A clean house and happy kids.
Every approaching birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas when we would ask my mom what she wanted, she would say, “A clean house and happy kids.” There were 6 of us, so those two things seemed continually mutually exclusive. We could clean the house, or we could be cheerful and get along, but often not both at the same time.
But my mom was confused. She didn’t really want a clean house and happy kids.
What she really wanted is the same thing we all want: to feel good.
She thought that a clean house would make her life better, that she would feel peace and appreciation when there were no toys on the floor, the toilets were clean, and all the vacuuming was done.
She thought that if her kids were happy, then she would be happy, which is funny because it’s the exact opposite of the idea that “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
The truth is that they’re both wrong. Houses don’t create our feelings. Other people don’t create our feelings, not even our children or our mothers.
We create our own feelings with our thoughts.
And what a gift it is to our children not to put them in charge of our emotional well-being. If you can feel like a good parent whether or not your child is choosing to obey at the moment, that gives you a lot more peace and freedom to show up as the parent you want to be. You can choose love no matter what your children do, and have the presence of mind to know just what love looks like in any given moment.