“She stole my happy place!” My little boy’s cheeks were flushed and his eyes were doing that hurt puppy thing they always do when his heart is wrenched. It was the last hot day of the summer before Fall’s crisp days were upon us and the play date had gone great…until this moment. Later that night, the fun of playing construction worker and fast-food restaurant with his dear friend was still clouded by one moment. And that made me think.
How many times have we been happily trucking along through our day when BAM- the tiniest thing was said or we realized we really goofed? In that moment, no matter how great things had been going, it seems we have hit a brick wall and lost our happy mojo.
Last week my husband was traveling and I was rocking right along. Unlike some mornings when he is gone and I start us off badly by oversleeping, forgetting to sign papers, fussing at one kid or another for leaving their packed lunch in the fridge or ranting about the perpetually abominable state of my teenagers’ rooms, this was a good one. I got up in plenty of time to make myself presentable, had my kindergartener’s lunch packed and breakfast ready for each kid. Everyone even got to their school or bus on time with a last-minute kiss on their cheek! I was happily tidying up the Legos and sipping on coffee when I got this text.
Mom! I can’t believe you forgot picture day! 8th graders have to wear “formal attire” like my blazer, dress shirt, tie and khakis. I know you are stressed out because Daddy is gone, but come on! This is important!
Dum. Dum. Dum. Key the failure music. My bubble was burst. My morning was clearly shot. Of course I quickly took his clothes to the school in time for pictures but by then it was too late for me. I was already feeling like I’d failed my kid and no mom likes that feeling. Should he have remembered? At 13, he absolutely should, but so should I. With three kids in three different schools, activities which set a different afternoon schedule every day, a house and a small business to run AND let’s not forget the husband, it’s no wonder I forget things sometimes. For a couple of hours, I even beat myself up about it. It wasn’t until bedtime, when my baby boy said, “I still can’t find my happy place” that I realized what I had done. I’d allowed a temporary setback to steal my joy and cloud my whole afternoon.
When I was growing up, Mama wisely reminded me often that our genuine happiness, our true joy is much deeper than a moment or even a day. In fact, if I base my feelings solely on how I perform or how the day is going, I will surely experience disappointment every time. Those moments and days are like my finished laundry status- temporal. If I dig a little deeper and step back from the moment, I realize that my feelings are ever-changing, as well. They do not define me, my day or my life. Her lessons on joy point me straight to the Giver of true joy and are a great reminder of those elements in my life that give lasting, sustainable joy. For me, that begins with knowing I am a daughter of the King and what girl didn’t always dream of being royalty? My amazing husband, children and extended family bring me joy (okay, most of the time). And let’s not forget about friends. My girlfriends keep me grounded, provide the necessary comic relief (or laugh with me when I’m the reason for the chuckle) and remind me that I am not alone.
We grow up knowing that an “F” is bad, but as an adult, I am learning to change my perspective. In those moments of stolen joy, the best way I have found from completely considering the day a flop is to remind myself to claim an “F”, not for my performance but because of the value of three important things: faith, family and friends. I goofed. It happens and in some very imperfect way, every day I am gifted to live and breath, something will. We wouldn’t easily give away our treasure! Let’s stop allowing our joy to so easily be stolen. Tomorrow is a new day, ladies, and our joy is rooted in so much more than a moment. It’s time to reclaim our happy place.