How I became “This Happy Mom” (Part 1)

how i became this happy momThis is part 1 of my story of how I became “This Happy Mom.”  It’s too long for a single post, so I thought I’d share my story in installments.

I can point to the calendar and tell you the day I decided to become “This Happy Mom.”

It was Monday, December 5th 2011.  It was not a good day.

I was in a hotel room with the drapes closed, crying.  We were in our 7th month of remodeling our home, and we weren’t going to be home for Christmas.

On November 1st, they had promised

we’ll have you home by Thanksgiving.

The week of Thanksgiving, they promised

home for Christmas, we think.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, they gently suggested we make travel plans for Christmas.

My mom had just moved from my childhood home, further intensifying my feelings of homelessness.

My home had electricity (barely) but no plumbing.  I also had no sheetrock, no insulation, no cabinets or counters, and a LOT of trash inside.

In honesty, I spent the first week after Thanksgiving in bed, hiding in a dark room.

I felt uprooted, cheated, angry, and depressed.  I was certain that Christmas was ruined.

Looking on Facebook at all the photos of my friends’ beautifully decorated homes made things worse.   Hanging out on Pinterest only reminded me of all the food I couldn’t cook, all the crafts I couldn’t do, and all the decorating that would never be.

I was in the pits… the big giant stinky dark pits.

I was in the drag-my-hind-end-out-of-bed-in-time-for-carpool pit, and I was settling in for a long-term pity party of pit-dom. Pity pit pit pit.  pit.

God had other plans.

If the conversation was made into a movie with God speaking in a big booming narrator voice, the conversation would have gone something like this:

God:  What are you doing in bed at noon?

Me:  Why bother getting up?  Christmas is ruined!  Everything is ruined!  I’m never having a home again!  My life is ruined!

(don’t you just love the drama? but that really is how i was talking to God at the time.)

God:  Christmas is only ruined if you let it be.

Me:  Huh?  I can’t cook a turkey here.  This hotel room would look ridiculous with a Christmas tree in it.  All my decorations are in storage.  There’s no chimney for Santa or stockings.

(that wan’t what i wanted to hear from God, obviously.  i wanted pity and compassion.  well, actually, i wanted him to go smite my contractors.)

God:  That didn’t matter when you went to Disney for Christmas.  Why does it matter now?

Me:  But this is different!  I’m in a hotel room… for Christmas.

God:  And at Disney you stayed at a…

(argh!  i hate logic!  why can’t i be irrational and emotional?  why do we have to bring logic into this?)

Me: (mumbing) hotel.  But…

(that was a painful admission.  but it was so healing. it totally reframed my circumstances.  but i still didn’t like it.)

God:  What is Christmas about?

Me:  (mumbling) you.  And maybe about family… please?

(ok, go ahead an picture your 2 year old standing on the carpet after a scolding.  the pose where she looks down at the floor rather than meet your gaze, and she has one giant tear running down her cheek silently.  that was me.)

God:  Listening?

Me:  yes.

(i wasn’t sure what He was going to say, but at least i was listening.)

God:  Your kids will have the kind of Christmas that you choose for them to have.

That was pretty much it.  I argued.  I whined.  I placed my case before the Lord.

You know all those scriptures about how horrible it is to have a contentious wife?  Um, they didn’t feel good.  They didn’t feel good because they were TRUE.   They were convicting.  They were gut wrenching.  And they were the exact medicine I needed.

By the time I picked the kids up from school that day, I had come to a serious and startling understanding.

I knew that the old saying was true.  “When Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”  

I knew it was true because I saw the impact of my own unhappiness on the lives of my children.

disco christmas treeI decided to see if the corollary was true. “When Momma’s Happy, then EVERYBODY is Happy.”  

I did not (and do not) mean it in the unhealthy sense where I assume total responsibility and ownership for the happiness of others. (I don’t “do” codependence… much… anymore).

I meant (and mean) simply that when I am happy and content with my life, that happiness flows into my home and into the lives of my family.  Happiness is contagious, and I decided to be a carrier.

I probably mean “JOY” (a fruit of the spirit) instead of happiness, but that’s not part of this story.

I wasn’t “feeling happy” yet, but I decided to at least fake it. (can you fake happiness?)

I rationalized that it wasn’t exactly lying if I was willing to admit that I was faking.  If my kids asked if I was happy, I was prepared to tell them I was trying to be happy.

I decided to start with a dollar store shop-a-rama.

When I picked the kids up from school, I took them to the dollar store and let them pick out whatever they wanted for Christmas decorations, including the hideous white-gligger tabletop tree and two separate types of chasing twinkle lights.  They were delighted and filled with joy.

I let them decorate the tree on their own.

I thought it was the ugliest thing I had ever seen, particularly compared to my friends’ Pinterest worthy decorations.

My kids were in the middle of a “gold” fascination, and the tree looked like a mag-pie’s dream.  It was covered (on one side) with huge gold-ish ornaments that were out of proportion to the tree.  The top of the tree sported a foot high gold sparkle light-up star that made the tree lean to one side.

When we turned the lights on, the room lit up like a disco.

So did my kids faces.

So did mine.

My husband came home after the kids were asleep.  They were both sleeping on the sleeper sofa, bathed in the not-so-gentle glow of the disco Christmas tree.

When I told him about my day, he just smiled and said  (like it was no big secret)

Happy wife, happy life.

God was teaching me that happiness is (at least for me) a choice.

Part two of my saga of becoming This Happy Mom is about love and laughter.

Two notes about the Christmas tree

(the one featured in the photo for this post):

  1. When I look at the pictures of it now, it’s not nearly as ugly as I thought it was.  But I did throw all that stuff away as soon as I could.  It wasn’t a memory I wanted to hold onto.
  2. Our regular hotel maid told me it seeing that tree every day made her happy, it was the only touch of Christmas in the whole building.  I’m humbled by that memory.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Houston Mom Blogger Susan Baker has a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood. She has two elementary school boys, one engineering husband, and one cat. She has a strange fascination  for eggs, socks, and books.  She spends far too much time on Social Media and at Target. [/author_info] [/author]

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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  1. Your story reminds of the book of Job. I hope I don’t have the same experiences when we do our remodeling later this year.
    Stan recently posted..2012 White House Christmas Ornaments – a FundraiserMy Profile

  2. Susan I love this story! I’m so glad I have had good company int eh pit of despair and the tantrum-throwing! I found you through Simply Helping Him– so glad to meet you!
    Melinda (Auntie Em) recently posted..An Explosive CombinationMy Profile

    • Melinda, you are not alone. This story has about 4 parts so far, and I have a few more chapters to post. It’s tough to write, but I really believe that it needs to be shared. It’s scary in the pit and we moms need to know we aren’t alone!

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