When I was in high school, the quality of my life was easily calculated in accordance to the number of friends I had to hang out with. I was a bookish nerd, so it followed that my quality of life was pretty low. College provided a simplified calculator. A cute boy buying me a drink equaled good; not having a date on a Friday night equaled bad.
The birth of my son changed my calculation methods tremendously. Any day that provided time for a shower automatically qualified as a good day, and each baby milestone created a new holiday worthy of capital letters. My calendar boasted such celebrations as First Smile Day, New Tooth Day, and Baby Weaned Himself From the Breast Day. The last, in particular, rocketed my quality of life to its relative highest, due to the fact that I could finally imbibe a cocktail without fear of turning my baby into a drunkard before his first birthday.
The quality of life calculator has undergone many adjustments since then, including some versions that were strictly released for beta testing and immediately recalled, like when I resolved to make my bed every day in an attempt to incorporate a novice level of “feng shui” into my home. I didn’t understand the entire concept, but the back covers of feng shui books that I bought (but never read) promised to greatly improve my quality of life and align my chakras.
I’m no fool. Maybe I didn’t know what my chakras were, but I wasn’t going to let mine become misaligned simply because I couldn’t make my bed each morning. The first day, I spent twenty minutes trying to master the ancient art of hospital corners, and my quality of life plummeted with every curse I shouted.
I returned to college immediately after acquiring four more children. New quality of life indicators included whether I made enough tips waiting tables to pay for textbooks, how many hours I spent at the law library to complete my Legal Research final, how many days per week my kids ate macaroni and cheese and whether I was able to find clean underwear each morning. When I took my dream job at one of Seattle’s top law firms, my quality of life boiled down to how many hours per day I spent in gridlock on I-5.
In 2006, I managed to collect two more children. Two infants, actually. In real life, this blessing might trick a girl into believing that her quality of life has reached a pinnacle of greatness: two babies, no labor pains, no stretch marks. However, this wasn’t real life. It was my life, and there is a distinct difference. I achieved about three hours of sleep per night, which was actually a good thing, because never reaching full consciousness allowed me to pretend that being a mother to seven children at the ripe old age of 31 was actually just a terrible nightmare.
The past three years have streamlined my quality of life calculator. No longer do I obsess over whether my house is clean (it never is), whether my kids are healthy (they were breathing the last time I checked), or whether I have cellulite (of course, I do). Now, it’s all about the amount of hemorrhoid cream I have to spackle under my eyes to shrink the bulging bags that have taken up residence there.
Years ago, I read in a magazine that models sometimes dab a little Preparation-H® under their eyes to reduce puffiness. At the time, the thought of applying a substance meant for hemorrhoids to my face was, to tell the truth, a little disgusting. My opinion changed the day I woke up and realized that I could actually tattoo the Louis Vuitton logo on my bags, and go for a designer look. Today, my quality of life is accurately measured by the size of the application tool I use to slather butt cream under my eyes. My finger equals pretty good; a putty knife equals really bad.
Of course, my quality of life is actually quite satisfactory. It could be worse. After all, I’m still applying hemorrhoid cream above my waist, right?