Yesterday afternoon I awoke from a nap to find my 17 year old daughter standing next to my bed, smiling. She said to me that I looked happy.
I thought about that a lot for some time later.
I’ve become so mindful about weeding negativity from my life in all its insidious forms, that I’m at that point now where every word that comes from someone else’s mouth seems like it is in neon lights. When I hear someone speaking negatively (about themselves, others, the state of the world) I want to say: listen to yourself. Listen to the words you’re putting out there. Don’t you realise how powerful they are?
What happens if someone’s been in your life a long time and you are at your wit’s end of listening to their negative self talk? Do you allow them to keep up the mindless chatter or do you pull them up on it (every single time)? Or, do you go your separate ways? Maybe they’re showing you the last places of negativity still inside you?
As a parent, we are 24/7 role models for our children by what we say and what we do, and by our body language.
In my 12 years of editing The Mother magazine, I heavily focussed on meeting a child’s biological needs. Many people missed the importance of this and took it to mean that somehow they’d have to sacrifice a huge chunk of themselves to meet someone else’s needs, and frankly, that just seemed like hard work and incompatible with modern life. The truth is, though, in meeting our child’s needs we cement our bonding. And a bonded parent is a happy parent. Biological parenting isn’t just about the child. It’s about the relationship between parent and child.
Regardless of our parenting style, and how committed we are to attachment parenting, being happy is one of the greatest gifts we can show our children. Happiness and gratitude. These foundations shape our children for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t matter if you own a house or have three overseas holidays a year. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get to eat in fancy restaurants or wear boutique clothing. What matters is that you are happy within your skin. And happiness, to my mind, comes from being grateful for this amazing life we have. If you’re on a computer reading this, you are in the top percentage of people in this world living a luxurious life. If there are aspects of your life you don’t like, then work to change them. It all starts with the words which rattle around in your mind, and those which come out of your mouth. Yes, it’s really that simple (and that difficult).
It’s too easy to moan about the price of food or cost of electricity or council tax rates. It’s too easy to moan that the car registration is due. These things are luxuries. That you’re not roaming around forests or the desert trying to find your food is not something to take for granted.
Yes, things happen in life which are upsetting: the loss of a loved one, ill health, debts, loss of a home, and so on. But we always have a choice as to how we experience them, and the healthier we are (on every level) the more readily we can cope with such events.
As parents in the Western world, unless we’re in extreme physical pain all the time, then we really have very few reasons not to be happy most of the time. It’s a choice.
My mum didn’t have an easy job raising eight children (virtually single handed, as my dad worked overseas), but when I think of her, I always see mum with a huge smile on her face. When she phones and leaves messages on my answering machine, I hear the laughter in her lyrical voice. Yes, I was blessed to be raised on 700 acres on Queensland’s Darling Downs, and to be surrounded by wildlife, my mum’s creativity, and a houseful of siblings, but what I remember most of all is my mum’s zest for life.
I hope, as the years go by, when my children think of me that they can look past all the years I was in physical pain and can remember that I, too, smiled. That I loved to laugh. That I was passionate about living this amazing life on Mother Earth. And more than anything, that I lived to create a happy family life.