Posted: 22 Feb 2010 10:55 AM PST | From My Journal
Happy. What is up with this one emotion that is valued above and beyond all others? And when did we get suckered into using it as a benchmark of success in our lives?
Even more boggling, nowadays, moms and dads are responsible for their kid’s maintained level of euphoria.
Why else would so many parenting magazines publish articles like “10 ways to raise a happy child?”
This leads me to envision a Corporate Happy™ happily crunching numbers and generating statistics to grade families on their smile-value™. Those who excel get to slap on a happy-face™ badge of approval.
Oh, imagine the catty mom cliques that would form. Because you know, those Smiths next door are only rated a 3 on the happy-scale™. What’s the neighborhood coming to with those not-smiley-enough™ kids are allowed to race the sidewalks on their Big Wheels?
Listen up folks, happy is a feeling. It’s merely one emotional color in the spectrum. And yes, it’s a great one but so are contentment, satisfaction, anticipation, courage and optimism. Of course, I don’t enjoy melancholy, rage, frustration, envy or anxiety any more than the next sleep-deprived caffeine-seeking mom.
What I’m saying it’s my duty to love, feed, clothe and educate my child. It’s not my responsibility to make sure they’re happy. That’s on them.And that’s exactly what I told my precocious 6-year-old son when he wanted me to switch out his video game for the umpteenth time this weekend.
“But Mom, it would make me super happy!”
“Not happening. Go outside and play,” I responded.
“Awwww man, you make me super sad now.”
He crossed his arms, pouted and flashed his wide-eyed, and practiced, I’m-heartbroken-don’t-you-love-me-single-tear-streaming-down-cheek look.
(Remember the cat in Shrek 2, Puss in Boots? Yeah, this is the real-life human child version of that and, like the cartoon character, stops most folks in their tracks. But not mom.)
“Mmm, yeah. Not my problem, go play.”
Of course, I will guide my children through difficult issues, sadness, conflict or other troubling emotions when needed. It’s my intent to always have a hug, shoulder, listening ear, and, if called for, sage advice available.
However, it’s my child who will experience the emotions first-hand. He or she will take the lumps and the bumps, and feel the joys and triumphs. I can’t do that for them, even if I wanted to
.A lesson I’ve tried to impart on my family: If you’re sad, be sad. Don’t purposely wallow, but do accept and experience it. That emotion may be uncomfortable, but it should be respected because it’s valid.
This is life. Some of it sucks, but don’t rush, shove down or ignore the hurt to get to happy.
As Lisa Boyles, author of “The Moms’ House” and the inspiration for this post, said, “You can’t keep out the unpleasant feelings without keeping all of the emotions out.”
As a parent, I believe it’s important to be an example of how to really feel and validate emotions. Or more to the point, as Debra Legg, author of 9to5to9, commented on Lisa’s post, “… acknowledge the bumps.”
Smiles, laughter and cheer shouldn’t be the measuring stick for life, career and parental success.There’s more to life than happy. So much more.
Eve Reiland (US)
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