Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mama, are you happy?

I get asked this question every day, several times a day. By my three year old. It is unnerving, but it also serves as an interesting check-in.

He asks it if he senses anger or irritation or sadness in me. Rarely does he ask it when I am actually in a moment of joy. It makes me pause every time he asks, because I'm never quite sure how to answer. I don't think he means it in a general sense. He means it in the moment, the only thing that exists for a three year old. And usually when he asks, I am not particularly happy in that moment. I hate to tell him that: "No, I'm not happy" because he seems to take it personally. He's told me, tearfully: "Mama, I just want you to be happy!"

That absolutely breaks my heart.  It is too much for a three year old to be concerned with his mother's happiness. I start to worry that this last year, which has been such a struggle for me mentally and emotionally, has somehow had an effect on him. And really, how could it not? We spend all of our time together. He's seen me at my absolute lowest. I just hope I can minimize the damage, or at least give him some perspective.

So, when he asks me "Mama, are you happy?" I try to let him know that what I'm feeling is my own, and not his, burden to carry. I tell him that I'm tired, or that I'm frustrated because or that I just need to get out of the house. Aedan constantly asking me to examine my mental state helps me to not completely lose it. It reminds me to examine what's going on in my head, to look at the reason behind why I am reacting the way that I am. It holds me accountable.

I do love the times when I can tell him, honestly, that yes, I am happy. And when I ask him the same question, his standard answer always makes me laugh:

"Aedan, are you happy?"
"I am just a little bit sad because I lost my t-rex."

(It's taking him a long time to get over that one.)

Some days it drives me crazy, the constant asking of that question, but at the same time, I've come to be so grateful for it. He really is my little guru.


  1. A wonderful post Tara, children are so amazing at keeping us grounded and giving us a different perspective on things.

    1. Thank you. They certainly are amazing little people!

  2. My oldest often asks me similar questions and often I feel torn between telling the truth (no, not just now) or between protecting him. I guess he knows anyway. He is 13 and I remember this age to be difficult and I don't want to burden him but at the same time, I don't think it is fair to shield him from my own worries. He is more likely to come and talk to me about his own worries if he knows I have some, too. I hope. Your wee boy sounds just like the loveliest person ever, so very much concerned about his mama. Have a lovely weekend. x

    1. Christina, it sounds like your son is sensitive and thoughtful. I think you're right that they are more likely to open up to us if we're honest about our own feelings.

      Thank you for visiting!


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