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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12 Responses to “Happiness Project Update 9: Parenthood … Awful, Awful, Awful, Terrific!”

  1. Cayman Thorn August 13, 2012 at 5:59 PM #

    This post brought me back to the days right after my first born. I was sitting on the porch with my buddy and we were smoking up a couple of Cubans I’d brought back from London for the occasion. I was going over my five point plan for parenting. I was going to be the first ever Perfect Parent. Needless to say, it didn’t work out that way.
    All this time later, I’m still trying to figure it out. I have the laughing with my kids part covered, though.

    • The Guat August 14, 2012 at 2:18 PM #

      I always plan out to have a “perfect parent” day but it never works out the way I planned. The laughing is the important part because disaster is always around the corner. From reading all your stuff I know that the laughter is covered. You guys are probably cracking up constantly 🙂

  2. dougsan August 13, 2012 at 7:30 PM #

    The more I read your blog the more I really like it. We had a year without sleep when our son was born and went completely insane. Now we have 3 kids many of our friends are first time parents and can’t understand our slightly cynical comments on parenthood. It’s hard to explain that unique mixture of tiredness, rage, frustration, resentment, and happiness that comes from your kids to anyone who hasn’t been through it. It also doesn’t help that lots of people are afraid to be honest and therefore make out it’s easy and wonderful, piling more and more pressure on those of us who are – tiredly and grouchily – doing our best to get by 🙂
    I think your post does a really nice job of encapsulating the experience. Keep up the good work!

    • The Guat August 14, 2012 at 2:25 PM #

      Thanks for your kind words 🙂 I’m glad that we relate on many different levels and that my experiences bring you laughter and the thank-God-it-happens-to-someone-else-too moments. I hear you about running into parents that think they’re on the cover of Family Magazine or something … everything just right and nothing out of place. Yeah … it’s a lie. They can’t handle the truth. I tend to avoid them because I’m the master of tired-grouchy-trying-to-get-by over here 🙂

  3. The Hook August 14, 2012 at 2:11 PM #

    Boy, this one takes me back…. Thank you.

  4. island traveler August 14, 2012 at 7:11 PM #

    Parenthood is a lifetime of roller coaster ride. There are days we’re up and at the top of the world, other days down and low, and others days just terrified and others days screaming with excitement. Whew!

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