It’s Not My Job to Make My Kids Happy

I lived many years with the thought that my true destiny as a mother is to make my kids happy.

When they were small, they were happy with the obvious – cuddles, smiles, milk on demand, fresh diapers.
As they grew bigger, however, they could become really unhappy, really fast for mysterious apparent reasons:

  • one of them was holding the one yellow block that was more special than the other 20 yellow blocks waiting on the floor. The other two really wanted the better yellow block. Tears.
  • the dress one of them chose wasn’t long enough as to brush the floor like the unmentionable princess with a blue dress. Tears.
  • the cereal wasn’t crunchy enough, or the watermelon had “hairs.” Tears.

While I was holding one trying to comfort, the other one would start a brand new shit-storm and then somehow I would end up with at least two, if not three crying kids at the same time.

My arms grew longer, my lap wider and my heart smaller. Why weren’t my kids happier? Why couldn’t I make them happy? Magically make more special blue blocks, provide only floor length gowns and ensure perfect crunchiness?

As I was spending precious and limited brain cells thinking about this, I had an epiphany:

My kids have a safe, loving home. They have access to healthy, fresh food. I am on the floor playing with them every day. I read to them every night. I hold them when they cry.

Damn it! I AM A GOOD MOM!!!!

It’s not me; it’s them!

Compared to my childhood, what they have is utopia.

And that’s when I realized what went wrong: Comparison.

I was feeling like a failure because of my own self-imposed expectations.

I should know better by now, but I don’t. Clearly.

So I am rewriting the job description. Kids, your mama is changing! Scratch that, I am freakin’ evolving ‘round here!!!

  • It is not my job to solve a conflict, but it is my job to supervise power struggle and not permit helplessness or violence to take place.
  • It is not my job to make my kids happy, but it is my job to help them develop the skills to make themselves happy.
  • It is not my job to keep them crisis-free, tear-free and meltdown-free, but it is my job to allow them to express these feelings in a respectful manner for all involved.
  • It is not my job to entertain them, but it is my job to provide a clutter-free environment in which they can entertain themselves.
  • It is not my job to participate in every single game they create, but it is my job to be a supportive audience for their games when they ask me to.
  • It is not my job to control HOW MUCH they eat or drink, but it is my job to make the best decision in regards to WHAT they eat or drink.
  • It is not my job to put them to sleep or guard them to stay asleep, but it is my job to help them learn good sleeping habits.

I’m printing this and sticking it on the fridge. Did you get that memo kids?


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It is not my job to make my kids happy, but it is my job to help them develop the skills to make themselves happy.

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