Parenting in a Pandemic: But Are You Really Happy?

Question

Our son does something at the breakfast table, each morning, that started off funny, but then got kind of, well, difficult:

Jack: Dad, how you doing?

Dad: I’m good buddy, how are you?

Jack: Mama, how you doing?

Mom: Pretty good, thanks for asking!

Jack: Dad, how you doing?

Dad: Uh, I’m good man.  How’s things?

Jack: Mama, how you doing?

Mom: Jack, I’m okay.  How are you?

Jack: Dad, how you… (This repeats 3-5 more times)

It’s super sweet when Jack asks the question once, or maybe twice, but when that same question is repeated, over and over, it becomes difficult to take….  Even though it’s a really important question.  A loving question.  A question that touches your soul.

I think part of the reason that repeated question annoys, is that if we answer honestly, we would say:

“I’m way more tired than I expected to be.”

“I’m very concerned for our nation.”

“I’d really like to be able to see your Grandparents, in person, but I can’t.”

“I wonder how the economic downturn, is going to affect us as a family.”

And so on.

The times we are living in, are very difficult.  They are also revealing what was already there, in our lives, under the surface.  And I suspect that this is true for many married couples: Life scrunched together, with so much happening outside of our control, has prompted this question: “Am I – are we – really happy?”

“Are you really happy?  Are we really happy, together?”  The happiness question has been with us long before COVID-19, but we might be asking it with more urgency, now.  Kind of like Jack, at the breakfast table, repeating the same question over and over…

But I want to suggest this: You – and your marriage – cannot stand the weight of constant happiness-interrogation.  If you’re constantly asking yourself, or you and your spouse are constantly asking one another, about your “happiness”, you’ll either be setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations, or submitting to a kind of tyranny that will drive you to despair, and put your marriage in danger.

This strange, difficult time is revealing to us who we are, and what our world is.

The Bible speaks frankly, and disarmingly, about how much happiness we can expect from one another, and from the world:

  • It says that each of us is deeply imperfect and in need of grace, and therefore taking our “happiness” temperature, constantly, is going to yield – at best – mixed results.
  • It says that this world is not our home, and to expect it to be our perfect, happy place, will inevitably disappoint, and sometimes will make us tyrants who are determined to get everything and everyone out of the way in our quest to be “happy”.

Those are the frank words the Bible speaks about us and our world.  Here is the word it speaks about the good news of leaving “happiness” hunting behind:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

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You can read the previous posts about “Parenting in a Pandemic”, here.

Have you started a business?  Are you trying to keep one afloat?  You might find this series on starting a church in a Pandemic, helpful.

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Please join us – Foundation Presbyterian Church – for worship, in-person, Sunday, 10:30am at the Northwest Family YMCA, or online: Facebook | YouTube

We also have this, every Wednesday, for 10 minutes at 10:00am: “At Home with the Rev”. We are learning about prayer, for the next few weeks: “What is it?  How do we do it?”

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2 thoughts on “Parenting in a Pandemic: But Are You Really Happy?

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