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Happiness Project Update 9: Parenthood … Awful, Awful, Awful, Terrific!

12 Aug

Parenting.

This is the source of much stress, anxiety, mini breakdowns on the living room floor, weight gain, gray hair, bottles of Lambic Framboise, and pounds of chocolate. Truck loads. It’s more than a job, it’s an existence where I constantly question my ability and hope that the result is better than expected. Thus, the stress. A good opportunity to inject more happiness.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Well in truth there is happiness. There are massive amounts of laughter accompanied by smiles. But there could always be more … thus the next chapter in my happiness project.

Now, there are all kinds of baby mamas and baby daddys out there. Some have nannies, cleaning ladies, chefs, personal assistants, and Mary Poppins type of grandmas that happily volunteer to help you out on a daily or weekly basis.  I am not one of these people, which is probably why I need an extra shot of happiness thrown my way. But apparently even some of the lucky ones have bouts of uncertainty and stress.

But no matter your situation you get the good, the bad, and the ugly. You get all of it and if someone tells you it’s just all happiness, let me let you in on a little secret … they’re lying! You can call them on it. Straight up.

Just as Anthony Anderson describes in the clip above, parenting includes moments of awful, awful, awful and then incredible! Possibly terrific. This is the cycle. The terrific is great, it’s the other parts that threaten my delicate balance. This is where Gretchen Rubin comes in. What does she have to say about parenting and your own happiness project? Some good advice … lighten up.

Now I’m pretty laid back, but when I’ve had about four hours of sleep and the baby wakes up at six o’clock in the morning, loud enough to be the wake-up call for her brother I can’t help but feel irritated. Adding to the fact that I’m not the greatest morning person … well … let’s just say that it is not play time.

This is the time when I can’t find my patience anywhere. It’s gone. It’s probably still sleeping. So there are no deep breathing skills at this time. It’s the you-can’t-do-what-you-want-at-this-time phase. It’s the exhausted-mom phase. It’s when I’m at my worse and I just react. Then I often feel horrible after a yelling episode. The guilt … Parent guilt … it sucks. It’s worse than Catholic guilt.

But Rubin lists something pretty valuable in this section. Lighten up. Laugh.

Sometimes you don’t really try, you just react. I need to check myself and remember to lighten up otherwise the teenage years will probably kill me.  Well, they’ll give me ulcers first and then kill me.

I have to stop being so neurotic, because kids’ schedules aren’t always going to work out. They’re gonna wake up before the sunrise. They’re gonna pee in their pants. They’re gonna throw applesauce at you and think it’s funny.  They’re gonna eat sand at the beach. They’re going to put waffles in the DVD player. They’re going to lose the remote control. They’re going to play with the toilet paper, even when it’s your last roll. Structure … yes it’s important, but don’t get crazy if the structure of the day has broken down. Lighten up. Rubin suggests singing in the morning.

Really?

I’m not too sure that belting out a tune at six o’clock in the morning will brighten my day. In fact I sincerely doubt that. However, she says you can’t be in a bad mood if you’re singing. Maybe at eight o’clock and not six. Sleeping more than four hours would probably help remedy that situation. So I’ll take her second tip: “Get Enough Sleep Yourself.”

Tonight midnight is the cutoff.

Lastly … laugh. Try to laugh with your kids at least once a day. This is something I already have in my regiment. I got the tickle monster down. I got the funny faces. I got the funny voices during reading time. I got plenty of falling down opportunities because my battle with gravity continues. I got my basketball, baseball, golf, hockey, and football bloopers moves perfected. And I’ve got my dance moves. Normally I’m Solid Gold-American Bandstand Dancer material, but sometimes when the music gets me, when it consumes me, the dance moves get wackier and the laughter ensues.

But what about the meltdowns? You can’t have parenthood without meltdowns. And in truth … no you can’t, but this will be next week’s task. This week we’re dealing with the awful, awful, awful, terrific! So lighten up and laugh.

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