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If You're Happy and You Know It

Right now, my kids’ moments of sadness are usually fleeting and cured with a tight hug, a corny joke or even a little treat. Knowing this won’t last forever makes me ache.

I consider myself to be a pretty even tempered person. I know what makes me happy and I know that if I’m in a funk, I’ll eventually snap out of it. But as my kids grow, and I grow as a mom, I’m learning that my mood seems to rise and fall with the happiness and achievements of my children.   

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and the trigger is potty training.  Just like childbirth itself, I seemed to have forgotten (or successfully blocked out) the gory details from the first time around. I know, I know -- my daughter won’t wear diapers to college, but she just might be wearing them to day camp this summer, where she is expected to be potty trained.    

Each day is now a new, oftentimes messy adventure. And with each successful trip to the bathroom (see me for a recent list of the best and worst around town), I am feeling good. I’m proud of my little toddler and love to see her be so proud of herself.

More often than not, though, it’s a struggle.  My daughter recovers quickly from an “oops.” She gets cleaned up and runs back to play. I’m left feeling defeated, overwhelmed, and as though there is a scoreboard in my house -- like I’m losing. 

I’m fortunate enough to be able to stand in the parking lot of my daughter’s preschool commiserating with other moms going through the exact same thing. I also find comfort when talking to moms with older kids, and I realize this mix of complicated emotions is only the beginning.

My mom has told me countless times before that a mother is only as happy as her saddest child. Right now, my kids’ moments of sadness are usually fleeting and cured with a tight hug, a corny joke or even a little treat. Knowing this won’t last forever makes me ache.

Conversely, the intensity of the feelings I have on their really good days are thrilling beyond anything I ever imagined.  And when I think about what they will be like when they are older, my heart soars thinking about the possibilities. 

For many weeks I’ve been trying to tell myself that potty training is about my daughter, and not about me.  I realize now that is really only partly true.  My connection to my children is beyond measure and truthfully, beyond words.   Just like with so many other major milestones that will come her way, my daughter needs her family--her team--to be behind and with her every step of the way. 

Patti Shapiro February 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Another great article! Your insight on being a Mom is fantastic. You put into words what so many are thinking. And you do it with humor and heart.

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