This month, the Today Parenting Team challenged me to write about what makes me happy as a mother and to define the strategies I use daily to find every day joy in the chaos of parenthood. As I thought about this topic and ruminated on what really makes me truly happy, I realized that, for me, it’s not about saving time doing laundry or cooking a meal in ten minutes. Don’t get me wrong: I loves me some organization and quick to the table dinners but when it came down to it, simple joys bring me the most happiness. Simple, mundane, minuscule moments that add up over time to fill my soul and make me truly happy.
Mothers today are bombarded with constant reminders that motherhood is hard, that it’s so easy to get bogged down in the “doing for others” that you can forget to “do you”. Entire parenting websites are devoted to making sure moms are honest about the trials and tribulations of motherhood and, sometimes, if I’m being honest, I get twitchy when I read articles like “Ten Ways To Be A Happier Mom” or “Motherhood Should Make You Smile All The Time So Stop Complaining” or “ERMAGERD Being A Mom Is the Best Thing EVUR”. (Note: I made those articles up….and I would probably junk punch an author for actually writing them).
My point is this: in this day and age, it’s HARD to define what makes you happy as a parent. It’s hard because we spend our days comparing our lives to those around us and worrying that our kids aren’t happy enough, much less ourselves.
So, what’s a parent to do? How are we supposed to Find The Happy?
For me, it’s the simple things. The little, mundane, miracle moments right in front of my eyes that serve to reaffirm for me that I’m not screwing my kids up. The moments where the Fruit Loops make me realize I might not have to change their college fund to a therapy fund. These are the moments that also save me on the bad days and keep me going.
When I see Fruit Loop #2 gently pet an animal and smile, I am reminded of a child’s simple ability to accept all creatures. And my heart is happy.
Those moments, when Fruit Loop #1 looks at me, puts his arms out wide and hugs me for no reason, I realize I’ve taught him how to express his emotions.
As I watch the Fruit Loops share silly inside jokes, laughing until they are a pile on the floor, I am grateful that they will have each other when I’m gone.
That quiet moment I kiss their cheeks as they blissfully dream and I am immediately reminded of their soft baby skin. Those moments never get old.
Those fleeting times when they tell me the deep thoughts in their heads and I barely breathe lest they stop confiding.
When Fruit Loop #1 treats a girl to ice cream out of his own money and I hear him say “Get whatever you want”, I see his father. And I am filled with love.
When Fruit Loop #2 never forgets to ask me how MY day was after I’ve asked her, my heart smiles. As I tell her, she listens. And it’s wonderful.
When I see them bound off the bus, with smiles and running towards me as I outstretch my arms, I feel glee in my heart that they’ve come home.
The sight of freshly washed hair and footie PJs can make even the longest day a little bit better. Really.
Showing up to school and seeing the joy on their faces as they realize I’ve come to spend some time in their world away from home makes me smile.
When Fruit Loop #2 came to me with tears in her eyes because Dumbledore died, my heart soared, not because she was sad but because a book moved her.
As their eyes meet mine and they simply say, “I love you” and knowing I love them more than they could possibly understand. And accepting that they don’t know that love yet.
Being a parent is never easy and Finding The Happy doesn’t always have to be about “Me Time” and Girl’s Night’s Out. Being a happy mother, for me, means looking around and finding the grace in the hardship, the light when it’s dark and the humor in the insanity. And saving those simple moments, one at a time, in my heart as a collection for a lifetime of happy.
If you loved this post, please go to the Today Parenting Team website and click VOTE on my piece. Vote because you love it and because it would make me happy. Ahem.