Being Happy

As Alexis grows up, I find myself wondering how I will measure myself as a parent. How do I decide if I’ve been a good parent? How does anyone decide that they are a good parent? What even makes a good parent?

I’ve pondered this for a while and gone back and forth. Do I want her to be successful? To become a parent herself? Healthy? Can I even affect those things? In the end I don’t think any of these is a way to judge a good parent. In fact, I don’t know if you can judge a parent at all. I find myself settling instead on a simple hope.

I hope she’s happy.

If nothing else, I hope that Alexis is happy. Maybe not all the time, that’s impossible. But happy more than not.

I also hope she understands that happiness is not the same as feeling good. I’ve known too many people waste their lives on alcohol and drugs confusing the two. Happiness might require struggle. It might require hard work. It might not feel good at all. Personally, I love building things even though it is very hard and very frustrating. It is that struggle, that difficulty, in creating something new that makes me happy.

Happiness takes many forms. Sometimes it is being loved. Sometimes it is being alone. Sometimes it is doing what you know and sometimes it is the thrill of the unknown. Always you need to find it for yourself.

Alexis will need to find her happiness and there is only so much I can do to help her. I can love her unconditionally. I can support her when she takes risks, celebrate with her when she succeeds and comfort her when she fails. I can tell her the stories of my life and hope that maybe they help a little. I will do all these things and in the end, there is only one thing I can hope for as a parent.

I hope she’s happy.

I might never know if she is truly happy. Sometimes you can see it in people, at a wedding or a graduation. Sometimes people wear their happiness for the world to see. But, for most of us it is impossible to tell from the outside. Most of us never tell our parents what they want to hear, that we are really, truly happy. We greet each other at the holidays, call each other on the weekends. We talk about sports and kids and politics, but we never think to share that one thing that matter so much.

But that’s okay.

Even if she told me she was happy, I would worry it would change. I would worry that she would lose it somewhere along the way. Maybe while I was with her, or after I am gone. I’m a parent so I worry, and I worry most about this. That’s my job and its one I welcome because I am comforted by my hope. That hope which will keep me doing whatever I can to help her live her life to the fullest.

I hope she’s happy.

As for me, Mom and Dad you can rest easy. I am really, truly happy. I’m sorry I don’t say so more often.



Image made available via Creative Commons by Wikipedia user flyingtigersite.