At first glance, 2014 doesn’t look so good.
My “Joy jar” is not even half full.
Inspired by Facebook and Pinterest friends at this time last year, I set aside this empty jar to be filled throughout the year with slips of paper on which would be recorded the year’s most joyful moments. At the end of the year, we were to launch ourselves positively into the New Year by reading and celebrating these saved excerpts of Joy from 2014.
I probably shouldn’t have chosen such a hugely tall jar.
I know it looks like I was being overly optimistic about the amount of Joy the past year would bring.
But really, to borrow a phrase from my dad (who once shared with me his rubric for testing the value of any work project), our “shit-to-fun ratio” is not terribly out of balance around here. Sure, we go through bad phases, and some of this parenting crap is really hard. But there are also surprising and pure snippets of Joy that, even for a moment, make all the shit seem less so.
So, my mistake in choosing such a large jar was not that there wouldn’t be enough Joy in 2014 to fill it. I was only being exceedingly optimistic about my ability to remember to write things down!
I am happy to report, though, that despite the dearth of material, there is an interesting pattern to the Joy I did remember to record. In addition to moments of meltdown-free amazement, successful family get-aways, and my husband’s unending ability to make me laugh, the vast majority of these quickly jotted memories involve my son’s still emerging voice. I simply feel joyful when I hear his words.
These little moments may not seem like much if you’ve never lived with someone who can’t reliably communicate his thoughts and feelings. But these rare small words and unexpected interactions are truly the stuff of Joy around here.
* The Joy jar recorded my amusement at the new way he had started repeatedly rolling around the sounds of the words “dis-gust-ing” and “de-li-cious”; a few days later, while making cookies, he leaned in to smell the batter and demonstrated his understanding of that new vocabulary. Yes, it does smell “de-li-cious.”
* On a Sunday morning, when presented with his usual choices for one of his seen-a-thousand-times DVDs to watch, he caused a brief mom-happy-dance by communicating a new desire: “football.”
* I overheard his speech therapist, sitting at the kitchen table with my son, coaching him through pronunciation drills. She said “purse.” He said, “puss.” She repeated slowly “purse,” and he repeated his version louder and slower. Then, he added (seemingly for clarification), “OctoPUS!”
* On the patio where we were staying for a brief summer vacation to escape the heat of our usual desert habitat, my son spontaneously blurted out “Jacket!” when it started to rain.
* My kid brought me some 80s-retro Joy when he unexpectedly enhanced his usual “soundscape” medley of movie clips and preschool-age songs with a perfect rendition of the chorus of “Rock the Casbah.”
* A few minutes after my failed attempt to get him to sing “Happy Birthday” in a video to send to his friend, my amazing child picked up my phone, opened the video app, and recorded himself all on his own.
I will very likely still forget to write them down, but I think I will keep this optimistically-large jar. You never know. Our Joy for 2015 might just fill it.
Happy Quirky New Year!