In so many ways, we're nothing alike. I am at home in a sea of humanity, surrounded by noise and Nike Zoom Fit Agility Pink buildings and traffic and strangers; she's at home in the woods. I kill everything I plant; she grows prairies.
"I would do anything for your mom," one friend replied.
Most of all, though, I'm lucky I get to see her happy.
My whole life I've watched her find joy through travel and books and bird watching. With my dad. With her friends. On walks and at work.
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I was sharing lunch with a friend recently when the conversation turned to happiness, specifically our parents'.
in us, too, my older brother and me, when we weren't fighting over who started it and who should shut up and who looked out whose car window.
So here she is at 70, preparing to embark on a camping trip to Vermont with my dad in a few weeks, followed by a birding trip to Brazil with her San Diego pal a few weeks later.
I never find the right balance because I think it's ever shifting. But I keep trying, and that's in large part because I watched my mom try, and often succeed.
I joke that I'm the only one of my friends lucky enough to have a vegan, Prius driving environmentalist mom who joins protest rallies against the Keystone oil pipeline.
She recalled the first time she saw her dad truly happy well into her adulthood, after he'd moved a continent away and built a boat for himself. It was lovely, she recalled.
exercise or friendship. Something you have permission to do should, in fact, find time to do.
I've watched my mom, in my lifetime, create a legacy. I've watched her gather a few girlfriends and start a conservation revolution in my hometown of West Dundee. I've watched her restore habitats and save wildflower species and protect wetlands from being drained and paved over and turned into who knows what. A tanning salon, maybe. Another Chili's.
Anyway, a joyful parent is a gift like no other. When parents carve space in their lives for happiness, it gives their kids permission to do the same. Happiness looks like a skill and Nike Kyrie Nike Id
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She took joy in us separately, mostly. We weren't that enjoyable as a set.
I think often about those conversations as I raise my own kids, wondering, always, how to strike the right balance between selflessness and self preservation; between time for them and time for me; between their friends and my friends, their pursuits and my pursuits.
I went through a phase, during and shortly after my divorce, when I would ask my friends, "Was your mom happy when you were growing up?" I was lurching toward my own happiness again and I hoped (believed?) my kids, 2 and 6 at the time, would be better for it. My friends and I would talk about how different our childhoods would have been if the answer was yes instead of no; no instead of yes.
Parents are the first people we're crazy about. We grow up witnessing and measuring every one of their emotions. Joy is the one we like best the one we try hardest to inspire, from the moment we realize other people's emotions are something we get a say in.
Following a happy parent's example is no easy feat
I could have called 60 more people and gotten the same response.
I'm not joking about the lucky part. Lucky that I have a mom who's kind and funny and energetic and impassioned, yes. Even luckier that she's healthy, of course.
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