This Particular Happiness

img_0524THIS PARTICULAR HAPPINESS, is a memoir exploring our most intimate conflicts and desires as women—about marriage, childbearing, and what makes a life meaningful.

Did I want a child because I wanted my family to approve of me?
Did I want a child for the experience of giving birth?
Did I think a child would give my life meaning?
Did I think it would make me happy? Wasn’t I already happy? How do I know if I’m happy?

Raised in rural Oregon in the 1960s, Jackie Shannon Hollis grew up playing “house” with baby dolls, attending Brownies and 4-H, and riding horses and tending to baby lambs on her family’s ranch. Other than her dear Aunt Lena, all of the women in Jackie’s life were mothers—of two, three, five, eight children—who cooked and baked, cleaned and washed, knitted and sewed, and taught their daughters to do the same. Jackie always assumed she’d become a mother too. It’s just what women did.

In her late 20s, however, Jackie finds herself in love with a man who does not want children. She marries him anyway, certain she can be happy with a childless life. But two months into her marriage, when she holds her sister’s baby girl for the first time, Jackie is instantly sunk deep in baby love—and wants nothing more than a baby of her own.

In THIS PARTICULAR HAPPINESS, Jackie explores this conflict at the heart of her marriage, examining her reasons for wanting a baby, her husband’s reasons for not wanting a baby, and how they navigate the volatile terrain of deciding on their future together.