Happy Mama. Happy Life. Dammit.
My friend Karen Salmansohn is a well known writer of cheeky self-help books like “How to Be Happy, Dammit.” and guru who you need to check out on NotSalmon.com. She’s sold over 1 million books, is an Oprah columnist, and a damn good mom… but not in that order. You see, if you asked Karen what she’s most proud of, she probably wouldn’t talk about her success in helping millions of people live happier lives, or the dozens of books she’s published, or the dozens of self-help courses she’s curated, or the work she does daily to help businesses operate more effectively… no, I know she wouldn’t. Although we haven’t been in touch in many years, I know Karen. She’s a unique gift from above, sent here for many reasons, but the most important of all, the only reason that really matters, is to be a damn good mom to her son Ari.
Karen is the inspiration for this blog post, just in time for mother’s day. When I think about what it takes to be a damn good mom, I immediately think of my own mom. I think of the struggles she’s had to overcome, the fight she’s taken on to do what’s right and best for her kids, and I think of all of my mommy friends, who are rock stars in so many ways. I think of my best friend, who’s baby is dying… this friend who is like family to me, but who I feel like I am just seeing for the first time. She amazes me – how real she is, how strong, and how much love she is capable of sharing – not only with her family, but with the world (you can read her blog – The Warm Weight Of Love – here).
Thinking of all these amazing moms, the answer to my pondering thought comes to light. WHAT does it take to be a damn good mom? There are thousands of books on parenting, but reading a book can never replace good old fashion experience and trial and error. So what is it? I am going to tell you the ONE AND ONLY thing that matters when it comes to raising healthy, happy kids… it’s not only something I’ve learned from experience, but it’s a proven fact that is so simple to comprehend, but almost impossible to implement.
Like a Malcolm Gladwell book, the premise is easy to understand, and the facts that back it up are complex and astounding. But you really only need to read the first few chapters to “get it” – sorry Malcolm.
Are you ready? Here goes…
To be a damn good mom you must… (drumroll please)…
Be happy dammit.
Yes, seriously. You must do what you can, all that you can, with all of the help and support you can enroll, to make yourself happy.
The process of finding TRUE happiness is the best lesson a kid can learn. Learning to be happy with themselves, to know how to draw boundaries, fill their own buckets, communicate with friends, lovers and colleagues in order to achieve happiness in relationships, and to live a life of love, passion, and compassion, is EVERYTHING your kids need to be successful, healthy and happy.
The PLACE kids learn these tools/skills/behaviors… from their parents, and mostly, from their moms. No pressure. Speaking of Oprah, I found an article from 2009 on Oprah.com entitled: The One Thing Every Parent Wants. They want “their child(ren) to be happy”. The article talks about how we as parents cannot force our kids to be happy, but, Every day, in each moment, you can offer essential encouragement through your loving presence, your own example and your steadfast support.
Again, this is not easy. No one can be HAPPY ALL OF THE TIME. But in motherhood, I am learning that by taking care of myself, I give myself a better chance of being happy and fulfilled, and I am in turn providing my children with the BEST. And my kids deserve the best. All kids deserve the best.
ALL children deserve parents who loves themselves, and can make themselves happy. Lot’s of people want to have a baby, to fulfill some emptiness or need inside of them. And so from the moment these kids are born, they have the impossible task of fulfilling that need for their parents. If we don’t need our kids to make us happy, it takes the pressure off them, and gives us the added gift of self love, care and satisfaction. It’s a WIN WIN.
Your kids are little sponges – at ALL ages – they soak up everything around them, and they make everything they see/hear/learn, mean something. Even if they are unaware of this, or too young to analyze their own thought process, we all process information in our own way. If we, as children, see our parents loving themselves, and working to be truly happy, that is what we will strive for in our own lives. It is the barometer we will measure our happiness by. It is the measuring stick we will use forever in our own lives. Again, no pressure.
What are your kids soaking up?
Many people joke – “happy wife, happy life”. This is not an untrue statement. But what it could say, what would be more true is, “happy mama, happy life. Dammit!”.
What I can’t tell you is HOW to be happy.
True happiness is a journey. It’s a windy road full of bumps and blockades. The only way to be successful on your journey to happiness is to JUST START, and KEEP GOING. Try little things like getting a mani/pedi – and while you’re getting a pedi, write a list of things you need. Share that list with your husband, family and friends. Be honest with yourself and others. If something is not serving you on your journey, end it. If you fail, it’s okay – WE ALL FAIL. Just brush it off, learn the lesson, and keep moving forward. See where the little things lead you… WONDERFULLY big things inevitably pop up.
It takes one step forward. That’s it. Be happy mama. Dammit!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Lindsay (Mama) O’Neill