I was holding you today. Your twelve pound body lay snug in my arms and we had one of those dreamlike moments that only Mothers can have. Your eyes met my heart and a sense of bliss came over me instantaneously. To choose the most accurate adjective I can to describe the moment, I would say it was perfect.
It was so beautiful in fact, that I could have held you all afternoon. The TV could have been on or off, it wouldn’t matter. I could have lingered in that moment for long while. Instead, I put you down in that little chair of yours and I drank my coffee.
The coffee was beautiful, too. It was fresh, hot, and it hit me in the way that only good coffee could: down deep in my soul. I glanced over at you. Your googly eyes were chasing sunrays and sparkles and I thought you looked happy. I was happy, too.
Then it was naptime. With some wizardry on my part and likely a Divine Intervention, your brother and you were fast asleep at the same time. I heard the old adage sing-song in my head, “sleep when they sleep.” I laughed since I’ve never been a napper, and I cleaned the house instead. I washed the clothes, made my bed, and my favourite past time– I vacuumed. The house glimmered and shone. The carpet had those streaks on it that makes my strange little heart skip a beat and then I put on a diffusing oil aptly named Well Being. I checked the baby monitor and saw you both snoozing and dreaming. Your little fists were raised above head and your brother was burrowed in his blankets like the wild animal he is. You both looked so content. I was content, too.
The final stretch the day is what we call the Witching Hour around here. To say that we’re all tired is an understatement. Moreover, I’m tired and tired of you. Dad says he’s tired too, he’s cute like that sometimes.
After dinner we cleaned up the kitchen for the 1,595th time today and we began the process of Bedtime. Dad and I dig deep and somehow we bathe, book, and bed you both! Everyday miracles, baby. We high-five in the foyer outside of your rooms when — gasp! You wake up screaming holy terror.
You howl as if some great injustice has been done upon you. I like your conviction. I could have gone back in there and repeated any number of the Bedtime Routine Steps myself, with the belief that you might just want more Mom. Instead, I let Dad take the reins and I went and took a bath.
Dad went back in there for God knows how long. I couldn’t hear anything over the running bathwater. Sure, I may have been able to calm you quicker or maybe, it would have been more convenient with my breasts, but I figured Dad would be fine. You’d be fine. And I? I’d be soaking in a hot tub and wouldn’t be able to help you if you weren’t, anyway.
The point I’m trying to make here is that my happiness matters, too.
My happiness starts and ends with me and if I want happy kids and a happy home, then I sure as hell better be happy myself.
Happiness is not as step by step as a bedtime routine nor is it a one sized fits all solution. Happiness for some parents is sleeping when they sleep but for me, it’s entirely different.
I know how I like to feel so I do things that are going to make me feel this way. Most days it’s GSD, while others it’s reading, and today it’s writing.
It’s about valuing my own happiness on par with my children’s. It means doing things that show them that I matter, too. So, if it means plopping the little down in a bouncy chair while I enjoy my coffee, so be it. We’re both happy this way. And if she’s going to cry about it, she can cry. I’m going to take the five minutes to drink this coffee.
In the wise words of Danielle LaPorte, I “prioritize pleasure,” and damn it feels good. So often us parents put the children ahead of e v e r y t h i n g and then we have nothing. No self. No relationship. And then? No home.
Happy children have happy parents. Happy selves are happy parents.
If you don’t know how to get away from your children and start prioritizing your pleasure, here are some ideas:
- Go somewhere alone. It’s liberating, it’s freeing, it’s limitless. Repeat.
- Exercise. In the words of Elle Woods from Legally Blond, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
- Find a creative outlet. Think back to the subjects you enjoyed in grade school and then explore. You already have the art supplies since you’re a parent.
- Have downtime that does not always involve a screen. Book reading is a good place to start. If you’re not a fiction fan, think about a subject that you’re extremely curious about and start there!
When in doubt, journal about it. Keep on writing ‘till something emerges.
Parenthood is so outrageously overwhelming and exhausting. When we are constantly tending to the needs of others, we are giving, giving, giving. What happens when your well comes up dry?
Photo Credit: Noah Silliman