Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Mother's Happiness

The second topic for Momalom's Five for Ten is Happiness.



When I think about happiness I tend to get anxious because when I look too hard I only see the big picture....and it is the smaller picture that is full of the things that work together to make my life extremely happy.

Even when I am racing around with the kids, late for kindergarten testing (or whatever it was called), I can pause and realize that even though I hate how stressed and unorganized I am - I. AM. HAPPY. to have these two boys to race around with, in this minivan with 30 cupholders that gets us there, with a husband working hard and calling to see how things are all going, and a mom who answers her cell phone to hear her daughter (me) panic.

When you try to analyze your life to find the happiness I think you can tend to get lost in looking at what isn't working, what you don't have, what you can't wait for etc. Instead of realizing the grace in the moments that are right there under your feet, in your arms, standing next to you, a phone call away, and sitting at your kitchen table.

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”  Frederick Keonig

Lately, I have been so glad that I have taken moments to pause and notice the things that make me feel so content and filled with joy. A lot of time it is when I am in the kitchen...

-sipping my coffee with vanilla creamer has COMPLETELY changed my mornings. I look forward to the little treat, I don't gulp it like orange juice, it warms me when our house is 65 degrees, and I have to stop to drink it because otherwise the hot liquid will splatter all over.

-when I feed my boys breakfast and lunch I rarely sit down. I know I should. But instead I usually clean up, unload and load the dishwasher, and cater to their little desires (more water, more milk, more of this and more of that). But it is when I am not sitting there that their silly little conversations spark and I am allowed to hear the two of them converse - and oh, how they converse. When I sit there the conversation is more structured or even quiet. I love hearing the two of them dine together.

-when I am preparing dinner the boys are usually at their "wild" stage of the day.  We have finally cleaned up one half of the basement enough for them to run around and kick balls in. So for the last few evenings I have kept this as our dinner prep time activity. Listening to them giggle, play, cry and soothe each other, and squeal with happiness is pure joy.  Especially when I can whip up something that makes me feel like I accomplished something "adult" while sipping a small glass of wine.

Other times it is the quiet moments that I know will soon not be possible:

-quiet afternoons with just Charley and I...playing Super Mario Brothers, baking banana bread, doing a "project", competing with games like Sorry, Trouble, and Go Fish.

-rocking Henry to sleep at nap time. I know he is getting way to big for this and the habit isn't a wise one. But the fact that I can read him two books, flip his music on, and snuggle him in my lap, close my eyes, take in his little 2 year old scent, and let my eyes close...while listening to his breathing slowly relax and his nuk (yes, I know, I know) plop in my lap telling me that I can place him in his crib.

But some of my most secret happiness, comes in the moments when I can share in the realizations of grand little moments.

-looking over at my husband when we witness moments together as parents. Our boys are full of crack up moments these days and the smiles that appear on my husbands face, showing that we both caught the little things our boys do and say - especially when in the car - bring pure happiness.

-the comments I catch that aren't even meant for me to hear from the random strangers that pass us at the park or in the grocery store saying how cute or well behaved etc. my boys are. They can transform a hurried grocery shop or a park stop that I am anxious to end into an outing that slows down and is enjoyed.

Happiness is there. You just have to have the perspective and pause to see it. Yes, sure it can be found in the big moments (vacations,  family holidays, births, weekend plans). But I think of this quote...and I am not sure where I read it recently:

"What you do every day matters more than
what you do once in a while."

My challenge for myself is to find as many moments that make my heart swell within my day to day life. It is there that I find the happiness that keeps me going, and going, and going.   It isn't the big exciting NEW YEARS night that is built up and never lives up to expectation...happiness is best found in the other 364 nights of the year when you are racing to swim lessons, battling bedtime, snuggled in watching a movie, sitting around the kitchen table for family dinner, enjoying a mom's night out, or a date with your husband. 

Find your happiness in the every day.


blueviolet said...

It all passes so quickly anyhow, so why rush it by not enjoying it as it passes. My SIL is one who is constantly ramped up trying to stay on schedule and get to the next thing. She never stops to smell the roses. I'm not even sure she knows they exist.

Rudri said...

"What you do every day matters more than
what you do once in a while." Love this!

I think it is the culmination of random moments that lead to happiness. They don't have to be spectacular, but can be simple. There is always the potential for big happy moments, but most of us are trying to find, like you said, happiness in the day to day. A realistic approach to happiness!

Corinne said...

There is so much beauty and fullness in the small bits of happiness that sometimes find us, even a little unwillingly.
Lovely, lovely read!

Crazed Mama said...

Sarah, My eyes filled with tears (happy tears) reading this. You are so right. What an excellent reality check for us all. You should submit this post for publication. It is really really excellent!

Crystal said...

Love this post - what a great reminder!

Danifred said...

I also love those private, yet proud moments with my husband, watching our girls.

Jen said...

yes yes yes. Happiness in the grace of the little moments shared. I love that you mention overhead snippets of conversation between your kids. I find this to be one of the most remarkable things as a mom: To hear my children communicating, whether seriously or with a silly spin, even arguing, out of my presence. It's fun and remarkable and humbling. I treasure those overheard exchanges.

Meghan said...

Nicely said!!!

Anonymous said...

"You can tend to get lost in looking at what isn't working, what you don't have, what you can't wait for"

You are right, these kinds of things tend to derail us don't they? They create expectations that can't be met.

Great post!

Diana said...

I love that last quote. I focus so much on the big things--successes and failures--that they often eclipse everything that comes in between. Thanks for the refocus!


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