My nine year old,wise beyond his years , gave me one of his fabulous bear hugs today saying ' It's a sad fact that none of us can be around for ever'. I could have cried. Yet instead, I took (another) deep breath and said 'That's why we have to live our lives being happy and loving each other, Max. That's all we really have to do.'
I have always known that I wanted my children to be happy. My way of doing that does not involve elaborate showers of gifts, expensive experiences or the like. I surround myself with the people I love and great friends who have similar aims for their children. Occasionally I hear of issues friends have with other families desperately trying to up-manouveur within a school community by inviting every child in the class to a birthday party on a space rocket with i-pads in the goody bags - I'm exaggerating but I'm sure I had a few parents panicking for a moment or two. It can all get a bit crazy out there, but it really doesn't have to.
We all want a happier world, where our children are safe, content and healthy. I want my children to feel loved and be happy. Their happiness should be a contendedness gained from their demeanour, their sense of self and their relationship with the world, not quick fixes brought with gifts, expensive holidays or other more egocentric pursuits. I want them to know they are loved, I want them to swim in the sea, find the joy in simple pleasures, make healthy friendships, read great books, love easily, speak out against injustice and live kind lives. I strive to teach them to take what they need, give back what they don't need and share what they can. With every step, I will do my best to make that happen.
My youngest completed a form in the library today which asked him to list his name,his age and to complete the sentence 'I like ... '
He simply wrote '... happy times' and melted the hearts of the two rather day-worn librarians before him. It's all anyone really wants. We just need to put a little love in our hearts (Beth Orton's line, not mine)
Occasionally, I see a glimpse of the kind,loving, honest young men they will one day become. It warms my heart. I know that my children are happy when they are relaxed, enjoying something they have planned to do with me such as play in the paddling pool, walk in the woods, watch a film and are equally happy with a surprise trip to a play area or the cinema. They are happy playing with the rabbit in the garden, curled up with a good book, listening to music, dancing in the sitting room . . . I could go on. It's just all about balance.
So, let's take that deep breath, close our eyes and take that leap of faith.
Mahatma Ghandi wisely said 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' I live by that powerful phrase with tiny, tiny baby steps. I know I can't combat world hunger, sea pollution, stop wars or fix the big issues all on my own. I'm not powerful enough. Yet in little ways, we can all take pride in how we make less of an impact globally. But I'll save that debate for another post.
Happiness can be derived from the tiniest positive changes we make to our own lives and the lives of others. By living our lives kindly and with love, by trying to be better with every step we make, we can't fail.
Maybe, by being the change we want to see in the world, in time, like ripples on a pond, our happiness and the happiness of all our children will grow.