Finding the JOY in Parenthood

choose joyMaybe it’s the small moments. The moments that often pass us by, that don’t get photographed or documented in a scrapbook, baby book, uploaded to Facebook or Instagram. It’s the moment you probably had this morning making toast for your kids. Watching them take a bite and say, “this is SO good,” and beam at you as if you were the world’s best cook and not just a typical mom or dad buttering toast and pouring cereal on a Saturday morning.

Sometimes life with kids seem to race by, other times with newborns and little ones, the days feel painfully slow. A bit like Groundhog Day. Wake up, shower, get dressed, start breakfast, wake up the kids, set the breakfast table, eat, brush teeth, load the dishwasher and on with the day until it repeats again tomorrow. But, maybe instead of looking at routines in our family life as boring or static we can appreciate the beauty in providing consistency and stability for our children. Holding the frame, insisting on bedtimes, regular meals, encouraging “hello” bites to broccoli at dinner isn’t always easy or fun but it’s the stuff parents do, day in and day out. Aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends can pitch in and take the kids for special outings to the movies, ice skating, the zoo and baseball games but it’s up to us as parents to be there 24/7, for the sweet moments and for those no good, very bad, horrible moments when we most feel challenged and desperate for a break!

I’ve noticed that when I take good care of myself and give myself time to do the things that make me me (reading, writing, taking a shower every day–ah, yes the simple joy of a hot shower and blow drying my hair!), I’m happier and more patient with my team at home. I smile more when I go for a run a few times a week or when I make time to see a friend for a walk or a quick cup of coffee after drop off.

You hear a lot about parents loosing themselves in parenthood and I think it’s especially true for women. As easy as it is to say things like, “I’m a mom, I don’t need to do _____ anymore.” I think it’s important to remember who you are and what makes you happy as a person and to continue those things as much as possible. To sneak them into your day by either waking up earlier or staying up a little later if need be. Or, if you can, by dropping the kids off at their grandparents’ house for a few hours if your family lives nearby, or at a friend’s house for a play date, or by hiring a babysitter to help out.

I’m able to see the joy in parenthood more when I slow down, when I get still enough to listen carefully to what my inner voice is telling me and when I’m clear with my intentions. Life with kids is a gift. Truly. I was talking recently with a woman who is not able to have kids. She’s exploring surrogacy or adoption and in listening to her story, I felt truly thankful for the two great kids I have. Spend a few minutes with anyone who wants desperately to have a child but who is struggling to have a family of her own and it will make you so much more appreciative of the everyday moments in your life as a parent. I’m going to try to remember this over the holiday break with our girls home from preschool and elementary school for several weeks. I’m going to do my best to stay calm, to stay in the moment, to laugh, to dance, to tell stories and ask questions. I want to listen, to love, to appreciate and to live my life as parent with an open and grateful heart.

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