Thursday, February 24, 2011


The little lady & I try out the the 3D glasses at Costco

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
- Marcus Aurelius

I get so distracted when I sit down to write a post. What should take one hour turns into three. It's ridiculous. I check in on other blogs (gathering inspiration, i tell myself. But all it does is fuzz up my head and swing wide the door for writer's block). Many times, I end up at my personal blog, reading the archives. Pretty schmaltzy and nerdy, but I love our story. I love looking back on the evolution of our family and the things I've been thinking/dreaming about over the years. Reminding myself how darling the kids are, and remembering all the funny things they've said and done. I'm already nostalgic for this time of life - even while I'm in the middle of it. I know how quickly it's going to tumble by - the reality and tangibility will evaporate into memories that I'll reach back for desperately with efforts akin to late night archive digging. But that's neither here nor there, just a little morsel of fact about me (Em). And a reminder to soak up what you have right now because it is beautiful and precious and you'll never be able to have it again.

Here's what I logged on to say:

I enjoy my children very, very much. Almost without exception. Almost. Of course there are moments when I look at my five year old and wonder where he ever learned to act so weird (then I help in his class and realize it's pretty much par for the kindergarten course!) Or wonder if my two year old is really making her whole body stiff and throwing a tantrum because I won't let her watch the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star video on You Tube a seventh (7th!) time. There are days that find me counting down 'til bedtime only a few hours after we wake up. But mostly, I love this job. I love the little people I spend my days with.

I think this is in part a gift from God. But it is also a choice - a way of thinking about my life. Something that's really helped me to enjoy my children more is changing the way I think about specific situations we're in. That sounds vague and horribly obvious, let me explain. When I'm cooking or baking with them, for instance, I don't think of what we're doing as getting the bread made. I think of it as giving my children a tactile experience. Teaching them about a ritual that's important to me. Experiencing joy together. It helps me take the mess in stride. It takes my mind off the clock - it is never efficient to cook or bake with young children. So when I need to be efficient, I don't involve the children. And when I involve the children, I take efficiency off my radar and replace it with objectives like: help them feel good about themselves, celebrate their curiosity, make this fun, laugh together, encourage them, foster a love of the kitchen, cooking, creating.

It works in other circumstances, too. Like bathroom cleaning. When I clean with the children I take the focus off of a spotless commode and put it on helping my kids learn to work, letting them feel satisfaction in their own effort, helping them build autonomy and independence.

In thinking of these experiences differently and changing my agenda, I am able to enjoy them, and the children, more. I'm not trying to get all Tony Robbins on you, but happiness starts in your head. Have joy. Find fun. Think happy.



Christina said...

I love this and posted some similar thoughts yesterday about happiness- it is definitely a choice. I love how you applied that to experiences with your kids and hope to take that advice to heart. And I completely understand the current nostalgia- I find myself thinking about it regularly.

Janis@HomeStyle said...

I sooooooooooo needed this post today, thanks for the reminder to slow down and enjoy the moments.

Katrina said...

GREAT perspective, Em. Thanks for sharing it.

jeanine said...

Just what I've needed! Thanks Em!

Steph at said...

Thank you for this wonderful perspective - lately I've also been feeling "nostalgic for this time even though I'm in it" but also have been dealing with a 2 year old that's VERY good at being 2. I'm going to book mark this post to come back to when I need it :)

duck said...

That picture of you swinging Henry is priceless. Cleaning with my boys is something I know I need help with. I'm all about efficiency and tend to get a little antsy.. so this little bit of wisdom could really help me!

Susan said...

Thanks for reminding me I need to stop thinking about the task at hand and they way I think it should be done. I need to think about the process of getting to the end result and enjoying the road it takes to get there, however long or messy that road ends up being! Thank you!

Abbie said...

I so needed to read this. I've found myself in a mothering funk the last two weeks. I really like my kids and all, but I'm really REALLY hating the homemaking stuff. I'm just sick of being the maid and wiping butts, but (haha) I needed a reminder that what I'm doing is really important...I think.... It's just so hard to get this lesson stuck in my brain when all I do is vacuum up crumbs and wash dishes.

K, I'm rereading the post to try to get it stuck.

Motherhood...oy vey!

The Parkers said...

Emily, you are wise beyond your years!!! Thank you for reminding me to enjoy my children while I can and find the joy and importance in simple everyday tasks. Also, I love that you mentioned that 'happiness is a choice' in this post because it really is up to us to decide how much joy we want to get out of motherhood. We can be as miserable or as happy as we want. It is our choice. I really needed to hear that today. So thank you. You gals inspire me!

Natalie said...

Ha ha Em, I loved the Tony Robbins comment. :) Perspective is a gift when you have little children. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.