Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Happiness in a can.

One of the purest forms of happiness I have found exists in a can of whipped cream. You know the kind. Our local Meijer (that's for you Susan!) had the generic version of it on sale last week for 99 cents a can. Everytime I buy Reddi- wip I am reminded of the times I was lucky enough to squirt it into my little Teagan's mouth, most often before she had even started on breakfast, much to her delight. I loved 'breaking the rules' with her and giving her a taste of goodness before she had eaten a nutritous meal, or simply for no reason at all. Just because I was learning as a first-time Mom that her happiness made me happy! I had doubts through my whole pregnancy with her, that I would be a good Mom or have anything worthwhile to pass on to my baby. I doubted that I would do everything right...that was one of my biggest fears...that I would 'mess up my kids' and they would blame me for my poor parenting skills later on in their 'messed up lives'.
What I learned with Teagan, and what I am still learning through life and many times through interactions with my kids, is that I rarely do things right, and that I do 'mess up' a lot of the time. But more importantly, I am learning that kids are very forgiving, and that my mistakes and imperfections are really opportunities for ME to grow and learn and to become a better person.
Thank goodness I have had five kids now...I have needed to do a lot of growing in my life! =) While I am no where near perfection and still fear that I am making all the wrong choices at times, I have lightened up on myself and really, sometimes I am even sort of liking the kind of Mom I have become. Not that I think I am perfect and great (or fame-addicted {wink!}) in any way...but just that I have matured and experienced enough 'small successes' to see that I just might be okay if I stay headed in the Right Direction.
('Right Direction' is capitalized, as I am referring to God being the source of my direction here.)

A couple of days ago, in one of my moments of being a 'good mom', I asked Chip to snap a picture of me and the kids as we played a simple, yet memorable game. They had actually all eaten a fairly balanced dinner this night, although Bella was ready to run from the table without first stopping by the kitchen to get her face and hands wiped clean. When I told her and the others to "line up", she first held back. However, as soon as one caught glimpse of the can of whipped cream I was holding, there was a quick change of heart (and noise level as well as lots of jumping up and down in my kitchen!). As soon as I told them the one that stands most quiet and calm gets to be 'first', they had a little incentive to actually listen to my directions.
They lined up and basically the game consists of me squirting the whipped cream into one mouth after another as they go from front to back and then work their turn back to the front spot. The fun and happiness in that moment is really priceless. For less than a buck, we entertained ourselves for a couple of minutes, we shared time being happy and seeing each other happy, and for an instant, the world was without care.
I know that the world isn't always so simple and easy and carefree. But when it happens, it is truly a beautiful thing. And maybe, just maybe, my kids will remember some of these moments of unencummbered happiness, and they will know that even though I messed up as their Mom, my intentions were always pure.

ETA: I just came back home from picking Brock up from school. I have to load up three girls to go pick up one boy, and they don't always enjoy this quick trip to school and back. Had you been at my house, you would have seen my less-than-stellar moment of motherhood, as I allowed my girls to ride to school wearing their swimming suits. (Our weather today is overcast and around 50 degrees.) If a cop had stopped me for any reason, there likely would have been looks and maybe questions. But that's exactly what I am hoping to take away from this 'reminder lesson' today.
We have choices and opportunities and sometimes we do it right the first time and things go perfectly as planned. Other times we have to settle for less, or simply let go of the expectations we've placed on ourselves and/or others. As in the case of my girls riding to school in their swimsuits. It didn't hurt anyone. It actually saved me some yelling and hassle that would have ensued had I demanded a change of clothing.
I can't stress enough, the fact is, we are all on a journey in life...living, learning, experiencing, growing, becoming, interpreting, reflecting, creating, pursuing, seeking, and a host of other things. The way I am doing that probably looks nothing like the way you are doing that. Even as I think of my own sisters...we were raised with the same rules and with similar expectations and opportunities, yet our lives are very different. Probably neither of them dragged their kids anywhere in swimming suits today. And I'm sure I win at being the biggest 'pack rat' and clutter-creator if you were to stop by our homes and see the mess of toys and things strewn across the floors.
Yet, we love one another and I consider them terrific moms and I'll bet they want the same thing for their kids as I do for mine- the best. Okay. Now I'm not sure where I was really headed when I came back to ammend this post. But I think what I was really trying to say is that happiness is real. It exists when we look for it, just as beauty is there for the taking, and that sometimes our own 'judgements' or inadequacies can hinder us from claiming what really is out there for our simple pleasure.
I hope we all "lighten up" at times to witness and experience beauty and happiness. In the process, we might just find another piece of ourself.


Allison said...

Fun! It's okay to be a "rule breaker" sometimes. Our kids DO need that occasionally just to feel special and have fun. I bet you that will be one of those super fond memories when they get older.
You are a great Mom!

Jennifer Pendley said...

I never thought of that! That truly put a smile on my face right along with your kids! MMMM, whipped cream!

mommyshiv said...

I found my way to your blog via Ali Edwards blog. Thank you for sharing your life and story so openly. God bless you and your beautiful family.

Rodney and Paula said...

hmmm I think Whipped Cream is going on my shopping list!


Cindi said...

I love it! My Mom would have never done that with me but I love to squirt whipped cream into my daughter's mouth too! It's a silly memory that I'm sure she'll do with her kids. Life is just too serious sometimes and a little squirt of whipped cream can put it into perspective!

gloria said...

okay, hands down.
you are the
i know.

i adore how you delight in the delight of your children.

i wish there was a course we could take before giving birth, that taught us the very easy lesson of "delight in the small-ish things".

for now i will be content in using you for a great example.


Hilary said...

Happiness in a can...I love it.
Life dose not get any better then that.
What a fun time.

Cara said...

i have been thinking about this (the "ETA" part of this post) a lot the past few days.
really, there is a lot to enjoy and partake of in life - and while a lot of it is grungy and even maddening (i posted a long rant on my blog while on hold with customer service today), I get to choose my attitude. I get to decide if I want to trudge through my pile of "to do's" or stand paralyzed by inadequacy. I am finding there is a lot more joy in just doing life - even if i am not able to do it perfectly - than there is in standing back and avoiding life because I am afraid of how I might fail.

And by the way, your kids will remember "whip cream nights" for a long long time to come. those are the kinds of sweet memories that my sister and I (now ages 27 and 29) still talk about!

Jenn said...

Hi Jody,

I couldnt begin to tell you how I came across your blog.. but I am so glad I did however it happend. I have been reading your blog for a few months now.. and I LOVE it!

I had to comment on this post.. I am so with you on "breaking the rules" once in a while. I tend to forget to let my kids be kids and have fun with them! I love how happy you all looked in those pictures!

Jenna from GA said...

precious children, adorable pics of a great memory, and a wonderful reminder for everyday life.

thanks jody!

and did i mention PRECIOUS children?

Kim said...

I needed this post today. I have been struggling with happiness and where I want to be - this showed me some clarity - thank you!

Anonymous said...

i have done this with my kids from time to time and it is fun!!
after i read this, i went and gave myself some happiness since daddy had the kids!:):)

Lisa said...

Our heart can be in the right place even when it doesn't look like it... last week my daughter went to school without her winter coat...I live in Ontario,Canada and it's still cold here.

It turned out to be one of the windiest days and was below zero degrees celcius...BRRR.

I had washed her white winter coat because it was no longer white... but forgot to dry it. My daughter has 2 other coats but refused to wear either one... she doesn't like them (she's a teenager)

I would normally push the issue but her bus was coming and I thought this might be a good lesson for her to learn to be prepared the night before.

I was concerned for her all day... as it turns out she was fine. She didn't go out for her nutrition break (recess) and her bus stop is close to home so she didn't really miss not having a coat... so much for learning through experience.

I sure learned though...I had to leave work today to go pick my daughter up from school... she's sneezing, coughing, and has a fever... guess my mom was right, "do up your coat, put on that hat and don't forget your mitts, you don't want to end up with a cold"

Mom's can be pretty smart.

patterns of ink said...

When it's in the house, I'm a whipped cream (cool whip)junkie, but I don't think I've mainlined it directly from the can. =)

Heather said...

Okay Jodi, I am going to try to be a better rule breaker. After all I AM the Mom right? I'm the mom that yells to the kids to change out of the swim suits right this minute. Tomorrow, less yelling.....and we even have a can of Redi-whip in the fridge ;)

tammy said...

Hiya Jody~
Yayyy...another rule breaking mom out there!!! =) I have always given my kids a "dose" of Redi-Whip straight from the can. I mean would you really want to put it on a spoon and take it like medicine? lol I think I learned to "break the rules" from my Grama though. She would go to the bakery, buy a loaf of white homemade bread, and we would sit in the car and pull it apart and eat the inside first! mmmmmm She called it "picnic bread"!! Yes, most people would be appalled that we didn't take it home and slice it up but then we wouldn't have our wonderful sweet memories of picnic bread moments with our Grama! =) Sweet post that brought back sweet memories for me! God bless...
~Tammy in N. Mich.~

erika said...

My boys are actually unaware that Reddi-Wip isn't "suppose" to go straight into their little mouths ;)
Beautiful post...your blog always makes my day. xe

jen mcneely said...

The only thing I remember about my aunt's old boyfriend is the time he squirted whipped cream into our mouths from a reddi whip can. How fun:)

{ Dawn } said...

YES! I've found someone else who sprays the whip cream directly into the mouth!!! YAY!!! A can of whip cream lasts about 5 minutes in our house if we're lucky. My partner just shakes his head... he said a can of whipped cream lasts for a month or more in his house (with 2 boys)... I don't get it - do you?

Mixed Up Me said...

Bring on the whipped cream and the priceless memories!!!

Have a great day!


P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog, I felt like I had been visited by a celebrity! :)

Kiki said...

I am visiting your site for the first time and when I saw the picture, I thought, I am going to like her! Thanks for the reminder that happiness can be found even in small things and about what is more important.

Rays Family said...

Cute story, I once had three teenage girls leave our hot tube in the middle of winter and go to the drive-thru at Wendy's in their teeny bikini's! Can you imagine the looks they got!

Cris said...

I love simple things that builds memories that will last a lifetime. :)

~R~ said...

I love reading your blog. You seem to be an amazing mom, and if I ever get the chance to have children, I hope I do a great job too. Thanks for sharing your life and family with everyone who cares to read.

Sue xx said...

Oh can I come over for some whipped cream some time. Something so simple but bringing so much joy to the house.

You house just seems like so much FUN!!!

susan opel said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoh, Meijer! Bless that holy place!

3QTGUYS said...

Hey, girl! We squirt Reddi Whip too, and we are not ashamed! Love that!