I read something the other day that made my stomach turn. A blog chastising moms to “love it all” and “enjoy every minute of it.”
There are plenty of moments in parenting that just plain bite.
There are plenty of moments when I am not joy-filled as I clean up squashed and crunchy food on the floor, separate my two kiddos as they bug each other…for the upteenth time…that hour, look down and realize that I have strawberry stains from little hands on my ONE (ONE!) NEW cute, stain-free t-shirt, and think about how in the world am I going to get to the Y today?!
It’s in those moments when jumping in to being “joyful” would be to deny what is present right here, right now.
Yes, I get the whole “self-talk” thing and “positive thinking” thing and the “you have a choice in every moment” thing. While there is a place for “embracing the positive” and “choosing joy”….
…there is also a crucial first step that we CAN NOT skip. Whenever we deny what is present — anger, rage, sadness, loneliness (you name it) — we cannot embrace true joy. I’m not talking about getting all mired in the emotion (that doesn’t help either! Then we are hijacked). I’m talking about not chasing after joy, clinging to it, and believing that it’s a permanent feeling. We set ourselves up to feel awfully guilty if we believe we should be joyful every moment and we deny what is currently present within us.
So what do we do?
Before running after joy, “shoulding” ourselves in to it; before getting mired in our emotions…… we pause.
We notice whatever is present.
We say “Ahhh, I see you, dear one” with tenderness.
We put our hand on our heart.
We allow whatever arises space to be.
Without clinging or pushing away — anything.
And what happens? We soften! We relax. We create spaciousness. Insight arises. We embrace the next right thing to do…which may be mom taking a “mama time-out” or hugging and saying sorry…and going outside to play and buy something from the ice cream truck that comes down our street riiiiight around dinner time.
Ironically, as we accept WHAT IS — without denying anything or forcing ourselves to ‘be joyful’ — joy naturally arises. A deeper joy that sustains us.
So don’t fake the joy. Create the space for it to rise on its own.