Recently I picked up a pamphlet titled "101 Things Parents Can Do to Help Children." I am going to try them all, but not necessarily in order.
The first one, for me, isn't even part of the list. It doesn't even have a number, and it's at the bottom, yet I think that it's the most important Thing of all: "Enjoy life together."
I love it when my kids are happy. I love it when I see that other people's kids are happy. I love it when I'm happy, and I love to see other people happy when they're with their kids.
But, does anyone have perfectly happy kids all the time? And, really, are any parents perfectly happy all the time? Maybe. If that's you, Kudos! I'm not sure that I believe you. More on that later.
My big questions are these: does happiness mean the same thing as enjoyment, do you need one in order to have the other, or can they be independent of one another; and, is 100% enjoyment an attainable (and healthy) goal?
I think that happiness and enjoyment can appear to be the same thing, but I think that they are also very different things. I think that happiness is more of a state of mind or a feeling in your heart, whereas enjoyment is a state of having fun. You can, for instance, be happy with your life in general, but at a particular moment you might not be enjoying what you are doing, or you could be depressed in general, but hey, right this second something tickled your fancy and you actually enjoyed this moment, if even for just a few seconds. So, no, you don’t need one to have the other, but it is probably easier to enjoy life and have fun when you’re happy than when you’re seriously depressed. I’ve known this to be true myself. On the other hand, finding a way to enjoy more and more little moments in your life can sometimes help you become happier in life. This too I know.
Is it possible, though, to enjoy absolutely everything you do, to enjoy 100% of your life (in this case, with your child)? I think only you can answer that for yourself, and I’m sure that someone out there will answer yes, and they might even mean it. Me? All I can do is to try. Yoda would be so disappointed.
Oh sure, I want to enjoy life together with my children, and I want them to enjoy life with me. I have to be realistic, though. I think that the more attainable (and healthier) goal for us would be to strive for 100% happiness. Okay, 90%, because let’s face it, crap happens that will make us sad every now and then. Enjoyment, however?
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that my toddler doesn’t enjoy his time-outs for inappropriate behaviour. Actually, I’m very sure. Yelling “You’re a bad mommy!” at me while I’m putting him in the time-out is a pretty big clue. But am I going to stop giving him time-outs for things like purposefully pouring his milk on the floor at supper time while you are telling him “No! Please do not pour your mil-argh!”? Or for pushing his baby brother over again when you just told him not to do it again or he’ll get a time-out for it? Nope. Time-outs are a pretty necessary thing; I do not want to be the parent with the completely out-of-control, spoiled brat of a child anywhere, even though he honestly tries to be that child sometimes, I swear.
I would like us all to be Happy most of the time while Enjoying the Fun things (with realistic expectations, of course) because even though we all have to do things that we don’t want to do at times, the fun should outweigh the miserable. Shouldn’t it?
I'd like it to.