Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Riding with the top down

Back for my second post for Momalom and their Five for 10 challenge. Today's topic is Happiness.

Happiness is simple, when you're a child.

Mommy's smile.
Powder-blue cotton candy.
A new toy.
The box a new toy came in.
Christmas lights.
Star Wars pajamas.
Ice cream. For dinner.
Whooshing down a slide.
Splashing at the water's edge and shrieking when the wave breaks.
A hug.
Hot chocolate. With three handfuls of marshmallows.
Snow days.
Running. Skipping. A hula hoop.
Hearing "Yes."

When did we lose this? When did happiness come with conditions?

I will be happy when I graduate high school and get away from these people and this small town.
I will be happy if I move to this dorm, major in this instead of that.
I will be happy when I have a boyfriend.
I will be happy when I lose the weight.
I will be happy with this job, that job, when I move here, when I leave there.
I will be happy when I'm engaged. Married. Have kids.

The problem with all this is, of course, failing to live in the moment. When was I truly happy? Tough to say. I was too busy thinking it was just around the corner. If. When. I didn't take the time to just be and appreciate where I was in the now.

Because happiness? It's right here. If you take the time to see it.

My third child has taught me this. He is my last, and there is enough space between he and his next older sibling that I can actually spend uninterrupted time getting to know him and his joy. And my own. He has made me savor.

I consciously slow down. I inhale the warm, toasty scent of his head. I blow raspberries on his squishy tummy and we both crack up. He climbs into the sandbox on the back patio and I sit in a chair, close my eyes and feel the sun heat my face. I breathe.

I roll as he escapes the bath and runs, chubby legs churning, naked and dripping and screaming with laughter as my husband chases him down the hall.

Watching my toddler has also made me appreciate my older two kids more. The way my first son's face lights up when he sees me waiting for him outside his classroom door. How my daughter shouts, "Watch, Mommy, watch!" as she wiggles like a hula girl, jumps in the pool, pedals her bike without training wheels.

Rejoicing in their victories: their first steps, first soccer goal, first time they read a sentence.

And yet, I know my own happiness can't be derived solely from my kids.

I've always been a glass half-empty, lemons-instead-of-lemonade type of girl. I fight that. I look for my happy.

I've found it, more and more. Happiness isn't always about explosions of unicorns and rainbows. It's there when I'm doing a good hard run on a beautiful day. Watching the ocean. Finding my husband has cleaned the kitchen - even wiping the counters - while I was out. Writing a well-turned phrase.

Riding with the top down.

Giving into it.

Being present.

How do you find your happy?


Anonymous said...

I LOVE that you approached happiness from a kid's perspective. One to add:

The undivided attention of a parent!

Great post. said...

Wonderful post! I wish I had realized how to just be happy when the girls were younger. Glad, no HAPPY!,that I can be in that state of mind now.

Denise said...

Yes. Looking for happy. I used to have to do this. And now I delight in those same things with my little boy. Thanks for a lovely post!

Cheryl said...

Sue - Yes! Undivided attention! Tough to come by these days..

Judy - It's a work in progress for me.

Denise - Kids just know how to do it, don't they?

Shawna Cevraini said...

I love, love this post.

It is so totally the smallest things. It has taken me so long to start figuring that out!

2010 is my year for a Happiness Project and it is incredible how just slowing down and savoring those moments has made me so very happy.

Love this! Thank you!

Unknown said...

it's funny how we don't often exist in the now, and really now is all there is.
Tomorrow is a happiness killer. Stupid plans! I'm off to blow some bubbles and forget about the dishes I abandoned this morning. Great post. It makes me...happy!

Jen C said...

So beautiful! Truly.

Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities said...

Love this. When did happiness start coming with conditions? GOOD question.

Amy said...

Being present.

Yes, you said it. We can find happiness so much more easily when we stop thinking, "I'll be happy when...," and just choose to be in the moment instead. Thank you!

Kristy @Loveandblasphemy said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I find my happy by looking around and being so grateful for all in my life. I spend a few moments just looking. I see my smiling husband, my son, my surly cat, our lived in charming and comfy home, and I know that I am living my truth. That is what gets me in perspective whenever I need it.

Anonymous said...

I can hear X's laugh in that picture! Beautiful!

Melodramommy said...

Wow! I absolutely love this! So well written. So well said. Great to connect with you. Will be following : )

Tiffany said...

Great post!! I feel like I could have written this...I feel the same about my 3rd!

Michele said...

This is such a great post that I think can help us all slow down and enjoy the moment, because happiness is in the little things and the little moments. I'm sure we all feel the "I'll be happy when..." moments, but I do feel like I'm finally getting away from that, and I think my youngest daughter's birth had a lot to do with it. But I agree that I don't want to be happy just because of my kids...I have to find my own. I think my blog is helping.

And by the way, my brother had Stars Wars sheets when we were kids. That really brought me back :)

Jenn said...

I feel the exact same way about my second child, who I know will be our last. Wonderful post...a great reminder to take the time to see your happy, because it's all around!

Aimee @ Ain't Yo Mama's Blog said...

Beautiful! This is such a wonderful post, Cheryl.

I could not agree more about so many of the excellent points you made. Too many of us (and I'm guilty, too) think too much about tomorrow and we don't stop and savor the day. When I take a few minutes to be grateful for the health and happiness of my family, it makes me happy. I just need to do that every day.


Corinne Cunningham said...

I feel like when you realize that, you gain SO MUCH. So much.
Lovely read :)

Jill said...

Another great post!!

Lately my happiness is the quite time outside at 6:30 am when the new puppy wakes up. The world is quite & I'm alone with my thoughts.

kirsten said...

I love this. For me, it isn't so much the "I'll be happy when..." it is "I just need to get this done, and then I can be present for you." Its almost as if I've forgotten to look for Happy. Sad.

Missy said...

Yes! Great post. I love the image of your little guy toddling down the hall, dripping, after a bath. It would be so easy to focus on the water you have to clean up. Better - so much better - to focus on the moment and all the joy in that little guy's being. I strive for this and want to be fully present every day for my kids (and really, everyone I spend time with). I, too, am a lemons-instead-lemonade girl, but that's not who I WANT to be.

Unknown said...

Great post - I'm over here via Momalom and glad I stopped by.

I like the differentiation you pointed out between the happiness of a child and that of someone older who applies conditions to their happiness. That's a very astute observation - and I'm afraid I fall prey myself. I really should stop that. It is in the here and now. And if not appreciate it now, then when?

Great eye-opener. Thank you for this.

TKW said...

I'm one of those half-empty girls, too. I hate it, but I am. I'm trying so hard not to let my girls see that side of me...I'm afraid they'll catch it like a contagion or something.

I love the beaming smile on your son's face!

Jen said...

Oh that third child. Mine is a wonder. I want to just gobble her up watching her gobble up life. She is pure happiness. Her childhood, for me, is pure joy. I am not nervous about everything like with the first. Her older siblings are old enough to fend for themselves mostly, and so, YES, I know what you mean. About the happiness of the third. And I loved the rest of your post, too. This is just what struck me the most. Gut level.

Me Too said...

Love it! Happiness is so easy, but we sometimes miss it for all the chores and errands, bills and responsibilities.

I find my happy in a well-written book. Chick lit. Fiction. Biography. Journalistic review. Anything, as long as it is well-written. If I can lose myself in it, and for just a moment forget that the check is a week late and I forgot to buy toilet paper AGAIN, then I am happy.

Stacia said...

What a distinction, the transformation from "I am happy" to "I will be happy if/when ..." I love this reminder to look to our own children to rediscover what happiness really means, that it's right here already.

PS: I think I'm going to have three handfuls of marshmallows. That will make me happy indeed! =>

Queen Bee said...

wonderful post! I loved it and it's a great remider. I'm holding a sleeping baby & it's bliss!! I should be doing laundry! LOL!

thanks for stopping by my blog! I'll be back!!

Lucy said...

I love this post. Isn't it wonderful how our babies give us a new perspective?

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