Friday, January 23, 2015

Finding Joy When It's Hidden in the Pile of Dirty Socks

Way too often, I look up and find my joy floating away in the flood of whiny tots, dried bits of play-doh sprinkled on the floor, dishes that never do themselves, and endless meal planning.  Throw in the occasional waves of financial stresses, arguments with my husband, sicknesses, and short nights, and I start to seriously NOT LIKE anyone.

  How can this possibly happen?

Even in my crabbiest mood, I can still run the positive-spin-cycle in my head.  "You've got three beautiful, healthy daughters.  You've got a husband who works hard and loves his family very much.  You get to stay home with your daughters instead of going to work.  You've got family and friends galore.  You've got a warm house and nice clothes and food to eat.  WHAT is wrong with you?"

And most of the time, I can't even come up with an answer to suit.  Maybe the kids have been especially trying that day.  Maybe Bryan said something that hurt my feelings.  Maybe I'm just plain exhausted.

Quite likely I've let something come in and ransack my joy.  Quietly, stealthily, these scoundrels
 creep in and pluck all my joy-fruit. 

What to do?

ID the Joy-Stealers.  Here's a few of mine.
  • Discontentment.  It's *usually* not about material stuff for me - though there are certainly moments - but wishing my husband would change in some way.  Wishing my kids would be better behaved.  Wishing I could go out and do more.  Wishing I could do anything without getting interrupted every 2 1/2 minutes.  
  • Exaggeration - just read the last sentence of the previous paragraph.  I'm bad at this.
  • Forgetting to be thankful.  When I read the news headline "1-Year-Old Battles Brain Cancer," my life starts to look pretty great.
  • Lack of trust.  How in the world are we going to pay for that?  What if that thing that I'm worrying about at 2 am actually happens?  I always seem to forget about that whole lilies of the field thing.  
  • Too little sleep.  Sometimes there's nothing that can be done about this right away.  But identifying what's wrong can help me realize that tomorrow will hopefully be better.
  • Lack of proper nutrition.  Or...have I even taken time for a decent meal today between the kiddo who blew her diaper and required a major clean-up effort and the birthday cake that needed decorating and the 4 oz of milk that turned into a gallon when it was spilled on the floor?
  • Facebook.  It's way too easy to look behind the picture of the smiling toddler at the mommy's fine kitchen and wish I had a kitchen like that.  Or read that story about the child who did something so clever and think that my child would never come up with anything like that.  And then after a solid twenty minutes of finding nothing interesting, I realize I just wasted the time that it would have taken to put away a load of laundry.  And since I don't want my kiddos' memories of their childhood to be shaded by their mommy's addiction to Facebook, I only allow myself to check it when they are in bed.
  • Regrets.  I'm constantly rehashing things I said, things I did.  Might have been last night or ten years ago.  But what did Paul say?  Forget what is behind.  Strain toward what is ahead.  Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward!  I'm guessing Paul knew a thing or two about regrets, too.
  • Focusing on the unimportant things.  Yes, the floor is filthy.  But the kids are laughing.  It's all about focus.
  • Forgetting where I've been.  Haven't we been through trials before?  Haven't bad days gone on to lead to good days?
  • General disorder and chaos.  I can only handle this for so long.  If I take twenty minutes, rally the troops, and get the house straightened, the floor swept, and the dishes put away, I really feel so much better.
Replace them with Joy-Fillers.  These are some things that sometimes work for me.
  • Put on some music.  What a difference a little bit of music infused into the house makes.  I love Spotify because I can put together playlists with specific songs - and, it's free!  Follow me on Spotify to see my playlists.

  • Write down 5 things for which I am thankful.  Here's my 5 today:
    • The sun that just poked through the clouds and lit up our living room.
    • The imaginations of children who are passing the hours being horses.
    • My washer and dryer that make stinky peed-on crib blankets all clean and nice-smelling with almost no effort on my part.
    •  Dirty dishes get clean so much faster if I'm listening to a delightful tale of adventure or mystery.
    • Coffee.  Really good coffee.
  • Take a picture.  In it, the mundane will become extraordinary.  The sun glinting off the golden-haired child.  The sparkle in her eyes.  The warm house filled to overflowing with toys, clothes, and life.  
  • Socialize.  A texting conversation, a phone call, a Facebook message.  Whatever.  Sometimes I feel socialized just by logging on to one of my favorite mommy blogs to read about how awful her day was.  
  • Do a project or play a game with the kiddos.  As much work as it seems to get started, I always feel happier when we're done.
  • Take a break.  Sit down with a good book for at least ten minutes.  The laundry can stay in the wash machine for that long.
  • Go outside.  Get a little bit of fresh air, even if it's just a walk to the mail box.  Or just stick my head out the door and breathe deeply.
  • Accomplish something.   The closet is clean or the baby book is filled out or the shoes are organized with the too-small ones (or, as Kyla said, the ones that have been "overflowed") put away for the next child.  Makes me happy.
  • Smile.  There is scientific research backing me up on this one.  The more we smile, the happier we are.
  • Read funny Mom Memes.

chocolate stash

parenting reality

family dinner nick mom


you know you're a mom

point of view

oh nooo




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