The Pursuit of Happiness

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A year or so ago I wrote a blog on the importance of Mom being happy – ’cause if Mom isn’t happy, then certainly no one else in the house is.  I longed for joy-filled days and had never realized until last year how it was truly up to me to change this.

It’s been a long time coming, but I am finally seeing the fruits of my labor.  Some days I still find myself giving in to that old familiar mindset, but more often than not, I’m able to keep things positive.

The beauty in this process is the resulting joy I’ve found in our daily routine.  I had no idea how much of my struggle was tied up in my negative beliefs.  Besides feeling happier personally, my days with the kiddos are smoother all around.

On ‘good’ days, I notice how much more present I am with my children – my interaction with them flows seamlessly.  On ‘bad’ days I tend to be distracted or deep in my anxious thoughts.  And I know without a doubt that my little ones deserve more than that.  On these days, I’ve been trying to stop and ask myself, what does it look like to really listen when they’re talking?  To look into their eyes and make sure they know I’m paying attention?  As I was working at my computer typing this, my daughter came over to tell me about a certain toy she had seen on TV that she really wanted.  I stopped and turned away from my laptop and looked into her eyes.  I noticed how cute she was when she said, “And, Mom, it has these little sessesories…” (accessories).  The look in her eyes when she talked was just so sweet and sincere.  I would have missed that if I acknowledged her but never actually looked up from what I was doing.  My prayer is that I remember to “listen” to them more often than not.

Besides feeling more present, staying positive has also led to less yelling in my house.  I don’t think any parent feels great about yelling at their kids, but we all do it from time to time.  The scenario is fairly predictable – I can feel the frustration brewing in me, which is usually a good indicator of the downward spiral that is to follow.  I have now learned it is up to me to move quickly and turn it around.

One day last week, I could feel the tension – things were heading downhill fast.  I did NOT want to yell at them…so I pulled something out of my head, the only thing I could think of in that moment.  I told them I had an idea: we should name the gnat that was flying around our house.  They totally went with it and we made a game out of following him around, asking him if he’s lost or if he misses his family.  It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it really lightened the mood and changed my attitude.  Seeing their curious faces and how sensitive they were to their new little friend softened me and brought me back to that present, grateful mindset.

Thank you, Lord, for those moments where things turn around to ‘happy’ again.  I’m seeing more and more of those lately, and I know it is all about mindset and ‘willing’ things to be different.

In the midst of this change that’s happening inside of me, I find myself clinging to a vision a dear friend had for me at a recent prayer night:  she saw a picture of a black butterfly while praying over me.  In other cultures, a black butterfly represents growth and change as a butterfly leaves the safety of its cocoon to discover the world.  It is also symbolic of rebirth, renewal and a resulting freedom.

I know I am that butterfly, attempting to transition gracefully.

This is not just God transforming me.  This is also me transforming me.  This is me not complaining when things are stressful or don’t go my way.  This is me redirecting my thoughts to prayer or thankfulness when I feel those anxious, familiar thoughts.  I realize the direction is clearly from God, but it is up to me to put a stop to the perpetual cycle.  No one but me can do that.  No one else can intervene with the internal struggle that takes place inside my head.

Thinking of my friend’s vision, I asked God in prayer (just to be sure, I guess), am I in that transition you’re asking of me?  Am I that butterfly learning a new way, in order to take flight?  And am I doing it gracefully?  I see a softening in myself and new ways of thinking emerging, so it seems that I am.  In my prayer, I asked for signs of butterflies to show me I’m on my way.  And like clockwork, I got three in the matter of hours.  The third and final one was at the front of a fabric store I walked into.  Black butterflies and all.

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Acknowledging His signs, I thanked Him silently for answering my question.  Am I in the midst of transforming?

Yes.  I surely am.




3 thoughts on “The Pursuit of Happiness

  1. That’s amazing Monica, I am so proud of the woman you have become!
    Love you and miss you,
    Aunt Chris

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