Thursday, July 15

Finding Joy in the Journey

I woke up this morning with the same sort of nagging ambivalence and slightly pessimistic attitude that I wake up with on many mornings. It goes something likes this, especially if the girls wake me up instead of my waking up on my own account, "Oi, here we go again."

I wish I didn't feel that way...or, at least, that that wasn't the first thought that popped into my head, but it usually is, so I'm throwing it out there.

Sometimes I wonder if someone asked me, "Lisa, are you happy?" how I would answer the question. What is happiness? How do we define it? And how can I say I'm "happy" at the end of a long day of scrubbing floors, picking up messes, wiping dirty bums, chasing children, and listening to them cry and whine no matter what logical solution I try to present in order to solve their problems.

Depending on the time of day, if you were to ask me that question, "happy" is not the first adjective that would come to mind. Lately the adjectives sound more like "tired,""frustrated", "impatient", and desiring more free time, more personal space, more opportunities to do tasks that are logical, non-messy and that have tangible outcomes.

Those things aside I'm not sure it's fair to try to describe parenting in terms of happiness or unhappiness. It's WAY more complicated than that.

That said,  this morning, when I turned on the Today Show and saw that they were doing a segment about an article recently written in New York Magazine called "I Love My Kids, But Hate My Life" my ears perked up and I turned it up to listen to what the author had to say.

"Hate" is a particularly strong word. I'm sure the author would admit that as well. I think the word "hate" was more for attention, but nevertheless, I understood completely what she was saying. I get her point...

Life with children is NOT easy and many of us very naively enter into the role with college degrees and and heady thinking that we know EXACTLY what we're getting ourselves into and that we are going to be blissfully happy doing it.

I'm not saying I'm not happy. I'm just saying that parenting is WAY different than I thought it would be and I'm still adjusting to the shock of it all!

The author discusses a great deal of research that concludes that parenting doesn't make people "happy", and that the opposite has actually been found to be true, parenting actually makes many people less happy. It makes people stressed, frustrated and mind numbingly exhausted at the end of the day.

Sobering thoughts, huh?

After reading the article I found myself thinking, boy, it's a good think I serve a God that offers some perspective on things. A God that says, "in all things give God glory," "in EVERYTHING give thanks." A God who is the author and perfecter of our lives and who instills in us a greater longing and sense of being than anything the "professional" life can offer.

Motherhood is more  of what we do not expect it to be than what we do.  It's not all smiling babies and bliss. It's sacrificial, it's challenging to our own personal desires, it's hard on our marriages.

And while all of these things can come as a surprise and can take some time to adjust to, I think, especially if we call ourselves Christians, we have a greater calling than to just be dissatisfied, frustrated and irritated by the demands of parenthood. I think we have a responsibility to find joy in the journey, to use the challenges to better ourselves.

For me this has meant learning to manage my emotions, it has meant admitting to being selfish at times, it has meant learning to be more sacrificial, more of a servant, more compassionate to the needs of others and not just myself. It has made me question my own values so that I can instill positive values and an understanding of God in my children.

This article was a wake-up call for me because if you asked some of the people closest to me on some of my hardest mommy days they might just tell you that  I certainly do love my children but seem to hate my life...I don't want that to be the case...God doesn't want that to be the case.

I can say with all sincerity that I love my children and that my life is a bit crazy right I love it all the time...hmmm...that might be a stretch...BUT regardless I know that it is where God has me right now and that it is my responsibility to do this job to the best of my abilities. I'm working on being more peaceful about it all, on not sweating the little things so much and on being more grateful for the incredible blessings in my life.

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