Surprising Moments of Joy in an Ordinary Day

It’s about the small stuff.

I have long lost any patience I once had for sixth grade math homework. Or, to be honest, I was never really any good at sixth grade math but, nonetheless, I’m attempting to help my youngest son with his nightly math assignment and I’m not being as patient as I could be. My oldest son is home from college for the week and he dismisses me with, “Why are you yelling at him?” followed by, “I’ve got this mom.” I skulk into the family room but surreptitiously watch them; their heads bent together, the little one and the big one, and I feel a physical ache. Watching the people you love, love each other, is one of life’s greatest joys.

Mom reflects on the joy of the small things in life.

[Dear Older Sibling: What You Need to Know Before You Leave For College]

I once thought that joy came from the big milestones like weddings, graduations, bar mitzvahs or the birth of a child. But, maybe I’m just too neurotic for that to be the case. For me, those big events are always fraught with anxiety. Who will wake up with the plague the day of the big event because, let’s face it, you know someone will. Is everyone having fun at the party, even the scowling old people with the earplugs? Does everyone have the appropriate clothes? I mean, those pants fit him ten minutes ago. Can a teenage boy outgrow his clothes in a week?

I have found that my happiness comes in the small moments of joy that creep up on me during an ordinary day; that first sip of hot coffee on a cold morning and the morning telephone conversation with my daily callers to reconnect after the night. Then there are the moments that are purely sensory delights; the feel of the sun on your face after a long, grey winter, the sight of a beautiful sunset or the thrill of hearing your favorite song on the radio.

 [More About One Mom’s Sweet Spot of Parenting here.]

Other moments of joy can surprise you. There’s the moment that you realize you’ve made a connection with someone and your relationship with an acquaintance has deepened into a friendship. Recently, I ran into someone who told me that some long forgotten thing I said to her years ago gave her great comfort at the time. That was a joyful moment for me.

But, the purist moments of joy for me are seeing my children interacting with each other as adults. Big and middle shop together now, consult on fashion, talk about relationships and I think to myself, “You had a hand in this. You nurtured these brothers who are now capable of giving and receiving advice, support, encouragement and love.”

Milestone moments will come and go, together with their attendant stresses, but I stand here, waiting and hoping for more of the small stuff, more of those quiet moments of joy.


The First Twenty-Five Years are the Hardest 

Siblings Unrivaled 

Teenagers: I Want to Remember These Last Times  

About Helene Wingens

Helene Wingens has always been passionate about painting pictures with words. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in psychology and three years later from Boston University School of Law with a Juris Doctor. In a year long clerkship for an appellate judge Helene honed her writing skills by drafting weekly appellate memoranda. She practiced law until she practically perfected it and after taking a brief twenty year hiatus to raise her three children she began writing a personal blog Her essays have been published in: Scary Mommy, Kveller, The Forward, and Grown and Flown where she is Managing Editor. You can visit Helene's website here

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