I asked my two older kids yesterday if they had to apply percentages to my parenting joyfulness vs. my crankiness, what would it be. One said 75/25 and the other said 60/40. I wasn’t too dismayed by the 75/25 but 60/40??!! Seriously? That means almost half the time I seem cranky? That is just completely unacceptable. Later on my husband gave me a much higher score but still, if the kids view me as someone who’s cranky that much, something’s totally got to give.
So I made a goal of 90/10. That seemed doable and seemed more realistic that going for 100%. Even my daughter admitted that she didn’t really want a mom who was 100% joyful. Too much pressure to perform I guess. She also said sometimes she likes to get my goat and it wouldn’t be as fun if she knew I was always just gonna be on the joy bus. (she admitted it!!)
Shortly after this conversation I went to the grocery store with my son and we had a total joy fest. Seriously, we had so much fun. And I truly believe the fun factor was bumped simply because I made a choice to go for the joy. It felt that easy.
As we made our way through the store I let some things go that I might have corrected or fixed or minded before. I laughed at things that I might have felt the need to object to before – like when he said he was going to ride his skateboard down the empty aisle, I just smiled and thought to myself, go ahead. It won’t impact anyone and if it does, they’ll tell him. Instead of me being the one who objected or corrected I simply raised one eyebrow and smiled. He then laughed too and said he really had no intention of doing it, he was just joking. Then we played “what if…”. What if he really did it. What if we all did it. What if people were just going nuts riding up and down the aisles and swinging around the corners. Later on we took photos in the parking lot. I pulled him on his skateboard as we returned the cart to the cart lot. We played. We laughed. We still got everything done that needed to get done. Only it was way more fun. We even got a few smiles from passersby who were enjoying our playfulness. And it all took way less time than it would have otherwise.
We went through the whole store like that and weirdly felt like we were on vacation. And I realized that’s what a decision for joy feels like. Like vacation. When I let certain things go that I might not let go of otherwise. When I move through tasks easily and fluidly because, well, we’re on vacation and the thing we’re doing right then is the only thing that matters.
And I realized too, that’s the feeling that joy brings. That what we’re doing at that very moment is really the only thing that matters. And doing it joyfully makes it easier, more fun, more connected and more satisfying.
I’m changing my goal to 95/5. That seems realistic for most days. And fun too. And I’m going to rate my own percentages at the end of each day. Who knows, I might even make up little rating cards for my family. RATE MOM’S JOY PERCENTAGE. But mostly it’ll be about a feeling. And when I feel it, I’ll know it for sure.