I asked my three year old, “What is happiness?” She said, “I don’t know Mom, maybe love.” And I said, “yes!” Then I got an almost creepy feeling that she actually knows more than all of us.
“Did you learn that from me,” I asked wanting a little boost of confidence, a pat on my back if you will; “No,” she said, “from the Greatest Showman.” Ok. (Insert shrugging shoulder emoji) And then she said, “I can’t believe Cars can talk,” as she watched the movie Cars. So, then I decided that I might still have a leg up.
Happiness is love, but to dive even deeper, it is being kind to yourself. Because, it has to be. Because that’s why Moms struggle sometimes, they don’t have time to do things for themselves. They don’t have time to dedicate a set amount of time to self-care and nurturing their own needs. That is our constant struggle; to be able to balance the needs of ourselves and the needs of our children. And nobody warned us of that when we rubbed that growing belly with adoration, thinking how everything was going to be so easy.
I communicate daily with my three friends from high school and we always talk about the deep issues of our lives, particularly parenting woes and the lack of time. I always say that raising kids isn’t hard, it is navigating through all the different parenting styles and how that affects our kids as well as how it affects us. If our kids suffer, we suffer. And then we don’t have time to self-care because the worry we have for our children, always outweighs the need for self-preservation, which has kind of been my life for the past 6 weeks.
For me, I try so hard to raise kind individuals, but then how does that affect them when they aren’t receiving kindness in return?
Sometimes our kids can turn a cheek. Sometimes they can’t. Like us.
What does it mean? Well, it means that we are raising humans with human emotions and it isn’t easy. I was raised to respect my elders, be kind, have empathy and I do. I’m trying to teach my three daughters the same. But when looking deeper or from another perspective, some might think that being kind and turning a cheek might be a lack of strength. If anything, I believe it takes real strength to be kind in the face of adversity. In fact, I think it is the most strength anyone can have. So, while it might seem that kindness could equal weakness, I think there is actually nothing stronger. And I see it in my three little girls. They have more strength and possession in their kind hearts, than do those who succumb. They just don’t know it yet. But that’s why I’m here, to continuously remind them that I’m in their corner.
So, what do we have to do as parents when it gets to them and you see their happiness take a hit?
We teach them how to love themselves despite everyone else by leading by example. We teach them the tools to stay kind, speak up, but also learn how to use real, inner strength to get through it. We teach them about self-love and self-care. We make them see that leading with a kind heart, will always win in the end. Always. We teach them that the kind ones are actually the ones chosen to be the leaders. And when they grow up, they will see that:
“happiness was always about being kinder to yourself, it was always about embracing the person you were becoming. One day, you will understand. That happiness was always about learning how to live with yourself, that happiness was never in the hands of other people. It was always about you.”
Take care of yourselves Moms (and Dads), and your children.
Happy Valentine’s Day!