Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't Base Your Happiness on Other People's Mood

I'm often guilty of feeling responsible for my family's overall happiness or mood. Which can be a good motivator at times. I mean, my family is often happier when I can be lighthearted and silly with them, when I plan fun things into our week, and when I make a point to try to take time for myself so that I can be energetic and not drained when we're together. So, feeling responsible for the overall mood of my family can sometimes inspire me to take good actions.

But sometimes, regardless of how lighthearted and silly I am, or whether we've had fun times together, my daughter's mood can be a little sour. She's a kid, for goodness sake. She can't always be in a cheerful mood. As Flannery O'Conner says, "Kids have the weight of the world on their shoulders." Really, it's tough to do what people say all the time, and to have to follow what seem like arbitrary rules, and to have to eat stuff you don't like just because mom says, and to have to share your toys all the time.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that my child's mood should not dictate my own. She has no responsibility to be happy so I'll be happy. And it's unfair to expect anyone to be happy or cheerful all the time. We all have negative emotions, and it takes a long time to learn how to deal with those emotions. It's funny, it seems so natural to separate ourselves from a colleague, a family member, or a spouse who's had a bad day and is in a bad mood. We can chalk it up to stress or a tight deadline or something unrelated to ourselves. But when it's my daughter, I have a much harder time separating myself from her moods, from feeling responsible for them even. Which is just silly.

Anyway, I'm working on it. If you notice me all exasperated at Target with a grumpy kid in tow one day, remind me that I'm working on it!

I thought it was neat that I was able to capture a few of Flanna's different moods in these pictures of our museum trip yesterday. I especially love the deep thinking photo of her above!

Do you find yourself feeling responsible for your family members' moods? Or stressing over other things you can't really control?

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