There have been many joy-stealers who have entered then been booted from my life. While I fundamentally believe that joy is found within myself, and that I create my own joy, there are always those who find their mission in raining on my parade, stealing my thunder, taking the wind out of my sails, seeking my specific company for their misery.
Well, no more, I declare.
And the lesson for me, in making that declaration, is to not be the joy-stealer of my children.
This morning I put on my running shoes for the first time in 9 months (gasp!) and loaded Jasmine into the jogging-stroller for 5 laps around the block. As I limped back up our driveway, the sky opened and rain plummetted down for about 20 minutes. When it finished, Anna and Holly, still in pajamas, ran out the back door yelling, "Dad, Dad!! Help us find the biggest puddle!!"
This is the joy of childhood. Splashing in puddles. Whooping and screaming as the cool, dirty water spills into their Crocs. Scooping the water out of the little splash-pool with their hands, running across the lawn and 'watering' my already-soaked flower beds.
"Look Mom! We're giving your garden a drink!!"
And then Jasmine, who had been practically head first into the splash-pool, comes toddling over. For her, the word 'drink' means 'nurse', and suddenly she remembers that she is thirsty for mama. Still sweating and soggy, I accomodate.
Joy. It's all joy. Their behaviour is my delight, and I must not think about the muddy pyjamas and the trampled garden. They are doing science. They are investigating nature. They are loving life. Loving each other.
Curiosity is joy. Learning is joy.
So it is my job to stay out of the way of their joy. I must trust their joy. The fullness of their joy should be all the validation I need to show me that they are reaching their full potentials. When I embrace their joy, the garden and the pyjamas cease to matter and instead I have peace. How incredible that for me, embracing my children's joy brings peace. The same peace that I felt in the darkness cradling my newborn Jasmine. It is a peace that I didn't even know existed, and that I didn't even know I was craving. The gift of children is joy. The gift of parents is peace.
I must actively make myself talk less to my children. Less criticism. Less praise. Less commentary. Less explanation. More listening. More observing. More enjoying. More peace. This is what I am striving for. This is me, staying out of the way of my daughters' authenticity. I will not be the joy-stealer in their lives.