You know that old story about the man who goes to the doctor, moves his arms and says “It hurts when I do this” and the doctor responds with “Well stop doing that!” ..well that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about a lot of things.
And then a very wise friend said to me “Put your energy into something that makes you intrinsically happy, without relying upon others to do that for you.”
Which is a hard thing to do for a mom. It’s advice though that I would give my own kids.
“Don’t worry about what everybody else thinks” “Don’t worry about what everybody else wears.” “Don’t put up with the mean girls – either try to befriend them just being you or kindly walk away.” “Be true to yourself, always.” “Don’t let yourself feel left-out, instead invite a new friend to play.” “Don’t talk behind people’s backs.” “Don’t lie.” “Be strong enough to ask for help.” “Be strong enough to admit when you were wrong.” “Be strong enough that you have enough to offer anyone help when they need it.” “Don’t take no for an answer the first time.” “Have a good cry sometimes and get up even stronger.” “Try new things.” “Don’t give up so easily.” “Listen to your mother, she was a teen, a horrible horrible teen at one time.” “Be there for someone when they least expect it and be there for someone when they should expect it.” “Accept help.” “Reject rumors.” “Live your truth.” “Don’t keep doing things that just don’t feel good.”
“Strive for the happy that you first make for yourself…”
I would like to think that my kids love me for my quick wit and well-placed sarcasm, and as they get older it warms my heart when they actually understand a joke and roll their eyes. But I know that while we enjoy laughing as a family, my humor doesn’t make them love me more. I’ve always used my blog to share funny stories about my kids and our life. The things they say and do, the silly things that I’ve done, the frustrations of motherhood, and the daily trials of family. Sometimes life can get so ridiculous and sometimes so incredibly sad that my favorite coping mechanism and crutch for sharing is through humor.
And some days I’m the first to admit defeat and cannot wait to pour the wine at 5pm. There are some very hard days.
But the hard ones will never outnumber the good ones. I hope the times I yell(yes I yell) will never outnumber the times that I praise or give a hug. I hope that the times I criticize(yes I’ve gone there) will never be more than the times that I teach and encourage. I hope that the times I throw my hands up in defeat are much less than the times that I say “We got this!” I pray the times that we cry are softened by our laughter and celebrations.
My kids know I love them and am here for them through my daily actions of just being a mother, but if I must talk about social media – well I hope when my kids go back and read my online legacy(and you know they can and will) I hope they won’t need to question how much I loved them every single day through my Facebook posts, my tweets, my photos, my words, my blog.
It’s weird to think about that – this 2012 footprint we are leaving as our legacy and I wonder am I true online like I’m true at home? I’d hate to think that I’m publishing updates and posts for page-views, follows, likes and comments rather than to just speak my mind and heart about the beautiful gift of motherhood. Even on those very bad days. In fact I worry about those bad moments the most. And it’s not that I want to only show sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns – but I want to remain respectful to my children even through the tears on a 4:45am morning.
Because motherhood isn’t glamorous. It’s messy and poopy(yes I went there) and complicated and hard. It’s demanding and all-consuming and exhausting and long. It comes to us without an instruction manual and we’re caught basically unprepared with the future on our small shoulders. We are fragile and tired and scared and weary and unprepared really – yet this is our vocation. Our very important vocation that we do – sometimes because we really want to but always because we have to – and figure out and stumble along and cry sometimes as we learn. But we all do it. Because we’re moms.
I don’t want to sugarcoat anything for my kids. I want them to know about the hard days, the many less than perfect days, the days mom cried, the days that mom messed up, the days that motherhood broke me.
But I don’t ever want my kids to think that any of the hard stuff was because of them. None of it. Not their early rising, their food-pushing-away-ness, their talking back, their not-listening, their never wanting to get potty trained, their taking toys, their forgetting their homework, their coming home late, their lying about their whereabouts, their dating the bad guy,
No, the hard stuff is because if we really are honest – we really don’t know what we’re doing here. And it’s okay to admit that and accept that and trudge along knowing that tomorrow there might be more peace.
And most of the time it’s best to just laugh about it. But I won’t be disrespectful to my kids – in person or on social media. I’m not looking for page-views. I’m looking to be true for them. To be their example – during the funny times and not so funny times – just true and theirs as we learn this parenting thing together. Because they are also my teachers as I am theirs and we both have a lot to learn, yet so many things to laugh about together.
I ask them to be respectful of me. I hope they don’t complain about me(too much) to their friends – that I am that ” mean mom” or ‘I’m so unfair” or “I never let them do anything” or “I don’t like their friends.”
And in return I know and respect a line – that even as babies, toddlers, little and big kids – they deserve even more of the same respect. And I won’t complain about the early mornings, and the messes, and the constant questions, and ANOTHER DAMN game of Candy Land. Because in the end, and also the beginning – I’m teaching them how to manage their communication, their respect, their footprint and their words and recognizing what is really funny.
I don’t want them to be bullies or complainers or martyrs or shamers, even in jest. I want them to be helpers and lifter-uppers and good friends and to live true and honest and humorous community lives.
So I guess this all comes back to “striving for the happy” – that putting my kids down or treating them with any less respect than I believe we all deserve does not make me happy. And while sure their stories are mine to tell – and the great debate goes on about how much do I really deserve to say about them as their mother versus what they own – I want to write in a way that would make them proud..because they are such an important part of me and I am their main teacher.
Does this mean that I cannot write humor anymore? Well no, I can make fun of myself and silly circumstances that happen. Because life is funny – and if we cannot laugh I believe the world would be a very depressing place. But I won’t call making fun of my kids in a disrespectful way, humor. Ever. And maybe that’s why I’ve been so serious on this blog for a few weeks as I have internalized my struggle.
In the meantime I’m going to prioritize good things that make me happy while at the same time being the best mom that I can be because truthfully I want my kids to be proud of my footprint – as a mother and a woman.
This doesn’t mean we have to just focus on the happy and the good things. It just means that the hard times can really seem quite insignificant when I look at the bigger picture. That’s what I try to teach my kids each day. Life is hard but let’s use our time wisely to lift one another up and laugh with each other. What an opportunity that is. Instead of taking that moment on Facebook to complain about another long day of hard things, what if we took that moment to write to a friend to let them know how amazing they are. We all need a happier inbox.
And we will never strive for perfection. We will just strive for a little more happy. For everyone.