Saturday, December 12, 2009


I have been thinking a lot about happiness since I watched the documentary Including Samuel last week. There is a part in the film (I apologize because I don't have it 100% correct here) in which a parent (maybe it was Samuel's mother - oh man, my memory this week is shot) says that the biggest thing that they had to learn about acceptance of their child who has a disability is the importance of just being grateful that they are happy, whatever that may mean. What makes your child happy can be completely different than what makes you happy.

I have my own interpretation of what happiness means to me. It also varies depending upon the moment. Right now happiness may mean a day of which I don't have to do work like grade papers, write reports, etc. Ten years ago happiness might have meant doing these things because I was just starting out in my career and wanted to be successful. I am struck by the idea that my interpretation of what happiness means - basically marriage, children, career, education, perfectionism, etc - isn't necessarily what Quinn's interpretation may be. Let's say she is lower-functioning on the DS spectrum (often a worry of mine) - maybe I have to realize that if right now happiness to her is playing with her bell and not learning to walk across the room - that is ok. Quinn's happiness doesn't have to equal mine. It is more important that she is happy and that I love her unconditionally.

On this journey I have struggled with this because let's face it, I am an overachiever, a workaholic, and a perfectionist. To me I love excelling - getting the top grade, seeing the most clients, having four jobs, doing things that others may not be able to do. Just right now I would like to take a break from reading papers and reports (oh man). I am not saying that I am better than anyone - there are plenty of things that other people do that I could not do (being a stay-at-home mom for one - I just think that would be VERY difficult for me - it would not be a pretty picture and I would suck at it). It is just that Quinn is teaching me to re-think what I think happiness is and be open to different interpretations.

By the way, I recommend Including Samuel - it is a great film!


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