My Kids Don’t Make Me Happy

My kids are beautiful. Nearly grown man-children now, every phase of their lives has been marked by challenges and accomplishments I could have never known would unfold when I first felt them kick in my womb. From the moment they were born and I saw how perfectly they were formed – so different from me, yet part of me – I have been in awe of the process of mothering.

I recognize the gifts that I have been given as each of my boys has walked through the world creating their own paths as they go.

From the first time they spit up on me or had explosive diapers as I was about to go out the door for work, to those teenaged moments of angst and argument that left me counting the days until they turned 18, I have learned unconditional love.

From the moments when my heart broke when I turned around and left each one at kindergarten, then later as I’ve watched each one walk out the door, car keys in hand and plans that didn’t include me, I’ve learned that love can mean letting go.

As each one has gently (and sometimes harshly) turned away my ideas for what they should do with their lives and, instead, stepped into their own purposes and processes – in spite of me or because of me – I have been learning that life is not about me or what I want, and that I have been given these children on loan, to shape and mold as best I can, before they, too, join the continuum of life.

And I have learned, time and again, that in my determination to not make the same mistakes my own parents made, I have taken my own falls that my children will fault me for and be adamant to not repeat. And for that lesson, I am grateful.

But my children do not make me happy.

They bring me more joy than any other human beings on the planet, but my own happiness is not theirs to achieve. Happiness is something that happens between acceptance of myself and my ability to recognize and obey my own sense of purpose. Happiness is not something I’m given or that I must search for in anything outside of myself, but rather, a state of being that I alone am responsible for achieving.

My kids don’t make me happy because I will not burden them with that responsibility. They can only bring me joy, teach me lessons, and show me that life is beautiful.

Only I can make me happy.

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis, LLC

Women’s advocate and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance.

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