Sunday, August 1, 2010

All Joy No Fun

Did any of you read the article last week from New York Magazine All Joy No Fun - Why Parents Hate Parenting ? If not, you need to allocate about 20 minutes and go read that right now. Parent or not.
Did you read it? WOW right? Ok, now did you read some of the comments? Let me say that I was rather impressed with several of the readers' comments. Intelligent and insightful even. They gave more weight to the article for me. But back to the article...
Heartbreaking...such a limited view on parenting and the choices (or not) behind it. Look, I'll be the first to tell you that I never saw myself as a mom, or maybe it was just that I never saw myself as what I thought the typical 'mom' looked like. Not that I didn't have a good role model.
And insert aside here:
My mother was/is quite possibly one of the most amazing, accomplished and complicated people I have ever had the pleasure to call friend. And I appreciate all of her qualities even more, now that I have my own child. There is an entirely new level now that we are 3 generations. It's like the bonus round in Super Mario, but without the annoying music. Want to love, understand and appreciate your mother more than you thought possible - have a baby.

...and we're back.

I agree that there are new expectations of parenting as outlined in the article. There is a lot of competition and judgment going around too. And this is just as apparent in the Christian community as it is elsewhere.
I have to agree with one of the comments, but refine it and say that having kids will not make you ultimately happy, neither will not having them. Same goes for being married, getting the job or whatever other goal you have. We have to consider how we measure our happiness. Or our joy.

I have a million verses I could stick in here about where my ultimate joy comes from but here are a few of my favorites:
"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full." John 15:11

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13

And one that is a little harder, but helps me all the time...

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing for your faith produces steadfastness." James 1: 2-4

The joy/ happiness robbing is a 360 problem as well, economy, leave conditions, current social issues, technology and so on influence us in more ways than we know. No wonder our heads are spinning and we are always second guessing ourselves - when every other blog post or news article says there is a newer and better way to do things.
Ultimately we do have a choice. We have the power in this struggle. There were and still are days when I  have to  stop and reevaluate every hour. Am I going to choose joy? Lord help me choose joy, and remain in You for that joy.

I don't have a concrete response for this, I just thought it needed to be shared. Tell me what you think!


  1. Terribly depressing story, but I'm glad you sent it. I think you're right that we can choose joy, and I think it comes from within. We must get in touch with our inherent, joyful nature. We have to practice doing that on a regular basis, so that it comes somewhat automatically when faced with stress. It's therefore all the more important for parents to have some sort of regular spiritual practice that helps them tune into that joy. Unfortunately parents are busy people so they probably have the least time for regular spiritual practice. In that case, parenting itself can be a spiritual practice.

    Thich Nhat Han thinks that one of the most spiritual things you can do is take the hand of a child. It becomes spiritual when we exist in the moment; really being there with children. If we take time to just watch kids for a while, we see how wonderfully they tap into their inner joy. It amazes me how much my niece and nephew love just running back and forth across a room. Children can be our greatest spiritual teachers - so many kids have the wisdom of "old souls."

    Sorry, I had only intended to write a short comment. But thanks Megan - this really touched me.

  2. going right now to read this article. great post, and great insight about what happiness is and is not...