Good morning fantastic parents,
How happy are you? On a scale of Eeyore to the Cheshire Cat? This is starting to sound like one of those Buzzfeed quizzes you come across on Facebook- you know the ones- “What kind of pudding are you”, or, “Find out which kind of fungus most suits your personality”. They’re addictive, and I should know- apparently I am a moderately psychopathic (but caring) unicorn and my strengths are dancing (pffft) and stacking marshmallows. (When I’m not enjoying the colour red in the peace and quiet of my log cabin in the ocean, that is).
Questions on the internet can be very confusing. It’s hard to define ourselves as parents. I’m not fond of labels- I have no idea what kind of parent I am- the only people who I would allow to label me are my kids. Sometimes I am strict, sometimes dof and embarrassing.
Back to happiness.
There’s happiness as a parent, and happiness as an individual. Sometimes the two coincide but often one is compromised at the expense of the other. In theory, you know you should be happy but you’re not, or, sometimes, you feel inexplicably happy even though everything is falling apart.
I’ve felt total despair over a burnt supper and elation over an unsolicited hug from one of my children. If I am emotional as an adult, you can imagine how a child feels going through all those new experiences every day. I forget that they haven’t notched up the same life experiences as me and I consequently forget to be as patient with them as I should. Slowing it down helps. Explaining things. Showing them how and why.
Perhaps happiness is the wrong pursuit. A happy moment is great, but a happy existence is tricky to obtain. Contentment, however, now that’s a state I could enjoy. If you’re content you’re not hurtling around on some giddy pinnacle of success, but you’re also not wallowing in despair. You’ve found a place where you can exist with your family and enjoy each other.
Hmm. Maybe I have found that label: underachieving parent?
One of my children had a great week last week. She found out she came fourth in a writing thing and her story is going to be in a book and she also became a peer mediator. That’s a position which recognises that the child can help younger children resolve conflict at school. While the book thing is really cool, I am more impressed at the second achievement because she approached it a lot of hesitancy. She saw it as something out of her league, but she’ll actually be great at it. I love that humility in her.
Maybe happiness is like that. The more we seek contentment as parents, the happier we become. I don’t have the answer- so you’ll have to help me: what are the things that make you happy or feel content? Send us your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wishing you at least one random smile today.