The Truth About Joy

The other day I was out shopping with Bennett while Sterling was at Preschool. I'm still a pretty slow mover after being hit by a car, and it gives strangers lots of opportunities to stop us and love on Ben.

On this particular day, an elegant older lady stopped us several times, and each time she talked to Ben, her face glowed.

After her 5th or 6th stop, she confided that she had raised 5 boys of her own.

I laughed in amazement and asked her how she survived. She looked at me incredulously.

"Parenting is the great joy of life. We loved those boys as hard as we could and cherished it."

As she went on to share the successes of each one and how grateful she was to have a new generation to love, I was repeatedly struck at how frequently she used one critical word: joy.

And I realized two things from this exchange.

First, clearly home girl was more than just a recreational drug user.

But secondly, that parenting is an attitude. When I asked how she had survived, she easily could have rolled her eyes and lamented on the challenges and struggles. With 5 boys, I'm sure she had them.

And I don't doubt that part of her ecstasy over parenting was due to the fact that her kids were grown and she was romanticizing the past.

But I also think that she made an incredibly important point, that it's important to take moments to cherish the small stuff.

If you have kids, to slow down and admire their perfect little fingers and dimples and curlicues. That warm, delicious way the crease of their neck smells, their wonderfully sweet baby breath, their accomplishments, their scratches and bumps and scars.

To cherish and take joy in each of those little, tiny details that make your babies who they are. And to do it often.

And if you don't have kids, to turn that adoring eye onto appreciating the nuances of your life. Your heart that beats, your skin that protects, your freckles and bumps and callouses. Your dreams and successes and failures.

Our conversation has come back to me repeatedly since we talked, and each time, I have stopped what I was doing and taken the time to celebrate the joy in that moment.

It may just have been my shift in perspective, but this week seems like it has been especially good.

Because joy and perfection are in the eye of the beholder. And if you don't behold yourself and your children as perfection, you  are missing out on the joy of life.

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