{mommydom} does parenting really make you happy?

Monday, May 12, 2014

The other day I went to a party, the first party I'd been to in a long time. But instead of taking my hot hubby as my date I had a baby date with my little Baby Bear. I saw a lot of friends I hadn't seen in a long time in a place I hadn't been to in quite a while. The rest of the party goers were mostly all marrieds, but I was pretty much the only parent around. I felt a little out of place.

I was particularly tired, having been out and about all day, especially since I am still in the early months of this new pregnancy.

We were there to celebrate a friend that had been one of my best friends during my single years. My friend and I chitchatted, trying to connect like we had years before when we were both single and a bit more wild and free, but I could tell it would take more than a few minutes to find that special place we once shared with each other.

She asked me about Baby Bear and commented on her cuteness and how fast she was walking and how big she'd gotten. I said things like "Oh thank you, she can be handful, but mostly she is super fun, love her to death" and the like.

She asked me how I was feeling and how my pregnancy was going. I said things like "Oh it's good, just really tired, most the nausea is gone, tuckered out from casing Baby Bear around" and the like.

A little later after some rounds of chit chat with other friends and friends-of-friends, I found myself back with my old dear friend. As she watched Baby Bear run outside to the back yard again to see the pup pup or find a ball to play with, she said something that made me a little sad.

"I get tired just thinking of having kids."

I wasn't really sad that she felt that way. It's true that parenting is exhausting. I was sad that I had helped give her that impression that so much of parenting was the work, and that the take away from our conversations was just that being a mom made me tired.

I suddenly realized that I had been so untrue to my truth.

I'm sure you can tell by looking around here that being a mom is the most fabulous thing in the world to me. But over the years I've become careful, trying to be sensitive to hidden heartbreaks. I love more than a few people that struggle with infertility. I know others who would love more than anything to be married and start a family, but who haven't found that in their lives yet. I know that the source of my most sacred and precious blessings can be the source another's heartbreak. 

My friend had been married for a while and didn't have any kids. Maybe they weren't ready for kids yet, maybe they couldn't have kids, maybe they didn't want kids at all, which in a culture like ours here can be a painful thing as well. I didn't know her desires or struggles on the matter so I tried to avoid any heartbreaks or hurt feelings by trying not to trumpet too loudly my love for mothering and for my Baby Bear.

I tried to speak to common ground with her. Everyone knows what it's like to be tired. It's easy to share a sympathetic nod at exhaustion. It's a lot harder to try to explain the crazy sensation of immediately feeling your heart stretch a little the moment you find out that your family is going from three to four or how crazy it is that you can love a little tiny embryo nearly as much as you love your rambunctious toddler.

Maybe if we shared that same special place we once had with each other I could have shared that with her and I could have watched her eyes to see if she understood just a little bit of how that can be. Instead I ended up downplaying the deep passion I have for being a mom and the endless and sometimes excruciating joy I get from loving her so much.

There is this really great interview on Radio West with Jennifer Senior, the author of All Joy and No Fun, a book that explores the juxtaposition of social science statistics that say that parenting makes you less happy and the view that most parents share that parenting is one of the biggest joys of their lives.

There she shares a conversation she had with George Valliant about the difference between Joy and Fun. He said that fun is ephemeral, instant gratification, fleeting, and often focused on self. He shared that joy most often springs from a deeply strong and magnificent connection with another person. She also relayed that joy is sometimes painful because implicit in joy is the fact that you might lose something so meaningful to you.

(That describes why just days after bringing my daughter home from the hospital I sat on the couch holding her and crying because I loved her so much and I realized that I could lose her at any moment.)

She also shared in the conversation that joy brings obligation, duty, and service that offers as a reward a greater sense of fulfillment and nobility. I feel that, just like most everything that is cherished in life, the struggle and work demanded by parenting brings much of the fulfillment, peace, and joy that is associated with having kiddos.

It is much easier to connect and relate with people on a happiness level than it is to really connect with them about things that give us joy. It is a lot easier to describe happiness and what it springs from than to describe joy and deep part of our souls where it resides. But I think I'm going to try.

I'm going to try to be true to the truth that parenting, like marraige, is really hard sometimes but that it is those hard times that make the happy moments so powerful and cherished. Parenting brings meaning into my life that I didn't know before. It's who I am, and I want to share that with others.

How do you share how parenting brings you joy? What words do you use to describe the things that bring you joy?

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  1. I LOVE this!! I think because becoming a mom is so personal, it's indescribable. I've tried to talk to my friends who don't have children and there is a disconnect. I appreciate your words on being sensitive to others dealing with

    1. Infertility.. We just never know who is dealing with secret pains. I love being a mom!!!!!


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