We all have those days that we feel…down. Like maybe we’re a bad parent. Like we’re totally failing at this “raising a child” thing. Like our kid may have been possessed by an evil spirit. Like you’re just not reaching them, whether they’re a two-nager or a real-life teenager.
Today, I bring you a tip that I learned in my college teaching classes (because apparently those incredible professors knew exactly how rough – like, how many times does a teacher consider quitting during their career rough – teaching would be).
Those sage ladies suggested taking anything that warmed our hearts – a sweet drawing from a student, a positive review, a favorite response on an assignment, a picture of some awesome kids – and putting them into a file. Or a large envelope. Or an old shoebox. Whatever it may be, this is your “Happiness File.”
Or whatever you want to call it. I like to think of it as my “You’re Doing Something Right File.” Only, in this case, it’s not in my classroom (or library, as it were); it’s my life.
When it comes to your own children, this can be your favorite happy, smiling family photograph, your child’s first hand-scrawled “I LOVE YOU, MAMA” drawing, a super-sweet inspirational card your spouse gave you…the list goes on and on.
But, to round out your “Happiness File” (or even to simplify it a bit), I suggest proactively creating your own list, possibly in a simple “Note” on your phone, with brief, everyday bits of awesomeness that your children have provided you. Here are just a few that my sometimes-sweet-sometimes-threenager boy has added to my list lately:
– I’ve caught him with one of our cats, gently rubbing his face on Jasper’s belly while saying “who’s a good baby??” Seeing that unprovoked kindness is heartwarming.
– He’s started saying he wants to be a “librarier” and give books to people (the first time he’s shown an interest in my job, which is cool since he usually focuses on my husband’s previous job in news — which is also pretty cool). His awareness is awakening.
– Seeing a picture of my father’s senior picture and declaring, “He’s Bruce Wayne!!!” (Also particularly touching because my dad passed away when I was about my son’s age. Yeah, Hadley. He was a superhero in disguise.) His connections are hilarious, and oftentimes so very accurate.
– He’s finally started openly offering kisses, using an adorable, non-selfie duck face without our asking for one. I know I’ll miss this when he’s “too big” and “too cool” someday. His love currently knows no bounds.
– He has a sweet fondness and awareness of several types of music, including oldies (he loves the Monkees as much as I did as a child) and classical (he grew up listening to it in the car with his daddy, so the fact that he can proclaim composers correctly is awe-inspiring). Seeing where his interests develop (and that they sometimes follow our own, sometimes follow his own whims) is FUN!
– I am daily astounded by the vastness of his vocabulary, the fact that he can finally control a crayon enough to color in *just one area*, his awareness of letter sounds, and his sudden ability to simply circle an answer in our “same and different” workbook. He’s catching on, and smarter than I sometimes give him credit for.
By the way, this post isn’t about bragging about my son. (For example, we’re still working very hard at — and struggling with — potty-training…so, we’ve got that going for us. ;-)) They’re genuinely just examples of the simple (and sometimes, in our own eyes, amazing) ways that our kids show us on a daily basis how incredible they are…and, in turn, remind us that we’re not doing such a bad job, after all.
Does anyone else have a “Happiness File” or other cheer-you-up trick for those rough parenting days? (Or work days, for that matter?) The cool thing is that it can be as easy as tossing some Post-It notes in a shoebox, keeping a file on your phone, or (if you enjoy getting crafty) as complicated and beautiful as a scrapbook. Just remember that the ultimate point is that YOU’RE DOING AN AWESOME JOB, NO MATTER HOW YOU MAY FEEL SOME DAYS!