I've been reading a lot of Glennon Melton lately. Love her. In my head I'm often as funny and profound as she is. In my head. (A lot goes on in this head of mine. But i digress.) Anyway, she has this concept of "happy-ish" that I love. You see, I'm just learning Happy. That is not to say that I have not had my share of happiness in my life - of course I have! But Happy and I are sometimes tentative friends. We know one another - enough to recognize each other across a crowded room, say - but sometimes, we're out of context and have a difficult time placing each other, remembering each other's names. Familiar but...not. 

My son on the other hand? He is intimately acquainted with Happy. Those guys are tight. BFFs. Blood brothers. Very rarely do you see one without the other. I love that. I'm also jealous as hell sometimes of being left out of the club. Why isn't Happy my best friend, too? When did we lose touch? Oh, right, I think it was right around the time that Hard moved to town. As in, life is sometimes hard, being a grown-up is hard, being a parent is pretty much always hard, maintaining a loving and authentic relationship with your spouse is hard times ten when you have a tiny human in the house... You get the picture.

But here's what I'm learning - from being a parent, from doing work on myself and practicing self-compassion, from reading freakin' children's books (!), from being a Human living life: Happy and Hard, they know each other. They, it turns out, can co-exist. In fact, especially when you are older, Happy doesn't mean as much without Hard. Almost everything is hard but that doesn't preclude happiness. Sometimes, Happy is Hard, but Hard can also be Happy. And really, Happy-ish is the ticket. Because that means that you know Happy. Sometimes Happy is around and sometimes she's not. But it's Oh. Kay.

I think, a lot of the time, it comes down to where you put your focus. That is what Gus is giving me. And, sure, it can be argued that perhaps he hasn't had a lot of hard so far in his life. (Except that being born is hard, and figuring out how to breathe is hard, and going through the loss of your birthparent is hard, and teething is hard, and wanting to be able to do things independently even when you can't is hard.) We all have hard. It looks different to each of us but we all have it. But Gus, Gus doesn't dwell on the hard. He just focuses on being happy. I know, it's likely not a conscious focus for him. And that's probably what makes me jealous. But it can be a conscious focus for me. I want to have a closer friendship with Happy. But Happy-ish will do, too. And more importantly, I want Gus and Happy to be besties for a long, long time. I also want him to know that Hard is not necessarily his enemy. It's all just Life.

see, it's about FOCUS. ok, and LOVE. and SILLY, too. but for consistency's sake, let's go with FOCUS.



So I mentioned before that when he was learning to walk, Gus would clap for himself if no one was around to give him the props he felt he deserved. It's pretty heartwarming to see how proud he is of himself. For everything. He has taken to regularly clapping for himself when he accomplishes something or gets something "right".

We have been working on boundaries and limits (yes, it is going to be a theme for a while I hear). One of the things we've been working on the hardest is the way Gus treats the cats. He loves them. He gets super excited to see them. (read: you-are-so-cool-i-want-to-pull-your-tail-and-swat-at-you-because-i-am-so-excited) They are confusing because they do not react predictably, and the black cat, Indie, is the most ambivalent animal on the planet. He wants to be in the room with Gus. He even wants to play with Gus. Until he doesn't. But instead of leaving (like Neville), he stays there in the room. Sometimes he scratches Gus. Sometimes he ignores him. I'm sure it is very confounding for Gus. Anyway, to make a long story short, we are working on not pulling on the cats (mostly tails, mostly Indie). When Gus gets it right, when he snuggles Indie and gently pats him without pulling, he turns around to check with me and then, he applauds. That kid gives himself a freakin' standing ovation!

And here's the real kicker. He's started doing it for us too. He is pretty adept at communicating his needs these days, but sometimes (mostly in the middle of the night, mostly when the mommies are really out of it) we don't get it right away. Of course, he keeps insisting that there is something to be done and we keep trying. And when we figure it out...? He claps! He applauds our effort and the fact that we figured out what he needed. I mean, damn! How awesome would it be if everyone in our lives clapped joyfully for us when we helped to meet their needs? Or respected a boundary? Or, when we sang a goofy song and did a silly dance? (Yeah, he claps then too) Well, I'll tell you this. When I'm exhausted and up against the wall and wondering what I was thinking with this whole parenting thing, it's pretty flippin' awesome to hear that applause. To know that sometimes, at least according to him, I get some stuff right.

can you handle the cute? 'cause i can't