My daughter and I were out walking the other day. She turns to me and says:

“I have something important to talk about”

And I turn to her and say:

“So do I.” I wait a second to have her attention:

“Why do you not put the toilet paper on correctly?”

She looks at me quizzically and says:

“Is all the work I put into schoolwork really that important? Is the effort worth it in the end?”

I know. I know. Only one of these is truly an important conversation, and should be concentrated on. So I said:

“Really- the toilet paper…

No seriously. My daughter appeared to be having a crisis of faith. She worked very hard first semester on her grades. She joined clubs, took on leadership positions and volunteered. She went to parties and social things and lectures given by famous people. But she couldn’t help but wonder- is all this worth it? Is it making her happy?

There you go. That word again. Happy. And I thought back to my blog post last month- is the worst parenting fail telling our kids that they should be happy…

“Well daughter…” I started “Last month I wrote about this topic sort of. I wrote that we shouldn’t tell our kids ‘I just want you to be happy’.”

She looked at me blankly- “But you’ve said that to me…”

” I was wrong” I replied.

Right there. I admitted to my daughter that I did her a big disservice by telling her that happiness was a goal. So you admit your mistake, and figure out how to fix it…

Me: Well-it all depends on your goal- what you really want. What happens if you don’t study?

Daughter: Well I won’t get good grades. And that won’t make me happy at all.

Me: You could drop an activity

Daughter: But I love everything I do. I chose the things that mean the most to me. These things make me happy

Me: So what do you think would be better for you to do? If you chose not to study, what would you do?

Blank stare.

Daughter. I don’t know. Maybe watch TV more? (She paused for a moment.) I guess, I know the things I do now will make me really happy in the future. I just wonder if all this planning is worth it.

Me: If you know you want certain things, a job which requires schooling, to live in an expensive area requires a decent paycheck, donating to causes you believe in requires disposable income…if these things are important to you, you need to prep, because even with preparation, none of these things are a given. But if you want a job that requires less education, willing to live in a less expensive city, then maybe you can change course. (I was just spinning things off the top of my head. I had no idea what to say to her.)

We walked in silence for a few moments.

Me: Happiness is 10% remembering the past, 25% prepping for the future, and the rest is experiencing the nowย (FYI- I have no idea how I ratted off these percentages- I told you- this was one of those Mom moments where you are just trying to explain the secrets to life and the universe to your child and you have absolutely no clue about any of it. talk about making stuff up that you might live to regret saying…)

Daughter: That makes sense. It’s all about balancing out your time. There are things you just need to do to make other things better.

(What- this is making sense? let me jump in here with an example)

Me: Exactly (exactly? I had no idea what I was talking about) It’s like laundry. You hate doing laundry in the moment, the sorting, the washing, the folding and putting away. But when it’s done and you have clean clothes that smell nice…totally worth it.

Daughter: Yeah. As long as I remember to do something a little fun when stuff is stressful, it all works out. Thanks Mom. You’re the best. Can we get gelato?

Me: Yup (wow- she really must be learning to look for hidden meaning in meaningless statements at college. But every penny of tuition is worth it if she can make sense of what I said- and btw, what did I say?????)

Me: Of course we can get gelato.

What was the point of all this?

  1. Parenting never ends
  2. Parents have absolutely no idea what to say to their kids 99% of the time
  3. Happiness is a concept that can’t be explained
  4. Happiness might require a little bit of planning
  5. Happiness is not 24/7/365
  6. Gelato solves everything

Obviously- we have a lot more to discuss about happiness…tune in tomorrow!!



64 thoughts on “Fessing Up

  1. Sometimes a child watching the life of the parent and being told or sharing stories is the best lesson maker on earth. Being able to share the life of my mom as she grew up taught me lessons that were better than reading about them in a book. Just living with someone daily and watching their reactions and work ethic is the best lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this – sometimes the stream of consciousness coming out of our mouths end up being wise advice. Random things I have told my kids have stuck with them as pearls of wisdom. I donโ€™t even remember saying it, but then again i can remember anything these days. Good job, Mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know I’m a huge LA fangirl, but to be perfectly honest, this might be my all time favorite of your posts!
    As parents, we don’t know wtf we’re doing! We’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to keep other humans alive! And when these delicious nuggets of truth happen (especially when you don’t even understand what’s happening) that’s when you know you’re on to something!
    She’s not learning how to pick meaning from your words at that spendy college. She has a lifetime of you being honest with her to cull from. The meaning is in your honesty. The meaning is in her honesty. Y’all instinctively understand each other because that’s just how it is! You built that from the moment you knew you were going to be a mom, and she helps build that now too!
    You feel like you pulled all that out if thin air. You didn’t. You pulled all that out of your heart, and out of her heart.
    She’s your kid, she needs to schedule in some fun to guarantee not becoming overwhelmed.
    That moment was a gift from the fates, and a gift you gave each other. Accept it with open and loving arms and remain grateful for it. โค
    Now about that toilet paper…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!! All you can do as a parent is hope youโ€™re teaching them the right lessons, the lessons that make them strong and resilient and kind. But yeah….we donโ€™t have a clue what weโ€™re doing most of the time. But yes…listen to your heart and let your head guide it a little!๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—๐Ÿ’—

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think most of your โ€œadviceโ€ was letting her think about the alternatives and make her own decision to continue on the current path.
    There are no guarantees that doing all of the โ€˜rightโ€™ things will lead to happiness, satisfaction, or contentment. But there is almost a guarantee that NOT doing them will lead to dissatisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always tell her…if you enter something you may not win, but I can guarantee that you wonโ€™t win if you donโ€™t enter! It should be about showing them the options, and letting them figure it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You give great advice and you’re always there for her. But you hit on something that is uber important as well. You fessed up to not having all the answers. I think it’s important for our kids to understand us as vulnerable, because that’s where determination comes in.

    I know people who present this image of perfection to their kids, and that doesn’t work. If your kids perceive you as above reproach, they might be less apt to seek your guidance when they need it. Being fallible creates accessibility, not because of the failure . . but because the failure led to success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thatโ€™s it. We need to make sure that our kids realize we hit bumps in the road, donโ€™t have all the answers and that weโ€™ve done stupid things. If they think weโ€™re perfect, then they worry why theyโ€™re not

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Parenting is hard. And never ending. They still call you up as thirty-year-old to ask you about a problem you have no idea how to fix. I always try to think of something even if I have to make it up. But also, I try to do what managed to do. You were both brainstorming and she figured out her own answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Haha I love this. Reminds me of so many of my mum/kid chats where I havenโ€™t got a clue what Iโ€™m saying. Somehow a chat with mum just makes it better though. Go you LA. Youโ€™re a fabulous mum. ๐Ÿ’—

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What a great mom you are! The thing I notice most reading this is SHE wants to do the extra activities. So many parents force the kids to do sports etc. and the kids really don’t want to. They push them into 3 or four activities all at once. Your daughter is making her own choice which automatically makes her happier! Nice job Mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You always make me smile. Yes, so know the feeling of wondering what I said. ๐Ÿ™‚ I want gelato now!
    Though Italy is where you will get the best gelato! But that would take a little longer to get too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yikes LA she suffered a crisis of confidence! Not to worry you were right on the money, hard work in education pays off in the end, good grades open more opportunities which hopefully means a better job, great money and then she can concentrate on seeking happiness. But tell her not forget to play hard, my one youtbull regret is not going to more parties, you know drink a little tooo much and perhaps more recreational sex. Tell her not to worry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes she did. She found out that three kids from her college had accidental deaths only months after graduating (Rick climbing and rafting I think) so she wondered if all the work they did was worth it. Those questions, choices are tough because who knows?

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is so good. I feel the same way when I’m talking to my adult daughter (she’s 28 and married). Our last big conversation was about how she’s terrified to bear children. I tried to calmly encourage her while on the inside I was already panicking about no grandchildren. Then I wrote her a letter to explain some of my babbling. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. “Happiness is not 24/7/365” is something I tell myself every day. The same way anger,sadness, joy, etc. are not 24/7/365 because they’re all fleeting emotions.

    I’ve also learned to just tell my girls, “I don’t know” sometimes.

    Liked by 1 person

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