I was asked to write a piece for Life Well Lived about parenting, more specifically on the topic of happiness. “How do you teach the children in your life happiness?” they asked me.
I’m new at this parenting thing. I thought I still had plenty of time to read all the books, to get organized, to prepare for motherhood and then Scarlette arrived three and a half months early causing me to dive in feet first. I still haven’t found my footing.
I walked away from my open inbox and asked my husband the question still up on the screen. “How are we going to teach her happiness?”
Jeff’s eyes filled with tears.
(He was chopping onions.)
I know. It sounded like a beautiful moment in our parenting, me all serenely posing thoughtful parenting questions while my sentimental husband pondered them. That would have made an excellent blog post, especially if I had any idea how to take pictures with an artful lens flare.
What actually happened was that I burst into the kitchen on my teary-eyed husband (who’d like me to reiterate that he was crying BECAUSE OF THE ONIONS) in a panic. Because that little line of text on my screen? The one someone wanted me to write a response to like I knew what I was talking about? It was just one more thing about raising a child that I hadn’t even thought of yet.
It’s overwhelming sometimes, this huge responsibility of raising a whole person. It would be easy to write this as if I knew. As if I had it all together. As if I sat down to write this and the keyboard gave life to all my natural parenting wisdom.
But it wouldn’t be true.
Often people comment on the time Scarlette spent in the hospital. “I don’t know how you did it” people say. That time was automatic, more doing than thinking. This? This time of shaping her, not wanting to suppress her natural personality, of wanting to cultivate good in her and correcting her while still making sure she feels loved? This time is easily fraught with insecurities. Am I a good mother?
There are so many things I want to teach her. Grace and honor and confidence and love. Kindness and forgiveness and compassion. The sweetness of an engaging and enduring friendship, the beauty of investing in and serving others, the importance of self worth. And colors and numbers and shapes and animals and “I have no idea what a square root is, go ask your father.”
I sat on the kitchen counter while Jeff sauted the onions and pondered all of it aloud.
“I think WE have to be happy.”
I can teach her so many things. I can tell her stories and paint her pictures with my words. I’m good with words.
But it’s me she’s going to look at. It’s me she’s going to watch and mimic and it’s me she’s going to one day thank as she stands on a stage somewhere because I’m her mother and that is who you want to make proud.
So I did something I haven’t done in some time. I sat down with my bible and looked up every single verse about happiness. It’s where I should have started, the paper thin pages that hold more wisdom than I.
And I settled my heart on a time-worn passage of simple text that says to me “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. ” – ecc 7.14
She won’t see me be perfect. She’ll even see me be sad. But I hope she sees that I’m truly happy even in the midst of experiencing other emotions, and that the simple source of my joy is in the Lord.
They told me I only needed to write a few sentences…
You can read some other women’s thoughts on this topic here + you can enter to win a kindle fire by sharing your own life well lived moment here.