Growing up, I remember my mom saying: “You are only as happy as your saddest child.” This past week, her words have echoed through my thoughts as I’ve driven carpool, jogged around my neighborhood and tried to fall asleep at night.
When I was pregnant, I constantly prayed for happy, healthy children. I felt like it would be greedy to add anything else to the list (smart, athletic, attractive, driven, artistic, musical or socially gifted…). When you boil it all down, these are the two greatest blessings.
One of the most difficult facts about motherhood is that I can’t actually control my children’s happiness or their health. I can make sure that all of their basic needs are met. I can teach by my example. I can preach (by far my most used and least effective tactic). I can provide constant love and support. But, I can’t do it for them. I can’t make them make healthy choices or follow my advice.
I can’t control what cruelties life hurls at me or my family. But, I can control how I react. Do I get depressed? Angry? Even? Or, do I choose to count my blessings? Happiness is a choice.
A wise man once told me not to build a shrine to my sadness or anger. He encouraged me to make our home a happy retreat, separate from the unkind world. He told me to have faith and to trust that there are lessons to be learned; in the future, we will be able to look back and laugh at the memories that are painful realities today.
When my mind starts to go toward the sadness, I must force myself to focus on the joy. I must choose to find the beauty in the ugly. I must choose to celebrate the simplest blessings, which are plentiful. Honestly, even on my darkest days – the good still outweighs the bad. I just have to make the choice to focus on what’s right…again and again and again.
Focusing on what’s right in my life takes away the power of what isn’t. It also allows me to be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend…a better all-around person.