Ode to Joy

In the early years of mommyhood, it was hard to go with the flow. I didn’t know how to be a mom, I didn’t feel confident that I would be a very good one, and I felt pretty sad that I was somehow failing at something that was supposed to feel natural, beautiful, and joyful.

My lack of confidence was a hindrance. It was keeping me from becoming the mother I want to be, and it was keeping me from experiencing joy. Nowadays, I put less pressure on myself. I tell myself I’m a great mom because thinking otherwise doesn’t accomplish anything. I make mistakes, I cry, I foul up, I apologize. I live and breathe and take it all in as par for the course. I tell myself that if I’m trying too hard to be perfect, that is all my children will learn: to strive for something that is not only impossible but damaging.

So I’ve made some new goals.

My goal for each day is to find joy.

My goal for each day is to say to my children, “This is so joyful! This is so fun!” as we walk through daily life.

And we celebrate little pieces of joy all day long.

This week, the last of the leaves from our trees. My husband has just “finished” a huge rake job and then more came along. When I saw the yard, I imagined our weekend plans (getting out to the Brandywine River Museum!) quickly thwarted by a new need for leaf clean-up. (Gotta get those leaves before everything freezes and we kill the grass! Aye-ya-yay!)

Until I remembered the leaf blower…

I’m not sure why we never thought to purchase a leaf blower before. We have plenty of trees and more leaves than I can rake by myself. My dad finally bought us a Toro last year, and he was quickly overcome with joy over it’s blowing power, so he purchased himself a matching one. Needless to say, you can imagine the level of adorable that unfolded in my yard when father and daughter had matching blowers as we dominated the landscape.

Then it got packed away and I kind of forgot about it, since I thought the leaves were finished for the season.

When I remembered that we had one and where it was, another real benefit of the leaf blower became visible:

Leaf blowing is a quick route to joy and fun.

Fun is pretty incredible but I’ve always thought it’s hard to get things done with too much fun. It sounds terrible! I know! But I can hear myself saying, “No! We’ve got to get this done!” and then I’m stressing out because I’m not trying hard enough to accomplish any given task.

I’ve needed to loosen up on this idea and tell myself that the stuff on my “To Do” list isn’t going to get done until my kids are at least six. Or maybe seven. Or maybe thirteen. Or at least until child labor is considered legal (does that start at fourteen?)

All this is to say that this week when I tried to blow leaves around, we quickly reverted to just having fun. My son found an old eagles hat of mine: one of those ridiculous ski hats with the dreadlocks made out of felt and a big old Philadelphia Eagle on the front. LM1 had never seen the hat before and decided it could behave like a pair of earmuffs, which he likes to use to block out the sound of the leaf blower. In his mind, thick dreads = noise canceling (a fair assumption, I’d say).

He put the hat on and discovered that what was actually way more fun than blowing leaves was standing in front of the blower and swinging the locks in front of the nozzle so the felt dreads and the leaves would fly into his face and tickle him.

It was hilarious.

It was joyful.

It was fun.

And I can’t remember the last time I did something so merrily just because it felt good. So, here’s to joy. Here’s to getting less and less done, but feeling more joy in the process. Here’s to a messy yard and a smiling kid.

And a smiling mommy….

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