Today’s Poetry Type:
Love, Laughter, Learning, Life
Love laughter learning bring sweetness to life
Avoiding strife is how our peace survives
We fill our lives with joys not strife
And create life with happiness that thrives
But does it work, I hear you say
Can only play make the mind strong?
Or are we wrong, living a dream
Not what they seem, our claims?
Are we forcing artificial joy
On girl and boy, the kind that maims
Parental aims just might be wrong
Nimble and strong, no shames
Two bright shining minds that love to learn
No grades to earn or homework to endure
Just learning purely because they both yearn
To take their turn as adults who are sure
That they can find the rich sweetness of life
Avoid the knife of unconscious dull lives
Where slim hope dies beset, bested by strife
Never know life where happiness survives
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “If Mama ain’t happy; ain’t nobody happy.”
While I think that may be true, as far as it goes, I think it misses a lot of crucial detail. In our family, we’ve got a different approach, a family principle we’ve used since the kids were 7 and 4 years old:
“Everyone gets to be safe and happy.”
Yes, everyone. Mom, Dad, Miah, and Lise. The pets. The people we encounter out in the world. This principle is our ideal, and we strive to live up to it. It’s become so ingrained in our family psyche and dynamic that we seldom need to articulate it anymore. It’s just a part of our lives.
Because of this, I’ve discovered a secret:
“When the kids are happy, Mama is happy, and then she’ll help everyone to be happier.”
It really is that simple, and that complicated. It doesn’t mean giving kids everything they want, or going along with them doing whatever they want. Children – even older ones like my 12.5 and 15 year olds – look to adults for guidance on how to handle life – the good and the bad, the people and things it’s made of. Just turning a blind eye and providing every possible material benefit might indulge surface desires, but it isn’t the key to actual happiness.
That comes from knowing that those most important to you can see you, know you, care about your feelings, your safety, your dreams and dislikes. That they accept you, but believe that you can become more than you are right now.
When those needs are met with genuine care and affection, happiness isn’t a matter of getting everything you want as much as it is knowing that those you love and depend on place value on what you want. Sometimes you won’t get it – circumstances stand in the way. Maybe the money’s not there – like for the liquid-cooled gaming computer my son would love to own, but knows is well beyond our budget.
Maybe it’s a legal matter – our daughter’s yearning for a horse when she was younger was in opposition to our local zoning ordinances, even if the money had been there.
Sometimes what someone wants is simply impossible. Three year old Lise was heartbroken when she realized she couldn’t flap her arms enough to learn to fly. Everyone in our family feels the ongoing hurt of knowing that our second child lived and died in only twelve days, and that Lise, born a year later, never got to meet this brother, and never will.
But happiness comes from understanding these things, as the Serenity Prayer says:
“God grant me the courage to change the things I can;
The patience to accept the things I can’t;
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
By living this, and accepting that each of us has dreams and desires, dislikes and fears, we remain open to talking things through in a way that accommodates everyone as much as possible.
It’s a way to see possibilities we might have missed, and compromises that might be made – no horse, but natural horsemanship lessons. No liquid-cooled computer, but the freedom to customize a refurbished laptop to his specifications. Acceptance that some hurts, like physical limitations and death, can’t be talked away, but that sharing the pain can offer a salve against the raw jagged edges it leaves behind.
Historically, happy people are less likely to want to cause pain or foist hardships on others for their own benefit. It’s neediness, and the feeling of not counting, that lead to attempting to wrest from someone else what seems to be lacking in one’s own life. Happy people, people who can find fulfillment in the life they have, tend to want others to have the same.