Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happiness


My girls  made their beds this morning. All by themselves without me telling them to. Will they do it tomorrow? Who knows. I really don't care. What I love is that they are learning by example. The example I am trying my best to be for them. I never used to make my bed. I didn't get the point. It used to drive me crazy when I spent the night at my Mema's house and she'd make the bed almost before I was even out of it in the morning. And then you couldn't sit on the bed much less lay on it ALL day long, until bedtime. But when you are a kid at Mema's house, crawling in bed with a book, or to watch tv in her bed are just fun things to do. It drove me crazy that she made the bed every morning!

Mom never made me make my bed and that was cool with me. She was a single working mother for most of my childhood and she knew she had to pick which battles mattered. I totally get that. And we were a happy, healthy family with unmade beds. (Mom, I'm so glad you saw that there are more important things in life than a made bed!) So you are probably wondering why I'm excited that my girls made their beds this morning without me saying one single word about them making a bed.
I like having an orderly house. I feel more creative, calm and at peace when there is no clutter, few nicknacks and empty spaces. This isn't for everyone, but for me, having a clean home works. For some reason after the kids came keeping my house clean and orderly became hard. The excuse, "well duh, you just had twins" only was partly true. I think the societal excuse that "I just had twins" made it true for myself. And yes, in the beginning when they were little infants, some household chores did drop way below the important level just because lack of sleep was a major operating concern. But as they've gotten older, "having twin toddlers" was just an excuse and I was buying into it. I wasn't happy that my house wasn't clean and I thought I deserved someone else to do the work. How funny.

Then I was in a seminar at Landmark Education and during one of the exercises we were doing, I declared that I was going to BE HAPPY. I didn't know what that meant, I just knew that I was complaining a lot and I thought I was happy but I really wasn't. I was waiting for someone else to MAKE ME HAPPY. What I learned is that it's my life and I'm 100% responsible for it. I choose happiness. The next week, I was flying around my house, doing laundry, singing songs, picking up clutter, vacuuming, humming and thriving. Housework was no longer the enemy. I was happy cleaning and the cleaner my house got the happier I was. And then the creativity struck. With the stress of "having to clean today" gone, ideas and projects have been POURING out of my being like never before. I can't even keep up with the inspirations that I keep having. I finally sat down and wrote them all down, took a deep breath and am prioritizing them. The funny thing is I'm doing more each day now that I ever was before. At the end of the day, I can't believe how much I have accomplished.

So like I said before, growing up I never did get the point of making a bed. What I understand now is that there still is no point. BUT if it makes you happy and at peace to walk into a bedroom and see order, a calm space and tranquility, then there is a good  REASON for making your bed. So for the past few months I've been waking up and making my bed before anything else. It's a sort of reminder to myself that I'm starting THIS day off BEING HAPPY. It's a reminder when I walk in or past my room that I am responsible for my feelings and it takes work. No one gives you happiness, aliveness or self expression. They are created by you. I could just have easily chosen some other ritual as a reminder, but I chose to make my bed.

A few weeks ago, the girls started noticing that I was making my bed every morning. They asked me why. I just told them, "It makes Momma happy and proud of her room when I make the bed fancy." They'd run off and go play. Just like my mom, I did not want to have a battle about making a bed. Making the bed has become a symbol for me, it has meaning to me. It took me 31 years to make my bed. And just because I had an epiphany about it, doesn't mean I think it's important. If I made my kids make their beds, they'd grow up resenting making their bed and probably would not make their beds as adults. But they made their bed today without me saying one word. They didn't even brag about it and tell me. I just noticed it. I told them that they did a beautiful job making their beds this morning. They told me they used teamwork. They said they were proud of their fancy rooms and they were proud to use teamwork. THAT is the lesson I want to teach and I want to teach it by example.
Maddie and Izzie

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