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No Foolin’: You Don’t Have to Be a Parent to Lighten Up

April 10, 2016

imagesIt’s no secret that I love April because it’s National Poetry Month, and I love celebrating. Starting out with April Fool’s Day adds to the fun, too. I love coming up with pranks for others to play, although I have a hard time keeping a straight face long enough when I play them myself.

At first glance, Gretchen Rubin’s focus on Parenthood in her April Chapter entitled “Lighten Up” might be off-putting to readers who have no children, but she makes so many valid points that anyone can put to use.

In this post, I want to focus on the idea she presents of “fog happiness,” that intangible kind of happiness you can’t quite put a finger on, can’t define or quantify. In her case, she defends the idea that having children increased her happiness, even though on a day-to-day basis it may be hard to convince others–or even herself.  I always think back to a piece by Dennis Prager, “The Secret of True Happiness” I read in Reader’s Digest many years ago, distinguishing between happiness and fun.

She gives examples of other activities that didn’t feel like happiness while she was in the middle of them but that produced feelings of happiness, ranging from contentment to exhilaration. She mentions a friend working like a dog throwing a party who said her fun begins afterward, when she recalls the party. This may seem contradictory in light of her March discussion of the “arrival fallacy” in which we miss the pleasure of the moment when we’re so focused on the destination. In the case mentioned here, some of the work, discomfort, displeasure is mollified by the potential end result.

Now that I’m a grandmother, with the different perspective that affords me, I remember older women telling me, “Enjoy those little ones. They don’t stay little long.” They were right. In retrospect I recall lots of fun I wasn’t relishing at the time. I do remember deciding that no matter what else was pressing, I had time to tell a bed time story, to read a poem (or ten), to listen to their prayers, to sing a few of their favorite songs. I’m glad I did.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 10, 2016 7:37 pm

    I don’t recall singing at bedtime for Wendy and Jay, but I surely do remember stories. Wendy loved books and always wanted more than one read. So . . . I’d spread out about 15 on her bed, have her close her eyes, and point to 3 that she wanted to hear. Oh, dear . . . I was a bad mother. Sometimes, if I was in a hurry to get to a set of papers, I’d choose 3 relatively short one for her. She didn’t really care which ones we read, just as long as we read three. Jay was different. He didn’t like to read books. He wanted me to make up stories for him. I surely do wish I could remember the ones that came to mind. They didn’t really have to make sense just as long as they were fanciful. I think he was always in the stories as the hero. Different kids, huh?

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