“Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.”― Henri J.M. Nouwen
Rays of sunlight danced on the water illuminating the reflection of a beautiful garden as the laughter of children filled the air. But I wasn’t enjoying it.
While my three-year-old played in the pool with her friends, my ears were tuned for the next shouts of “Stop It!” indicating that she was again, being too rough. In my arms, my ten-month-old squirmed, wanting to crawl around on the rough paving surrounding the pool, intent on putting whatever mulch, leaf or stray cigarette butt he could find in his mouth. Instead of noticing the beautiful surroundings or enjoying the company of my friends, I internally lamented my lot:
wondering when I would get some peace;
when I would be able to relax and not worry about my daughter hurting someone;
when I would be able to have time to let my son explore in a safe environment without worrying about scraped knees or ingested mulch.
I counted down the minutes until I could leave and put my son to bed and my daughter in her room for quiet time. I wished my afternoon away.
When I finally found myself at home, basking in the peace of a home filled with sleeping children, I decided that I was tired. Not just physically tired from lack of adequate sleep – which I was – but tired of wishing away my life.
- Tired of being angry.
- Tired of lamenting my lot instead of doing something about it.
- Tired of not choosing to be joyful.
So instead of cleaning the kitchen and starting on preparations for an elaborate stir-fry dinner, I defrosted some fish and decided on a simpler dinner.
Instead of taking my daughter to the pool in the afternoon as I do every day, only to spend the afternoon reminding her not to drown her friends, I decided to take her for ice-cream and bring her home to watch a movie while her brother crawled around happily playing with his toys.
We never go out for ice-cream, because ice-cream isn’t good for you.
We never watch movies because, at three, she is too young for movies.
But today I decided that I would choose joy. Choose to do something fun.
Even if it was “bad” for her. I decided that I needed to learn to let go a little. Let go of some of my strict standards. Let go of my need to control every moment. And it worked.
We had ice cream, we watched a movie, we had an afternoon full of joy and hugs and laughter.
But will I be able to do it tomorrow?
Thanks for Reading!
Sharon, Author of The Conscious Parenting Notebook