Friday, July 12, 2013

What is Joy?

With three children and a business to tend to, I find myself slipping into “functioning mom” mode pretty often. I’m usually so busy doing what needs to get done - supervising all the kids’ activities, cooking, cleaning, solving problems, big and small – that, at the end of the day, I’m often left wondering, “Where did the time go?” And, sometimes, during the late hours after everyone else has gone to bed, I feel totally depleted, like I have nothing left to give. 

That is very hard for me to admit to.

Do I love my children more than life itself? Absolutely. No question about it. I truly adore the day-to-day life of being a mom. Even the mundane parts, like reminding the kids to pick up after themselves or brush their teeth. And I cherish every moment of this fleeting time with my precious ones, because I know that, in what will seem like the blink of an eye, they will be grown and have lives independent of me.

That’s why I cringe with surprised disappointment when that little voice whispers to me every once in a while, “What about me?”

And then this happens:

In an instant, all of my doubts and questions vanish into thin air. I am reminded, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the highest calling I can answer in this life is to be the best mom I can be to Annie, Jayden and Nicholas.

Does this mean that my needs and aspirations need to be cast aside? I don’t think so. I am sure that there is a happy medium. I have to remind myself that it’s ok to take some time on my own to design a quilt, or do some laps in the pool, or meet a friend for lunch. 

Though it will not happen on a daily basis, these “me times” will recharge my own soul and I will certainly have more to give to my children and to my business.

So, coming back to the question, “What is joy?” 

I suspect it has a lot to do with the way my breath catches in my throat when I see my daughter’s hard work bring her such great rewards. Or how my heart swells with pride when I catch Nicholas patiently teaching his little brother how to do “big boy” things.

Annie stretches before the audition.
I guess that for me, joy and love are inseparable. When I give love and receive it in return, I fill myself with the wonder and thankfulness that makes everything in my life more meaningful, more worthy of attention, more real. And joy is the cushion that I think we all need to ride out the bumps in the road that are a certain part of life.

The thing I am sure of is this - joy cannot be contained within one person. It radiates out to everyone in the vicinity. 

You are touched by joy just by being near it.

So, I declare now that I am going to look for opportunities to invite joy into my life, every single day. Because the best thing I can do for the people I love is to fill myself with so much joy that it surrounds us all in its warmth and light and lifts us up to reach for heights we haven’t even begun to dream of.