My 4-Year-Old Knew More Than I Did About Happiness at Work

“I’m 4 and old!” She said as she dragged the Frozen balloon her dad left in front of her bedroom door. Wait till you’re 36 and your body parts randomly give up on you, I thought.

Just as she’s done for three straight weeks now, my daughter barged unceremoniously into our bedroom at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. Today, though, she walked in with more pomp and circumstance. Today is her birthday, after all.

Now, my daughter has a pretty good grasp on abstract ideas, possibly because we don’t really filter a lot out when we talk to her. Very rarely, if ever, did we have to “dumb down” our answers to her questions.

We haven’t really shielded her from a lot of stuff. She knows about death. She knows about bad guys in the world. She knows that her aunt loves her girlfriend the same way her mom loves her dad. She knows that something’s wrong when a child is out in the streets without a parent around. She even knows that primary elections are a waste of time but we do our civic duty anyway.

So last week at bedtime, I tried to tell her about how unhappy I was at work. She asked me why I was sad, and before I could even answer, she said, “You have to find work that makes you happy.”

Over her birthday dinner, she even recalled our conversation. “Did you have a great day at work, mom? Have you found work that makes you happy yet?” She asked as she tried to color a mushroom inside the lines. I was floored by her recall, but mostly by her concern for my well-being at such a young age.

Right then, I knew. Never mind that I feel lost. Never mind that I feel scared. Never mind that I was still grieving over an aunt I didn’t get to give a proper goodbye to. I’m in control of this part of your life. If I’m miserable, I need to seek out what will make me happy. I had a moment of clarity, and I had my daughter to thank for that.

There are days where she’s so irrational, like when she cries because I apparently misheard her when she said she wanted popcorn shrimp and not mac and cheese. And then there are days that she floors me with how much sense she makes.

And this is why no matter how much raising a child is the farthest thing from a walk in the park, I’d always tell people that they should absolutely become parents. That’s if they feel like they’re cut out for questioning their sanity at least once a day.

Because despite the mishmash of poopy diapers, unwarranted meltdowns, and a never-ending battle of wills, there are shining moments. And those shining moments, however fleeting, shine so brightly that you forget everything else.