If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy

9:37 AMHeather

I don't know about your family.  Maybe it's just us?  But here in our humble little abode, we go through seasons of struggling.  The tone in the house seems negative.  Everyone seems off kilter and on each other's nerves.  I'm keeping it real, folks.  I'd love to say that our home is always a happy, peaceful loving place.  I want it to be.  In fact, I often remind my kids at bad moments that this house needs to be where each of us feel the most secure and safe.  Emotionally and otherwise.  

Whining.  Complaining.  Fussing.  I hate it when we get in that tail spin and I can't seem to turn the tide.  And not just from my kids.  I hate it in myself.  Oh, not in the moment necessarily.  But, the truth of it is that this type of venting rarely solves anything and I usually feel badly after the fact.  Yet, I continue to allow myself to do it.  I don't try hard enough to stop it.  I tend to turn a blind eye.

Enter this whole choice for gratitude as my word for 2013.  Holy smokes, I had no idea where that would lead me.  I've been harping on discontent and whining with you here, bloggy friends.  Sorry.  Today is more of the same.  I speak to myself.  I step on my own toes.  And, I pray that somewhere in here, you find something useful, too.  

Yesterday, as I was running all over town, my mind was wandering as it so often does while I'm driving alone.  It was that shallow sort of wandering randomly from one topic to another--nothing too deep.  For some reason, I thought of that old saying.  Happy wife, happy life.  And, my first thought was, "Heck yes!  Love that.  If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!  Keep mama happy!"  I was mulling over this discord and discontent our family seems to be battling.  Yep.  There you have it.  If everyone could just be a little more mindful of how they treat me.  How they respond to me.  If my kids could somehow conquer their teenage angst and bad attitudes at times, that would solve everything.

I was feeling quite smug.  As I assured myself that the issue and solution lie in my children.  Now, just how to convince them to treat me well?  Appreciate how I do their laundry, keep them fed, keep the pantry full, keep their lunch accounts balanced.  They NEVER seem to appreciate or notice just all that I do for them.  Like the endless errands I was running, partially on their behalf.  Woe is me!  I'm so unappreciated.  Whine, whine, whine.

In the words of that sitcom....BAZINGA.

Big gulp.  Because I know the Holy Spirit turned my thoughts to a blog I recently read.  I can't for the life for me find it to share it with you here.  Sorry!  But, I'll summarize for you.  It was about a wife having a conversation with her husband about improving their family and their marriage.  She was opening herself up to tweaking.  And she was surprised by her husband's response.  She asked him what would be the greatest gift she could give him.  

And, his answer?  He asked that she try to be more happy.  Try to be less irritable.  Try to be pleasant, especially when he first comes home from work.  He expressed how he understood her need to vent, but simply ask that she work harder to be easier to be around.  How the greatest gift she could give him would be to a wife who is content.

Oh. My. Gravy.  The epiphany came.  Happy wife, happy life?  What if I turned that on its head and instead of thinking it was about keeping ME happy, it was about ME being a happy wife to help set a happy life for all those around me.  Brutal revelation.

What if I turned that other saying upside down, too?  What if "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" transformed its meaning for me.  What if it was not a call to keep mama happy but a challenge to be the happy mama who sets a happy tone for the house?  

What if I faced the hard truth of the matter?  As the mom and the wife, I set the tone emotionally for my family.  Really.  It's the harsh reality that I know deep in my heart.  But, all too often I respond with a heartfelt, "LA! LA! LA!  I'm not listening!"  Because it's.  just. so. hard. (said in the whiniest voice ever).

The Holy Spirit wrapped it all up in a bow as he reminded me of the verse I'd read that morning.  Yep.  That very morning.  Because I'm going through a You Version devotion plan on Philippians.  And, the verse caught my attention.  I even wrote it on the nightly bedtime cards I place on my children's pillows.  To challenge them to change.  

             Do all things without grumbling
or complaining.
Philippians 2:14

Hit me square between the eyes.  The very thing I was asking of my kids is not something I am always willing to live out myself.  Do as I say, not as I do?  Yeah, that's an effective parenting strategy.  Ugh.  Head on I need to embrace that in this area of discontent, of being irritable, of being moody, I need to be the person I want my children to be.  

Conviction is such a hard thing to face sometimes.  Even harder to live out.  But, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is calling me out.  Because he loves me.  As a Father who disciplines those that he loves.  He's saying enough is enough.  Grasp this truth, accept this challenge.

The secret to turning the tide of discontent and good old fashioned fussiness within my home?  Be the one who sets the pleasant tone.  Be intentional to greet my husband with a smile or a kind word.  I'm not saying be fake.  I'm saying work harder to be pleasant and content.  And express your emotions--all of them--constructively.  Calmly.  Without accusation.  Maturely.  Picture how I want my kids to respond (and not REACT) to each other.  And be the one who shows them how.  Quit being lazy about my attitude and expecting my children to do any different.  

Indeed.  Happy wife, happy life.  Mamas and wives--can we accept the challenge?  Can we pray for the Lord to help us in the area of discontent and moodiness?  Can we ask Him to be the Lord of our emotions so we can set a pleasant and peaceful tone emotionally in our homes?  Girls--can we try to be the "happy mama" so that it's contagious?

Whew.  Let's accept this challenge.  Let's rise up and refuse to let the enemy steal our joy.  Not for another second.  We will not give him a foothold in our families to allow discontent to run rampant.  Instead, we will work to weed out our unpleasant attitudes and be a homemaker, indeed.  Making a home of love, laughter, joy, and peace.  What God calls us to, He'll equip us for.  Join me on this journey!  I'm starting to buckle my seat belt.  Because I think this road to gratitude is going to be thrilling, exhilarating, challenging, difficult.  And oh so worth it.     

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