Parents today are bombarded with constant reminders that being a parent is just plain hard. We are told constantly that it's 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 smack 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 me serve to reaffirm that I'm not screwing my kids up. The moments where my kids 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 reassure me that I'm not raising delinquents.
When I see my daughter 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 my son 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 my kids 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 my son 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 my daughter 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 my daughter 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.