Author Arlene Pellicane describes the average mom’s frenzied day like this: “We wake up, and we’re Mary Poppins. ‘Let’s do this thing!’ we say. But by the time we go to bed, we’re Cruella de Vil.”
A lot of moms might describe themselves with words like “busy,” “stressed,” or “tired.”
One word you don’t often hear from moms is “happy.” Maybe that’s because, by and large, mothers have settled into the notion that busyness, work, and falling into bed exhausted are “just the way it is.”
Arlene’s discovery of what a happy mom is began with a personal encounter that illustrated to her what a happy mom isn’t.
While out shopping, Arlene noticed a mother who shuffled up and down the aisles with little children underfoot. Arlene could tell the mom was struggling to keep them all corralled. Then, without warning, the 6-year-old ran up to Arlene and kicked her right in the shins.
The mom was apologetic but, later, when Arlene saw her in one of the checkout lines, she was still struggling with the boy and crying.
That incident got Arlene wondering: What mom – most of whom are pulled in too many directions at once – faces the daily challenges of motherhood and thinks, “This is everything I hoped for. I’m so happy.”
What does a happy mom look like anyway?
She isn’t a woman who lives in luxury or whose life is without difficulty. She’s not the mom who gets a spa treatment every Saturday … although that could probably help. And it’s not the woman running up debt on her credit card for new outfits she can’t afford, so she can impress other people.
The Bible tells us happiness is found in seeking the Lord – that includes moms, of course. There is tremendous power when a mom asks, “God, how can I glorify You in motherhood?” When that prayer reflects the desire of her heart, it will become the thrust of her life and the motive for all she does.
And joy will be the result.
Arlene offers an acronym to help moms remember the ingredients for genuine happiness. Each letter in the word “happy” stands for one part of that recipe.
H is for healthy. It’s important for moms to be healthy – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and in their relationship with their husbands and children. It’s like the oxygen masks in an airplane. You take care of yourself first, so you’re able to care for others.
A is for being “action oriented.” Happy moms let their actions speak louder than their words. They have to follow through when they say, “Do this,” or “don’t do that, and this is the consequence.” You cannot reason with a 2-, 3-, 4- or 5-year-old. Even teenagers understand action. That could mean no videogames, no TV, no smartphone, or no friends.
P is for “prayerful.” Instead of calling on God, moms often seek answers elsewhere. Google can certainly provide moms with a wealth of helpful and practical answers (and I think you’ll find a lot of the information you’re looking for right here at Focus on the Family), but it can become an unhealthy substitute for seeking the Lord.
The second P is “perseverance.” Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re not raising a child; you’re raising an adult. Understanding that will help you dig in and persevere when things get tough because you’re thinking long term.
Finally, Y means striving to be a “yes” mom. It’s okay for moms to have hobbies and interests outside of their children. Of course your children need you, but you need refreshment, too. Think of the things that really give you energy, that you love, and do them. Those activities could be with or without your kids.
Another yes is the yes to service. Look for activities that encourage your family to focus their attention outward onto others. Even a simple idea can help put another layer in your life that brings joy.
And let me add another one. I’d say think of S for “slow down.” As someone once told me, “If you have children, don’t blink.” One day you’re celebrating their fifth birthday and the next you’re watching them graduate from high school. The heart of that sentiment is captured powerfully by Nichole Nordeman in her song Slow Down. Take a listen.
On our program today, we’ll be joined by author and popular guest Arlene Pellicane to discuss how moms can deepen their sense of authentic happiness.