The One Vital Thing Moms Have to Choose Every Day—Because Our Kids Are Watching

It can’t be bought on Amazon.
Or in the grocery store.

It’s not available for download, and you won’t find it in your closet, your cupboard, or your fridge.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I love me some good retail therapy. There is nothing that can pull me out of a slump so fast as a sale at DSW. But that happy – it doesn’t last. When retail therapy is used inappropriately, like any addictive substance that is used to medicate or mask a symptom, it doesn’t last. The rebound effects can be devastating. The guilt. The shame. The debt…

And the children, they are watching. They are always watching. They see when we self-soothe with things instead of thoughts. While I have every belief that ice-cream can be therapeutic when you’re five, or eight, or eleven, it can’t fix everything. The happy? It doesn’t last.

There are some salves that can’t be bought online, or in a store. They have a lighter price…

I want my kids to know that joy, like grace, is freely given.

In abundant measure, without limits, or cost, it is available to them for the having. I want to show them that:

  • Joy can be had during days of deepest sorrow, and greatest delight.
  • Joy is not an outcome, or a result, but rather, it is a choice. Free for the taking.
  • Joy is present in every moment if we only just stop and seek it…in the blue of the sky, the warmth of the sun, or in the iridescent shine of a bubble on the wind.
  • Joy is in the smell of a boy, freshly washed, and the warmth of a cat in the lap.
  • Joy is in the even in-and-out-breath of someone you trust so wholly as to lay down beside them every night, and walk beside them every day.
  • Joy is present in bare-toes-in-the-grass, daffodils-in-spring, Saturday-morning-sleepy.
  • In the days following my mother’s death, joy was still there.
  • Joy was in the photos-smiling from album pages that we read and while we cried.
  • Joy was in the tear-soaked quilt of her bed, and the kindness of friends and colleagues and even strangers who bore witness to our grief as we said goodbye.
  • There was joy in the fringed-edged shawl I wrapped myself in as we laid her to rest, the very velvet that had wrapped her shoulders once, and joy in the days and weeks and months after, every time childish-boy-arms wrapped my waist when tears bubbled up unbidden, unchecked.
  • There is joy in grief. Joy in suffering. Joy in happiness. Joy in compassion, and giving, and grace.

It is everywhere, if we only take the time to stop and soak it in. Freely given. Freely received.

Unlike the happy,
it will never run out,
it will never fade,
it can never be taken away.

3 Ways to Trade Your Anger for Peace


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Adelle Gabrielson
It’s Adelle, like the singer except with two Ls, and, let’s just be clear, it was my name first. I was raised and lived most of my life in the crazy Silicon Valley of Northern California, and I’m now a recent transplant to the Seacoast of New Hampshire. I share this life with my husband of 20 years, Gabe, and our two sons, ages 14 and 10. In order to survive, I write about our wild and crazy existence. After being a working-mom in advertising and marketing for 13 years, I’m now at home and writing full-time. (Or rather, I’m a full-time mom and I write in the meager spare time that affords.) I’m a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild, a regular contributor to ParentLifemagazine, the City Moms Blog Network, and a featured essayist in Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives, April 2017. I love great fiction, design and decorating, Gabe’s hand-crafted lattés, and shoes. Stop by my website or follow me on Facebook to read more about my messy, imperfect, boy-mom life.