I love the term Joyful. It makes me smile, just hearing the word. The Oxford Dictionary definition is: “Feeling, expressing, or causing great pleasure and happiness”. To me, it seems like the ideal state for a Mamma – to be largely either personally feeling or expressing, or causing your children to feel great pleasure and happiness. When we fully experience the beauty of pure joy, it feels electric.
I have always had a positive nature and recently I was slammed for it – for my choice to be happy despite the odds. I was called inauthentic as a result which, for a time hurt and baffled me. Ah and then the catch 22 – what other way is there, to respond to a claim of inauthenticity, other than to continue being 100% me?! Of course, that is what fuelled the negative comments in the firstplace. I realise now that it is truly none of my business what people think of me. If I am happy with who I am and my intentions for others are good – it is all good.
The experience raised a question about the whole Joyful Mamma thing – does the name mean that I am joyful all the time? Are you kidding me?!! The only way you can recognise and feel real joy is when you know it’s opposites like agony and sorrow. I know these feelings only too well, my gorgeous Mamma died just after my wedding and just before I found out that I was pregnant with my first born. I experienced the full range of negative emotions during that time of my life and my world felt heavy and arduous. Believe me, I know the opposites of Joy. In my experience, the gift of pain is that it sensitises you in a world intent on desensitisation.
When we feel the opposites of Joy, we often make these uncomfortable feelings more comfortable by numbing them out or repressing them. I became a total pro at this but the lesson I have learnt is that by numbing out the negative, I am naturally more numbed out to the positives. I don’t choose that trade off. I now know that I grow as much through the negative as I am lifted by the positive. I want to feel it all and whenever and wherever I can, I choose Joy. I believe that you will be exactly as joyful as you decide to be.
Remember that Joy is our birthright! This intrinsic state of joy that we are all born with is also known as our Buddha State. No matter what happens to us, this state lies within. Always there, never faltering. Knowing that my intrinsic self is joyful brings such inner peace.
Many years ago I read with delight the Buddhist philosophy that ‘everything passes’. Everything passes but the Buddha State remains. What liberation! Why hold on with attachment? See the situation for what it is and recognise that it will pass. The negative emotions that can flood us so quickly – anger, sadness, frustration, take hold and then dissipate – they all do – that is why they are called e-motions and not e-standstills!!
After my Mamma died, I was often unable to fully immerse myself in joyful experiences. For me it was because I was still grieving and to feel anything close to happiness seemed disrespectful to her memory. It was also because I felt as though to really acknowledge the joy would be akin to tempting fate and would somehow bring about something negative – I would almost be worrying through the happy times, waiting for the next catastrophe to happen. This is of course very common for mothers of young children because kids tend to walk into several calamities during their day! When you are bracing yourself and expecting these calamities to happen, it is hard to slow down and focus on all the good stuff. The only response is to embrace the present – no amount of worrying can change the future or the past and it will certainly impede your enjoyment of the present.A quote by Eckhart Tolle resonates with me here, “Accept-then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it…This will miraculously transform your whole life.”
Our life is our prayer. It is our gift to the Universe. The memories we leave behind when we leave this world will be our legacy to our loved ones. We owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to be happy and to spread that joy around. One more day that you don’t feel JOYful as a mother, is another day that you can’t. It is never too late to start, but always too late to wait!
What is it to embody Joyful Mothering? To be connected with your life in the present moment; to spot and soak up all the joy on offer to empower you and your children and enable you to be better prepared when times get tough; to be able to pause before you react and then react in a more loving way; to recognise the big picture and far reaching impact of your Mothering – to truly bask in the glory of this incredible role and responsibility and see it as life’s ultimate gift.