Parenting: What makes Mom happy?

On the eve of another Mother’s Day, millions of people will ponder this question. If they are stumped, it may not be their fault! Lots of moms know what we seldom dare to say: “They couldn’t pay me enough for this job!!” And it’s true. All the hundreds of thousands of things mothers do for their families add up to absolutely priceless service. It’s actually curious that we still undervalue our irreplaceable worth. Yet, even the idealization of the mother role does not serve us well because we tend to look at it as an unreachable standard. When our expectations of ourselves don’t measure up to such a lofty pinnacle, we can feel discouraged.

A woman I’ve known for years named Molly once told me this story: She was in the kitchen, cleaning up from one meal to go out to dinner on Mother’s Day, and her husband asked her where she would like to go. She mumbled something about, “Oh, I don’t care, whatever you and the kids want.” Truly desiring to please her, this time her husband was not satisfied with her answer. “No, Molly, where do YOU want to go? What would YOU like to eat? What are YOU hungry for?” Molly shared with me that that was a pivotal moment in her life. She stopped and tried her best to reach inside and see what in the world she would prefer. She realized to her astonishment that she had absolutely no idea! She suddenly was struck by the fact that the family on this day was not going to feel as good about the day if she did not do her part by receiving a gift she would truly enjoy. Molly was raised by a mother who also always gave to her children yet she was always tired. Her own mother seemed to do everything for everyone and was somehow always sad. Molly realized that she had turned into her mother and, quite frankly, felt a tinge of guilt when she would think of taking time just for herself. Right then, Molly decided she would try to turn her self-care around and find out what brought her joy and peace.

Do you remember staring at the blue sky above the water at the beach before you had kids? Do you remember daydreaming or gazing at the beauty of Spring? Research has shown us now that a lapse in conscious thought is not only healthy for us but absolutely essential for the renewal of the mind and body. People need transcendental experience. I believe that these experiences are most often related to wholesome beauty, in whatever way an individual perceives it most strongly. Nature and art forms often call to us, but unfortunately in our achievement oriented, analytical society, they have become considered frivolous, or worse, undervalued for the nurturance they give to human beings. I believe that beauty in nature or art (music and poetry as well as visual arts) is as nourishing to our minds, psyche, and spirit as healthy food is to our bodies. Children just naturally know this and run toward nature and art. While adults often deprive themselves of this much needed source of joy.

What sparks a passionate feeling of loveliness in you? A beautiful garden? A painting? A certain style of music? Knitting? Beadwork? A favorite poem? Calligraphy? A walk in the woods? If you are looking for what that passion is, checkout the website HYPERLINK “” and the Seven Secrets of a Joyful Life. Whatever it is, take time to connect with your passion. Give yourself the gift of a joyful experience through an art form of your choice, or some time off in nature. When you give yourself the gift of enjoyment, it’s good for your family too! Like a bumper sticker I saw in Lynnwood gridlock many years ago:

“Ain’t Mom Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”

Marisa LaRue MA, LMHC is a member of the Family Support Alliance and works with individuals, couples, and families in Clinton and Coupeville. She lives on South Whidbey.

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