Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where Happiness Goes.

Teacher Man and I took a rare opportunity Friday night.  Both boys went to bed on time.  The toys were picked up.  The kitchen was clean.  We sat and watched a movie, and both of us laughed like crazy (and, of course, I cried).  Is it possible for a pregnant woman to watch a movie and not cry?  Overall, we loved the message of the movie, but there was one line from a dad in the movie that's been eating at me.  As he was carrying his child in a baby carrier and pushing another child in a stroller, he told another man who was married without children that "This [meaning life with kids] is where happiness goes to die."

At first, I laughed.  Why?  Probably because some of the hardest moments in my life have come with raising my children.  Add to that the responsibility I feel to protect them, teach them, and love them well; and it just seems downright overwhelming.  I laughed at the actor's line because I'm sure in my own melodramatic way, I've thought something similar; but today it hit me.  It's not happiness that dies when your first child comes into the world.  It's selfishness.

One of my friends is an amazing mother to seven children.  I watch her and smile.  She just does life well.  One day I remember asking her how she's changed with the birth of each child, and she said with almost no hesitation, "With each child, I've become less selfish."  Can anyone out there relate?

Before my beautiful babies, happiness might be coffee for me, a date night for me, a cookie for me, extra sleep for me, a vacation for me.  Umm... are you noticing a pattern?  Now as I reflect on last week, my heart is full as I remember where happiness found its way into my life.  It was in a bowl of ice cream I shared with my boys that they didn't even ask for.  It was in an extra story read just because.  It was in saying "yes" to a tricycle ride and "no" to my agenda.  It was in staying up WAY past bedtime so that we could eat pizza, silly dance to oldies, and go swimming at the hotel pool.  It was watching my sons treat each other with respect and play nicely for the longest period ever.
Yep, selfishness may come here to die, but a new happiness has been born with each of my children.  It has little or nothing to do with me, and everything to do with having the privilege of loving them well and watching them learn to love others.  That's not to say that I'm not selfish... because I am.  I really am.  When I think about the birth of our daughter, I am already groaning that some of the things I claim as my own will be gone.  And I'm not even talking about her stealing my shoes one day.  I'm talking about quiet evenings where I choose my bedtime.  The ability to eat what I want and take medication when I get sick.  The ability to sleep uninterrupted.  The ability to have a shower every day and to be punctual.  Yep, selfishness is going to be dying a very painful death, but she is worth it.  Each of my children is completely worth it.  And I know God has used each of them in a different way to shave off more of me so that in me others will see more of Him.

That's what it's really all about, isn't it?  I haven't arrived.  And the day I start to feel smug will probably be the same day that the pregnancy test has two lines, reminding me that I'm not in control, that He is, and that there's a little more selfishness that needs to die because more happiness wants to live in my home.

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