“Mommy, how can you be so happy all the time?”
My seven year old asked me tonight.
We’d been driving for about twelve hours home from our winter vacation in Florida
(heavenly – thanks for asking).
Her question surprised me.
I hadn’t even thought about it.
I was really happy.
Having the best day.
My whole family, in one place, together,
Games, music, laughing, long meandering conversations.
No one distracted by TV, computer, phone, arrangements, or work.
A bubble of warmth.
What’s not to be happy about?
I told her that I choose to be happy all the time
By how I think.
I told her today I was thinking about how much I love my family,
And how grateful I am that we’re having this amazing holiday.
Her question reminded me of how I used to be on long road trips.
I hated them.
I used to complain all the time.
I used to have tantrums in anticipation of the kids having tantrums, being bored, or getting hungry.
In fact, I’ve only been joining the family on these drives for the past 2 years.
Before, my husband used to drive with two kids, and I used to fly with two kids.
(He loves long drives, because he thinks that they’re relaxing and enjoyable.)
I used to think I got the better deal.
I had many thoughts about how it was too long to drive, too boring to sit for so long, too hard to keep the kids entertained, I hate passing them food all the time, I don’t want to listen to their complaints and fighting, Disney World (where they always stop on the way to Miami) was too loud, too busy, too fake.
I thought driving to Florida was too “middle America” for unique me!
But I used to notice that when they picked us up at the airport,
They were already relaxed and tanned,
And we, the fliers, were still stressed, achy and pasty.
Plus they always had all their luggage with them!
After I had done some coaching work, I decided that driving should be a family event.
I worked hard to convince my husband.
The deal was that I would be a very passive passenger.
No decision making powers, no opinions.
Very different from my usual role in our family.
I packed myself fresh fruits and veggies, knitting, needlepoint and a laptop.
I felt quite lucky to have been let in on this exclusive little club.
I was excited to discover what there was to see and explore new territory.
And, guess what? l loved it.
We’re creating family traditions and memories.
I’m very well behaved (and by the way, so are the kids)
Because I’m very happy.
The circumstance stayed exactly the same: 24 hour drive to Florida over 2 days.
Results – totally different.
Because my thinking about the drive changed,
my feelings changed
so my actions changed
which has resulted in our entire family experience being rewritten.
It’s a wonderful thing that I decided to invest in coaching before my kids were old enough to remember their tantrummy Mama – maybe with time my hubby will also forget that I wasn’t always ‘happy all the time’.