Happy moments to soothe the sleep-deprived mama

This morning, I slept until 7am. I did not get up early to swim or to spin or to run or to yoga. In my dreams, I would get up early five mornings a week, but in reality, four seems to max out my energy reserves. Yesterday evening, post-dishes, I sat down with Fooey to look through a book of baby photos (good grief, I had cute babies!), and when we were done the couch’s pillow looked like it wanted my head to rest upon it, and quick as a wink, I’d dozed off while Fooey and CJ played a game that involved using the angles of my legs and arms as rooms in an imaginary house. Clearly, the game did not disturb my sleep because I didn’t hear Kevin return from dropping Albus at piano lessons, nor did I hear him leaving again to pick Albus up, and therefore assumed I’d been “in charge” of the children all that time. I also assumed that I’d done a good job of supervising them, while asleep. Only to realize that any supervision had happened in dreamland. Sometimes when I’m asleep, I feel awake. And vice versa.

Long story. Very little point.

Today, a couple of things that are making me happy.

1. Albus at supper last night: “Guess what I got on that social studies test?” Me: “Was that the one in French?” “Yes. Guess what I got?” “The one on governments?” “I got an A!” Maybe he didn’t add the exclamation point. The kid prefers announcements by stealth, gotcha announcements. But it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal because usually he doesn’t seem to care, much. What makes me happiest about this result is not the mark, exactly, but the mark’s accurate reflection of his interest in the subject. He was the only one in the house truly excited about the recent provincial election results, and we let him stay up late to watch the polls report. We don’t often see our eldest get excited about things (aside from Lego, food, and high scores on wii games). And you want your kids to get excited about things. It means they care. It means they’re expressing themselves, exploring their own interests, developing unique passions and making connections.

2. Piano. Oh my goodness, but the piano playing is making me happy. Real music is being made in our living-room, people! This year, we implemented a reward system of stickers which has been enormously motivating (at least for those kids who need an extra boost of motivation; I note that though AppleApple practices almost as frequently as her siblings, she has far fewer stickers, because she forgets to add them. Obviously, for her the reward is as much the playing as the getting of something afterward.) But on that note, I’m beginning to suspect that the others, though outwardly motivated by stickers, are by stealth discovering and reaping the reward of regular practice, which is that YOU CAN PLAY MUSIC! I love this. I can’t even express how much I love it.

3. Participation. I also love seeing my kids volunteer and sign up and participate and try things out and expand their fields of vision and experience. Albus just signed up to play volleyball; practices are before school, so he’ll have to get up early on Tuesdays. AppleApple, of her own initiative, created an organizer to keep track of her daily tasks. She is notoriously distractable and understands that her life would run more smoothly if she weren’t always scrambling last-minute (or forgetting important items and events entirely.) And Fooey, who has long been my least-active child, who would take a stroller ride over walking right up until the end of kindergarten (ie. this past June), has suddenly burst forth as a very active soul: she started Highland dance classes, which involve a ton of jumping around (I’ve tried to follow her steps!), she walks to and from school on her own feet every day (more than a kilometre each way), and when we asked whether she’d like to try indoor soccer this fall, she immediately said Yes! And surprised all of us over Thanksgiving by wanting nothing more than to go outside and practice kicking the ball. Watching these personalities develop independently is downright thrilling. There’s probably no greater joy in parenthood.

4. Rest time. AppleApple especially has expressed a need for quiet time. She loves lying on the couch and reading a book for hours on end. So, we’ve been emphasizing that. Even on days when she has an activity, like piano yesterday, she can come right home afterward and flop on the couch with a book. For Albus, his down-time happy-time involves friends. He checks in every morning to ask, “Is today a friend day?”

We all love friend days. And as I write down these thoughts, I think, wow, everything on that list makes me happy, too, not just as a parent watching my kids do these things, but as a person doing these things. I’m happiest when I’m digging into activities and subjects that interest me, when I’m practicing regularly (could be writing, could be photography, could be yoga), when I’m widening my field of vision or trying new things or simply signing up and showing up, and when I get ample rest time, time to veg, time with friends, time to allow the brain to be fallow, and quiet, time to absorb experiences.

So that’s my question for today (don’t worry, I won’t always have a question of the day; sounds too much like homework): What makes you happy?

Recipe by request: honey-baked lentils
On the work of the cricket (file under: morning-nap thoughts)

10 Comments

  1. Carrie, this post makes ME happy too, and these aren’t even my kids! But I can totally relate to the thrills you describe. To see our kids excited, engaged, actively participating in the world around them….

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  2. Thank you, Kristen. Honestly, there’s nothing better. It’s reason number one that I don’t mind my kids growing up and not being those adorable little babies anymore.

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  3. When my kids are happy and engaged, I am happy.

    I am happy (although tired) that I am fitting in more exercise. I feel great both mentally and physically.

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  4. Exercise is such a boost, isn’t it, Tricia! Mentally as much as physically, I find.

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  5. I loved reading this and the total individuality that each child is expressing in what interests them. Wonderful! thanks for the smile, Carrie.

    Reply
  6. Honouring each individual child. That’s what I hope to do, always. Thanks, hon.
    ps I’m looking forward to seeing your ipowr blog come to life!

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  7. gah! LOL I keep forgetting that is the one that shows up if I’ve signed into my gmail email account. when I sign out and sign into my hotmail for my current blog, then i show up correctly. I actually don’t want people to go to ipowr until there is something to VISIT ROFL! i keep forgetting. i have to de-activate it until i’ve begun it – thanks for giving me heads up! (I thought i was commenting from my b in subtle blog and signed back in and out. anyhow – great post – i’ll write you privately about photo stuff…

    Reply
  8. Things that make me happy: singing in a group; when my kids play quietly, creatively and cooperatively (all at the same time!) together; going downhill on my road bike at 50 km/h; seeing my kids become their own, independent people; a drink (or several) with my friends; a quiet afternoon with a cup of coffee and some compelling knitting; getting it all done.

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  9. I second all of these, Nath, except for the knitting, which I can’t do, and getting it all done… because that never seems to happen.

    Hope to have a drink with you at poetry club tonight!

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  10. I didn’t say it happens often! But it makes me very happy on those rare occasions when I make it to the end of the day and I got everything done that I set out to do. Admittedly, I sometimes set the bar pretty low…

    See you tonight!

    Reply

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