I recently started to read the book "The Happiness Project", by Gretchen Rubin. I first heard about this from my sister, but other friends have also been reading it too. The idea of taking active steps to make myself happier is very appealing. Not that I'm depressed, or even unhappy...far from it. But I definitely feel that I can be happier. I borrowed the book from the library, but am enjoying it so much that I bought my own copy (I also bought one for my very best friend; he and I plan on working on our own happiness projects together). Gretchen also has a website that is worth checking out.
Anyhow, I'm only halfway done with the book, but so far the chapter on parenting is really hitting home. Gretchen writes about "fog happiness". On page 91, here's what she writes: "In many ways, the happiness of having children falls into the kind of happiness that could be called fog happiness. Fog is elusive. Fog surrounds you and transforms the atmosphere, but when you try to examine it, it vanishes. Fog happiness is the kind of happiness you get from activities that, closely examined, don't really seem to bring much happiness at all---yet somehow they do."
I understand fog happiness. In some ways, my half marathon and triathlon training is like this. Training makes me incredibly happy. However, when I'm actually doing the training, I'm rarely happy. Running is hard, swimming can be boring, and biking is a huge effort for me. At any given moment I am not happy...yet the whole thing makes me happy. Fog happiness. Likewise with my kids. I love my kids so much; they are my life, and I think I am a very good mother. However, on a day-to-day basis, I don't experience a lot of happiness with my kids. I experience a lot of emotions---contentment, pride, anger, frustration, worry, love--but happiness only comes in short bursts here and there.
In the book, Gretchen talks about taking time for projects and traditions. Reading this, I had a brainstorm: why not have a weekly tradition with my kids, doing something that makes all three of us happy? Hence, Cookie Monday was born. I decided that every weekend, my kids would choose a cookie recipe (we have a cookie cookbook, and once that is done there are tons of other books and websites to get new recipes). I would buy the ingredients, and on Mondays after school we would bake them together. I chose Mondays because, let's face it, Mondays are usually boring. And I chose baking cookies because it is relatively easy and it's fun. Plus, even though I love to cook, I am not much of a baker, and I figured this would help me hone my skills.
This past Monday was our first Cookie Monday---and it was a huge success! We made chunky chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips and walnuts. My son, D, read us the recipe and my daughter, A, mixed everything together. It was fun---and I have to say I was happy doing it! We enjoyed eating our freshly-baked cookies, warm from the oven, and now have cookies to eat all week long. We even ordered a new cookie jar for the project, as the only jar we had was a haunted house cookie jar for Halloween, which is inappropriate to display in any month but October.
I'm glad I thought of this project---it's fun, easy, inexpensive, and something that both of my children can do, regardless of their age and academic/physical levels. It's also good for D, who is learning about fractions and measurements, and for A, who needs to practice pouring and stirring for her fine motor skills. The only thing it's NOT good for is my waistline---thank goodness I run! :)