Friday, January 11, 2008

If Mama Ain't Happy

I have always kinda hated the saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." It evokes for me the image of a demanding, hard to please woman whose emotions tyrannically rule those around her. The kind of woman I never want to be. The kind of woman I know I could very easily become if I am not careful and apart from the grace of God. Lately, however I have come to understand the profound truth in that statement. I have also come to understand that really need not be an admonition to those around mama, but to mama herself.

This realization came a couple of weeks ago when my husband came home from work and made this remark, "You seem to be in good spirits!" He said it with a small measure of surprise and no small measure of joy on his face. At first I was a little puzzled. Was this such a strange occurrence? Am I not usually in "good spirits?" Before I opened my mouth to ask I thought about the previous few weeks.

To start off I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. I have not proven myself to be a real trooper (i.e. silent sufferer) when it comes to pregnancy. Secondly, this pregnancy seemed to be doing a real bang up job on my emotions, not just my tummy and my energy like last time. Thirdly, I had been pretty sick and then so had my baby. And lastly, my previously very easy going baby had entered a little fussy phase just as I had entered my weakened state. So yeah, while I would like to believe I hadn't been downright grumpy, I could concede that perhaps it had been a while since my husband had come home to find me in actual good spirits.

What was of such great interest to me was how delightfully happy he was to find me in that state. It was very curious to me. I just locked this little observation away in my heart. In the weeks that followed I began to see this was a trend. The happier I was the happier he was - the more we seemed to enjoy each other's company and the more smoothly we sailed through the little things that came our way. The gloomier I became the more sullen he became. Things became harder for both of us. I then started noticing that the same was true with my baby. When I was having a joyful day, she seemed to have a joyful day right along with me. The more tense and overwhelmed and unhappy my behavior was, the less consolable she was. I began to realize the kindest and most loving and outright best thing I can do for my family, for those I love most, and for those who love me most, is to choose joy. Just be happy. Look at the sunny side and be grateful. I couldn't believe such a small thing could have such an impact on our home. But it really did. More than a vacuumed rug, more than a delicious new recipe, more than everything being in place. Just a light-hearted, merry spirit.

That is when I remembered the old saying, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" And no one can be responsible for mama's happiness, but mama. I have a long ways to go to totally apply this principle to my life, but I am very excited about it. What could be a more pleasant goal than learning to be happy more regularly. I am not going to resort to fake happiness, because as I have been learning, it not only isn't fruitful, it isn't necessary. As a Christian, no matter how bad things get, there is always something to be thankful for, something to really and truly smile about. That is the gift I am going to work to give my family this year. My smile.


Judy Kay said...

This is so, so , SO true!! Amazing how much we mama's affect the atmosphere of our homes and our families. You described it all wonderfully and I am right there with you (in wanting to give my cheerful smile most of all).

joanfaith said...

Thank you Jenny Lynn. I have always looked up to you so much and even your simple words are such an encouragement to me. I love you!!

jenny walker said...

jenny, this is such a simple, but wise observation! reading this has really challenged me to be more aware of the way i look at the day to day stuff. i realize there are so many times that i lose my joy to the busyness of life, and that is really sad. plus, like you said i am not the only on affected by it. it is felt by everyone around me. (even the cashier at the grocery store) thanks for the words of wisdom. this is my first time on your blog and i'm loving it.. thanks for being you!! i miss you!