I wrote ten mantras, actually, and I dubbed them Ten Mantras for Happier Parents. (Ten secrets? Ten sayings? Aphorisms, mottos, truisms? Sometimes thesaurus.com is not your friend.)
Number seven has been giving me a really hard time of late. Here it is:
You can be happy when your children aren’t.
I’ve been struggling to live that lately. One of my kids has been unhappy, for reasons biggish but not catastrophic, and it’s been bringing me, and all of us, down. And I kept thinking about that mantra. Was it crap advice? Had I been sure to say “but it’s hard,” or something like that? Because I wasn’t feeling happy, or at least, not exactly.
Turns out even somebody who’s read and thought a LOT about happiness (that would be me) can forget what it means sometimes.
It’s hard for me to be cheerful when my kid is justly down in the dumps. I’m not lighthearted, necessarily, or merry. There’s no perc in my ‘olator.
But I’m still generally happy, because happy, for us happier parents, isn’t about oozing festivity at all hours of the day. It’s about that solid reservoir we keep inside us, reminding us that this is the life we wanted, that it’s generally a lovely one, full of modern convenience and opportunity, and that when we look for joy in our families and our daily lives, it becomes easier to find it.
That kind of happy.
So while I work to help my poor kid find that form of happiness, I still get to have mine. That’s important for both of us. I can empathize, but stay solid in my adult perspective, and my child doesn’t need to feel responsible for my emotions—or for hiding his to protect me.
We can both feel all the feels in our own ways, and that helps keep us happy together.
These little “Happier Parent” notes can drop into your inbox every week–and magically, sometimes they’re exactly what you need when you need it. I mean, I can’t promise that, but people tell me that it happens, more than I’d think. Also, they come with book recommendations. Everybody needs those.