Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Summer Book Club // Chapter No. 4

Hi girls! Happy Wednesday! While I'm a dog mom, I didn't feel really authorized to lead the discussion of this chapter on parenting. So I turned to my friend Wendy who has been a previous contributor, and has been reading and sharing her comments weekly.  But don't get me wrong -- I have plenty to say -- I'll just be in the comments section. Wendy, take it away!

"Lighten Up"

April: Parenthood

  • Sing in the morning.
  • Acknowledge the reality of people's feelings.
  • Be a treasure house of happy memories.
  • Take time for projects.

Wow.  I feel like I could have written some of this chapter, particularly her thoughts about fog happiness and the line, "I was so focused on checking off the items on my to-do list that I forgot what really mattered".  Needless to say, I very much related to this chapter, appreciated its honestly, and am thankful for the great reminders of how to make the happiness of parenting less elusive.

Sing in the morning:  Since my boys immediately plead with me to "stop singing" when I try, I don't think I'm going to bust into song at breakfast.  However, lightening things up in the morning is magical; the routine is smoother and everyone leaves the house happy when the tone changes from rushed and anxious to fun and joyful.  We probably all move a little faster when we are happier, too, which really gives me no excuse but to adjust my morning attitude as a rule, not a rare exception.  I suppose summer is the perfect time to develop this habit, since we are generally more relaxed.  How great would it be to have this ingrained by the time school starts again and things get crazy?  It's on the list!

Acknowledge the reality of other's feelings:  Yep, it works.  But, wow, is it hard to do sometimes.  I have a very short fuse when it comes to what I think are irrational feelings or unnecessary and over-the-top displays of emotion.  When things are calm I can readily practice this, but my biggest challenge is to remember this when things are harried.  I am certain the small investment in time to be more sensitive will reap great benefits, but I'd love some tips on remembering to practice this in the heat of the moment.

Be a treasure house of happy memories:  I love the notion that "recalling happy times helps boost happiness in the present".  My boys have recently discovered their baby books.  I can see that it makes them happy to see evidence of our joy over their arrival and earliest days, and it makes me smile to explain all of the little goodies I've saved.  On another note, it also raised the question of why my younger son's baby book is thinner than his brother's.  Oops!  On another note, we sometimes have spontaneous "dance parties" in our kitchen, and even our dog gets in on the action.  Nothing lightens the mood faster than a family of four, plus a Golden Retriever, boogying amidst half-eaten meals.

Take time for projects:  I am historically bad at this.  Projects, particularly the fun and artsy ones, go against every bit of type-A-ness in me; they are messy, inefficient, and create more "stuff" to dust/ store/ deal with.  However, just last week I had a "project break-through" and it was pretty amazing.  We made a potted herb garden, complete with painted Popsicle stick herb markers, for the boys' sitter.  It was so much fun, everyone got into it, and we were all very proud of the finished product.  It made an otherwise boring summer morning into a very happy experience with no fighting and fun memories.  Now I get it; "take time for projects" is my new summer mantra.  I'm culling Pinterest for great ideas, so please pass some good (and not too messy?) ones along!

This chapter was such a great reminder of how to help lift the fog from the great privilege and joys of parenting.  It also reminded me to savor the times when the happiness just hits you like a 2x4, like early this morning; I spent a long weekend in Boston and returned home about 1:30am to my dog-child who about wiggled out of her skin she was so happy to see me, my six-year old who threw his arms around me and hugged me tight while still sleeping, and my eight-year who old bounded into our room this morning and snuggled with me far longer than usual.  With a welcome home like that, how can I possibly not lighten up and enjoy everything to its fullness?  A little perspective does wonders!

I am so very happy you initiated this book club, Denise; you provided me the impetus to finally dive into this book, and I am so enjoying reading it and exploring it with our and your readers.  Thank you, thank you!

It's me, Denise, again!  I can't wait to hear what you all have to say. Please please share!  Your comments are what make this book club and discussion meaningful. And P.S. Is there an upcoming chapter you want to lead? I'd love to have you lead a discussion. P.P.S. Don't forget, MJ is dedicating her blog to happiness this summer -- check it out here.

{Photo found here, photographer unknown}.


  1. Singing in the morning - I don't always SING in the morning but this past year I have tried hard to make sure that we all get out the door after a reasonably pleasant and relaxing breakfast. If we're all happy and fed and watered when we leave it makes for SUCH a nicer day.

    Things can get so hectic - and it's all too easy to get reduced to a to do list, right?

    Denise, I'll grab a chapter. Lemme take a look at the remaining ones or do you have an idea?

  2. Not much of a singer but I still do that even now. Kids hate my singing but hey, that's me.

  3. I have not been keeping up, but I am enjoying your perspectives on the book. I may just read this chapter and see what I think. This summer is all kids all the time with both of them at home. I fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day! Today, we went to a bounce place, played with Legos at the Library, and had friends over. We still have a birthday party to attend this evening. I would rather be busy and have fun than sit around the house.

    1. So glad you commented! I think falling into bed exhausted at the end of the day is the sign of a good day ... unless of course you have to wake up early and are worried you aren't getting it all done. But it sounds like you are having a fun summer :)

  4. I'm late to the party here with my comment but reading this chapter made me excited -- and terrified! -- to become a parent. There's so much to think about and always consider! I think the part about singing in the morning is something I'd really like to try to do, metaphorically at least. It seems like kids really look to their parents to set the tone, and I think if I can try to be happy (no matter how stressed am) then I'll be off to a good start. And I like to think that I'll be all about the projects! In fact, I think this is why I want to be a parent -- I can't wait to stage plays and make things. Just for our family. I think that sounds delightful. The part about acknowledging feelings -- adults need to do this! I don't know how you parents do it -- there's so much to consider and learn and know. Oy! :)