Why Be Happy?

I was looking at a draft of this post as an earthquake just rippled through New York. Several of my workmates felt it. I didn’t — I was dreamy, lost in a break from work, reading my own blog.

My niece made this heart in the sand. Kids are amazing.

Here’s the post I was looking at when the rest of NYC felt the tremor —

***Maybe I should stop looking for happiness and start looking for meaning.

In How To Land Your Kid in Therapy the writer Lori Gottlieb asks: “Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?”

I’ve blogged about this  A Generation of Disconnected Kids And decided I’m going to walk the middle ground between helicopter mom/tiger mom and neglectful mom.

Gottlieb’s article is tearing up the blogosphere. Even the blog, The Quotidian Hudson, http://quotidianhudsonriver.com/, devoted to the awesome Hudson River, quotes Gottlieb’s article:

“Happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster.”

That is something it seems we don’t teach much anymore.  As the founders/Jefferson put it, Happiness is not an unalienable right “the pursuit” is… (Robert Johnson)

I think part of my problem with over-parenting is that I am overly involved with my kids’ happiness. I need to step back and let them pursue their own happiness. Then I can pursue my own.

I can do less, but that means I need to ask for more help. Asking For Help.  And that’s not easy.

But remember my Number 2 Rule? Pile on the People!

And though everyone’s talking and blogging about Gottlieb’s Atlantic article. I hope the discussion on overinvolved parents (read mothers) doesn’t devolve into a mother-bashing session,  ’cause God knows, we mothers are doing the best we can.

That would be a nice after-shock to the article — if people had a greater appreciation for a mother’s work and helped one another out more.

Happy Campers

I tagged along yesterday as an older and wiser camper took my daughter on a tour of her new sleep away camp. We visited the arts and crafts cabin, petted an old horse in the stable and walked to the archery range.

But the most happening stop on the tour was at the stage set. The crew was painting, building, finding props for the production of Charlotte’s Web. Or maybe it was The Ugly Duckling. I was only half listening to the tour guide, hypnotized as I was by the young women working.

The campers and counselors were totally in the zone, like bees building a hive. Each doing their own thing, but doing it for a greater good. Work can be like this — like parallel play; like, we are doing our own thing, but we are side by side. And it all comes together in the end.

When I taught drama to kids, I tried to teach them that the lead role in a show was a small piece in a much bigger puzzle. The real world and work of theater is about collaboration. There are box office managers, set designers, costumers, musicians, lighting engineers, a variety of skilled craftspeople.

Theater is about craft — not about celebrity. It is about being in community and building something even brighter than the brightest star. Theater is about snapping the jigsaw pieces together to create the production.

As our tour guide and my daughter drifted ahead, I dawdled. I wondered if parenting, which often feels like my work alone, is a collaborative project, like a theater production. And maybe this is why I like sending my kids to camp. Yes, they are the brightest stars in my personal production. But they are, like all of us, workers on a set in a production even larger than I understand. They are co-creators of a new show. And I have to let them go.

As parents and as campers, we play our bit parts. We help build the set.