Thursday, May 13, 2010

the happiness of parents

As a parent, I often ask myself why this job is so hard. I feel envious of those who readily offer "it's the best!" when queried about parenthood. Why is this response not among my top 5? I wonder if perhaps my attitude just stinks at times. Don't get me wrong. I love my daughters dearly, but that's beside the point. Perhaps those who so eagerly express the glory of their day-to-day parenting existence feel pressure to reply in this fashion. Maybe they simply stuff down any feelings of drudgery, frustration or exhaustion because it's not socially acceptable for Mom to express the negative parts. As is most often the case with my peers, I just feel so darned busy.

As I approached six weeks of being sick (sinus infection & hacking cough) on Mother's Day, all I really wanted was sleep. Where I feeling healthy though, I expect my big wish on that special day might have been about the same. Naturally, I do experience joy and witness no shortage of heart-warming incidents as Mom to my girls. Still, the reality is I'm as overtired as everyone else and often feel as if each day is a race to the finish.

I've moved a great distance from my planful persona of a decade back, I accept a lived-in appearance to my home and I no longer feel convinced that I just need to catch up on a few things (personal and professional) to feel that our lives are in balance. I do require a moderate level of organization in our home. Too much clutter and chaos in my home translates to a similar condition in my head. A large pile of laundry has the same effect. So what am I doing wrong? Who took my joy (a la Lucinda) away from parenting? Sounds like a harsh statement, but remember, I'm trying to make a point. It seems I am in need of a shake up to the routine, or lack thereof. Trying to accomplish more is my default reaction, but it is clearly not the solution.

Had it not been for Amy Hanson at Sweet Sweet Life, I don't know that I would have encountered the Mother's Day Happiness Challenge (albeit a bit late), or this article on raising parent happiness, or the book Raising Happiness. Thank you Amy. Having only read the article by Christine Carter, and not yet her book, I already feel a bit better about not blogging with greater frequency and about declining that PTA position. Even that largish mound of dirty laundry has lost some of its power.

Check out Amy's oh-so-useful spring cleaning post as well, in which she shares some of Gail Blanke's suggestions as to what you might throw out. Here is what Amy shared as her favorites:

Throw out:

:: the belief that you are alone.

:: stale spices and ingredients.

:: containers of partially used grooming products untouched for six months.

:: medicines for conditions you no longer have.

:: trying to please everyone.

:: make-up in shades that can't be found in nature (nail polish excepted, of course!).

:: books you'll "get to someday."

:: dried up tubes of glue. Dried up anything, really.

:: playing the same music, over and over.

:: feeling that you life is a movie you're watching, instead of starring in.

:: souvenirs from bad vacations.

:: old parking tickets.

:: a single sock, glove, or earring. It's mate is not coming back.

:: the times you messed up.

:: clothes from a departed loved-one. Someone else needs them now.

:: clothes that no longer fit.

:: wire clothes hangers.

:: sheets, towels or pillows that are torn, stained, or just bum you out.

:: the adage "no one is indispensable." Everyone counts.

:: keys that have no locks. Haven't had for years--maybe decades.

:: fear of looking foolish.

:: anything you don't want to pass on to your children--from worn-out rugs to worn-out grudges.


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