Why My Kids Will Never Make Me Happy

Why My Kids Will Never Make Me Happy

A controversial title to this blog but bear with me and all will become clear! It took quite some time for me to get pregnant with my eldest; every month was an emotional rollercoaster. I was convinced that having a child would end this turmoil, the formula for life was simple - a child would make me happy and not having one would continue to make me unhappy. 

I was blessed though and after nearly a year I caught. The moment she was born was an intensely joyful experience. There is no doubt that in that moment my daughter had brought me happiness. This was my happy ever after.

Time has a habit of moving us forward though and the post birth high doesn’t last till they turn 18. Quite frankly you are lucky if it lasts more than a couple of days; I remember one night, when she was crying constantly. I paced up and down the landing for what felt like hours; I can’t say she made me happy then.

On another occasion my perfect child threw the food I had lovingly prepared all over the wall. I had spent ages cooking, blending, freezing little ice cube dinners for her and it felt as if she was throwing my attempts at perfect motherhood all over the wall too. I can’t say she made me happy then either.

When she was 2 and she told me she wanted to wear a hat, 30 seconds later she didn’t want to wear the hat, another 30 seconds and she changed her mind again. I ended up on the floor with tears in my eyes because I had no idea what to do with this stupid damn hat. She definitely didn’t make me happy that day.

Over the last 6 years there have been many moments like this, in fact the older she got and the more children I had, the more they seemed to happen.  Life as a parent is quite frankly exhausting and the awesome happy ever after didn’t always seem… happy.

Or at least that’s what I thought.

Through a lot of soul searching I now see things differently. The happiness was always there but it was inside me not attached to my children. I am responsible for my happiness. They are not responsible for it. Yes, they bring me joy but ultimately, we can’t make our offspring responsible for our happiness. Relying on anyone else to do this for us will never work as we will ultimately always be disappointed. Not because they are doing something wrong but because they are dancing to their own tune or at least they should be (and if they are dancing to yours, then you better start saving for their therapy).

It’s the same for everyone - parents, friends, spouses but especially children.  It is unfair on them to live with the burden of their parent’s mental well-being. In my case, with small children, it’s the little things that get me. Refusal to put their shoes on without me telling them 6 times, putting all their toys in the middle of the floor after I spent an hour cleaning, breaking a new and expensive toy… I could write a whole blog post just listing these things. The question is though, not how to stop this stuff happening. If you want to do that you need to find a different parenting blog (and then tell me which one it is) but work out how to let it go. After all, why should their decision to listen or in most cases, not listen determine my happiness?

There are many different techniques to separate your own happiness from other people’s actions; from deep breathing to cognitive behaviour therapy but the main thing I have learnt on this Contented Family journey is just to work every day on your own well-being; consciously make positive choices, don’t pressurise yourself with unattainable expectations and focus on gratitude.

By taking care of yourself, these moments won’t knock you down as much; you will be in a better place to deal with them. In my case when I am on form, then by some miracle they happen less (either that or I just don’t notice them as much)!

I always think about the example I want to set for my kids. I want to teach them that they are the only ones responsible for their own happiness. I want them to understand that they control their own world by managing their emotions and their responses to situations. The only way to do this is by showing how to do it. Be happy! Children learn more by copying how we respond and behave. The best way I can teach them this life changing skill is to model the self-reliant behaviour myself. I will show my children that they can have happy ever after at any time. They just have to look inside and find it in themselves.

Lisa Barry has three children and manages (most of the time) to create a work life balance as both a mum and business owner.  When the kids aren't running circles around her, she is a copywriter working with fierce female entrepreneurs who want to raise their online visibility.

You can visit Lisa's website at http://www.lisabarryonline.com/