game and involved hugging her, making ravenous pig noises next to her ear and pretending to eat her.

    1. We should try those games! Any game where you pretend to devour the baby is very, very good.

      Did I ever send you the link to the video of my husband tearing paper and making C giggle uncontrollably?

      1. I think I did see the tearing paper thing. I tried to play Eat the Baby with my daughter this morning. Didn’t go over since she’s almost 11 and every so much too old for baby games.

  15. “I am populating my life with moments of joy and allowing myself to savor them.”—And by doing so, you’re modeling wonderful behavior for your daughter, not to mention giving her a strong foundation and a sense of being truly loved.

    Okay, that was my sappy comment of the day. I’m only allowed one. ;)

    1. I’m glad you used your sappy comment quota on me! I have been a sap monster on the blog lately and it’s really the only logical response ;D

  16. Watching the little one smile and engage with you is the best. Our little girl has started to do the same and I can only imagine what it will be like when she is able to play hide and seek like you and your daughter.

    1. It is truly wonderful. You’re in the middle of a great stage right now too, but there are so many fun things to come. You think things can’t get better and then they somehow just do.

  17. I’ve been having trouble being happy with the mundane, everyday things in life. But this made me realize I need to start looking for the “happy” in the routine of daily living. Thanks, Emily!

    1. No problem, Rachel! There is a lot of beauty in those small moments.

  18. Happiness is reading a blog overflowing with so much positivity.

    Happiness is my son suddenly pulling away from breastfeeding to grin up at me.

    Happiness is sitting in a coffee shop right now while he’s with a babysitter so I can re-connect with my former self, ha! :)

    1. AMEN to that! I went to a coffee shop by myself awhile ago and it was wonderful. Babysitters (and husbands) are the best ever when they give us a moment to ourselves.

      This comment was brought to you by my husband watching the baby ;D

  19. Any kind of situation where I lose myself hopelessly with laughter. It’s hard to not fear happiness like it’s a shoe #1 waiting for sad/angry/bad shoe #2 to drop. We are taught it’s bad when we are humble or if we delight too much in delight.

    1. Those moments of rapturous laughter are sometimes better than sex. There, I said it.

      1. Even better at the SAME time :)

        1. OH NO SHE D-INT!!! :D

  20. I love this so much. Please know that these happy images of Miss C playing hide and seek with you is also populating my life with happiness! I think I used to feel like I should be waiting for some shoe to drop when things were going well in my life, but now I feel like my happiness is mine, and it’s there for the taking. I choose to celebrate every little thing in my day that’s worth celebrating, and I hold onto the knowledge that when darker days come, my family and friends will hold my hand through it. I think being happy and being grateful and being hopeful all intertwine, and that’s where I like to be :)

    1. That is exactly why I love you. You have played a major, major part in teaching me to slow down and look at the beauty in the world. When we used to write each other notes and share poems with each other when we were in teenagers, I was learning to actually look at the world with awareness.

      That’s probably what I should have said about you when I toasted you at your wedding :D

  21. This is so lovely, Emily. I feel like we’re at a similar place, trying to embrace joy and happiness, and so thankful for these little people who show us the way. Baby giggles need to be bottled and sold. It would cure the world of all ills.

    1. I heartily agree. That girl was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  22. This was so DELIGHTFUL to read!! Now I want to have the pleasure of playing with Wee Cee!!

    1. That day will come! Sooner or later we will make it to your coast :D

      1. Can’t wait!!

  23. I love playing hide and seek. Our version entails my son and I hiding under a blanket and furiously whispering “Sshhhh” at one another while my husband pretends he doesn’t see us.

    1. Hide and Seek is truly the best because it requires very little equipment.

  24. This made me so happy. I wish you all the happiness, and not a bit of guilt for enjoying the hell out of it. You deserve every last bit. (I’m just as guilty as you are; when something wonderful is happening, my maddening brain can’t help but say, “BUT AMY! What about that terrible thing? That terrible thing we’ve been dwelling on for months? WHY AREN’T WE THINKING ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW?” and I give my brain a dirty look but it doesn’t care. It’s oblivious, that maddening brain of mine.)

    My happy place…I have lots. My parents’ cabin in the mountains, where it smells like pine trees and sounds like hush and I can read and nap all day long; my couch, cuddling with a lazy cat; spending time with my nephew, who is pure joy in an almost-four-year-old body; in the audience of a theater, watching a brilliant performance with a smile on my face and amazed tears in my eyes. I find happiness in a lot of things. And I’m so thankful for that.

    Give C. a hug and soak up some kiddo-giggles for me. They’re just the best things in the world.

    1. I am so glad I found you and your blog (thanks, Le Clown!) because I feel like joy and life spills over from every word you write, Amy. You have such an exuberance that I adore.

      1. I totally agree. Le Clown is the best at introducing me to people I didn’t know, but that I irrationally love the minute I read the very first post on their blog.

        Thank you so much! I’m going to save this and re-read it whenever I feel gloomy. Sometimes I’m Tigger, and sometimes I’m Eeyore. Tigger usually wins out, though.

  25. My happy place is anywhere in New York City when I’m with any member of my posse. I think what takes us to our happy place are the people we share those happy place moments with — case in point you witnessing C’s delight when playing her first game of Hide and Seek, and a superior choice over The Fox and the Hound, which is a good kids’ film, but a distant second to Real Life Fun With Mom. Happy place memories are the ones that stick.

    1. So true. We all need each other to make those happy moments with. That gives them more permanence. They reverberate like echos in our relationships.

  26. Oh, I love this post Emily. I can just hear little C screaming. And, you’re right. These are the moments we live for, and if we listen, they’re there inside of us, waiting to be accessed. We need to cherish these moments and enjoy them at every turn. Your post has been a good reminder for me to do just that.

    1. Well said, Amy. They really are inside of us just waiting to be discovered and released!

  27. The squeal of delight from a small person is hard to match and live up to. It comes unannounced, intruding into our lives the joy that it is. Sometimes we just need to resist our construction and be with what is. Happiness certainly is not a disease and we don’t need to make excuses for it. Another lovely Emily post.

    1. Thanks, Tania! If parenthood continues to be full of little moments like this (it will), I am heartily looking forward to the next 17 years.

      1. And it will get louder! :)

  28. Loved every word of this post. My happy place today was busting into a dance with my daughter to her favorite song by Katy Perry. We held hands and twirled around, it was pure joy at being alive.

    1. Thanks, Darla! I just learned that watching C dance to Devo is also a big source of my happiness. The fun just keeps coming!

  29. anngoodrichbazan · · Reply

    Sometimes when I play hide and seek, I hide in the shower. In the dark. With a glass of wine!

    1. That’s another idea I will be filing away for later. I like the way your mind works.

  30. “The sound of a toddler screeching in glee is what is keeping the human race going.” Although I’m no mother (yet), I gotta agree with this–thanks to my 6-month old nephew/newest member of the household. ;) And thank you for the mention and for reminding me that happiness is NOT a disease. My recent post was somehow about questioning our right to be happy. Ironic, isn’t it? There are so many bad vibes from the world and sometimes it just gets through my happiness barrier. Good thing there are people like you, and Margarita, and others who are willing to make peace with being happy and spreading it to others. Thank you.

    My happy place? Well, sheesh, many but the first thing I could think of is lying in the arms of while cuddling with the man who knows every nasty thing about you and yet still lets you do that and even hugs you back. Okay, now I’m e-red. Gotta get rid of this taking stick.

    1. I know EXACTLY how you feel. I look at my hubs and I am so cognizant that he knows all the absolute worst things about me. And yet, he still loves me and entrusts me with our child. It’s really an amazing thing. Trust is indeed a happy place! Your blog is awesome and I’m so glad to have finally stumbled across it!

  31. dberonilla · · Reply

    “The sound of a toddler screeching in glee is what is keeping the human race going.”
    YES. I agree so much!

    1. Their little sounds are so musical and wonderful!

  32. I loved reading this post. You’re a good writer, and it sounds like you’re a great mom.

    My happy place is a kick- ass garage sale – where everything is a dollar or less, and there aren’t any party lite candles or made in China dream catcher collections.

    1. I need to find my way to that kind of garage sale. The proliferation of plastic dreamcatchers is surely the downfall of our civilization ;D

      Thank you for your kind words!

  33. I would love nothing more than to have the abilitity to recognize and bask in joy….I was just jealous of your couple of minutes of peace hiding in the closet…..that might signal a problem…..

    1. The closet is excellent for escaping the world. I may or may not be in there right now with a glass of wine, writing away. ;D

  34. You made want to play hide and seek with my granddaughter, unfortunately, she’s just six weeks old and she doesn’t have the hang of it yet. She doesn’t hide very well and she just lays there when it’s her turn to find me.

    1. You just wait. Before you know it you won’t be able to shake her. It’s a good problem to have. ;D

  35. You know my happy place…on the beach. Although today we had a lovely game of hide and seek in the waiting room of an urgent care clinic when the 14 year old had a 104.5 fever and the younger three saw fit turn fun and games into mayhem and mockery. This ended with the nurse telling me no strep, but go to the pharmacy for another hour for Amoxicillin while the office lady announced for all to hear, “YOUR LITTLEST BOY IS OUTSIDE THE DOOR NEAR THE PARKING LOT!” I swiftly retrieved him, causing him to cry by swiping his Dum-Dum sucker for eloping.

    1. OMG. What fun you had! I think you have earned your beach time come this weekend. Hope everyone is recovering well from that ordeal!

  36. I love those moments when you can just really enjoy the moment with a child. Nothing like it. :)

    1. That is so true! My girl just turned one and it’s like she’s turning into a real human. She can all of a sudden do all the things and have such intense fun. THIS is the parenthood I signed up for ;D

  37. i love every bit of this post. every single itty bitty bit of it. damn straight it’s okay to be happy! especially when there are children involved. i think if more people owned their happiness, the world could be a bit brighter. so glad you linked up to yeah write. this is my first time at your place, but i suspect it won’t be the last.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I am so glad I am going the Yeah Write circuit too. My friend Ashley (Zebra Garden) has been doing it for awhile and I’m glad she insisted that I give it a whirl ;D I really, really enjoyed your post too. We can be happy together!

  38. Playing hide and seek with little ones is so much fun. You really captured that!

    1. Thank you! It really is.

  39. Beautiful!! I absolutely love your blog – I’ve been creeping around reading it for the past week or so :). My happy place would have to be either in front of a piano, or cuddled up with the hubby just talking about nothing.

    1. Hi Nat! Thank you for coming out of the woodwork! Make yourself comfortable. Can I offer you some coffee? Maybe tea? ;D

      1. Aw thanks! Haha not a coffee or tea drinker but make it a hot chocolate and we’re in busines :P. Thanks for visiting my blog too, by the way :D

  40. My happy place is eating a hot dog, drinking a beer, and cheering on my baseball team. Divine. Thanks for reminding me it’s okay to go there.

    1. It is more than ok. *Clink.*

  41. iasoupmama · · Reply

    Oh, I love that magic. I adore toddlers for this reason. My twins just turned 2 and have begun playing hide-and-seek — even together, which is the funniest thing ever. One calls “I hidin’!” and the other runs away, then they both giggle until they find each other. So. sweet.

    1. Omgosh THAT is why I can’t wait for C to talk. Their little words are so precious and imperfect. Kids are pretty fantastic.

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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