Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Perception of Joy

I have been thinking a lot about this NY Times article 'The 'Busy' Trap' lately and it's observation that
"Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day."
The article touches on parents that feels the need to over schedule their children.  That this busyness that makes them feel 'worthy' in the world is now being projected on their offspring.  Busy kids, of course, has it's benefits (tired kids at bed time) but also makes for very tired parents and, usually, a lack of time for some of the truly important moments (emotionally, physiologically, and healthfully) for the kids - home made healthy meals, meals not had in front of the tv so conversation and family time happens, bed time stories or even just the child's ability to entertain themselves instead of having an organized activity.
"The present hysteria is not a necessary or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it."
So not only is this something that we have chosen but then we have surrendered to it.  I would like to add an additional thought......not only are we 'busy' but we also have a negative attitude about the busyness that our children have added to our lives. I can't tell you how often other parents complain to me about the limitations that having children has created in their lives. Or how 'hellish' certain aspects of their lives have become since having kids. Now as all parents know - having children is life changing, having children is hard work, having children makes for a life that is no longer just about you.....but is that a bad thing?

And this perception that it is a bad thing....where did that come from and why?  Is it just like the article says - that by creating an atmosphere of a life of busyness and over-burden that it validates us? Makes us feel more important in the world?.....excuses us from meeting the made up societal standards of success? or justifies our on-going feelings of not being qualified for the job of parent? Or do we just feel more comfortable expressing ourselves from a place of negativity?  Is it funnier? More relate-able?

I am not completely guilt free on this one, I am not writing this from high on a horse.  I need as much support and camaraderie as the next mom but I do try to make a point of never talking about the challenges and struggles in front of my kids. Those conversations are to be had separate from them.  It is not their business or burden to hear how much work they are or how they are challenging me.  That's my problem and children are only literal so it all directly affects their self-esteem in the world. I pay my husband the same respect and not talk about my challenges with him to others in front of him.

I try to greet them everyday with a smile and attitude that I am happy to see them....because I am happy to see them.  I am the creator of this life and, in fact, I worked really hard to have this life, I am not a victim of it and I try to focus on the blessing that I got what I asked for, no matter how challenging it may be.

I am not interested in sighing and huffing and puffing about my challenges.  I don't want to give them that much of my energy, waste any more of my time, or drag myself down in it.  I know how to swim so it shouldn't matter how deep the challenge in life is learning how to ask for help if that water gets too choppy.....and that isn't my kids problem either.

Have we forgotten what joy is? Or what are we waiting for that is going to finally make us happy? Why do you think we 'like' to complain so much?

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