Saturday, 9 March 2019

The Happy Meal Life

I took my son to McDonalds last week. His invariable meal choice whenever we go there is the famous ‘Happy Meal’, an assortment of junk food and drink with a toy attached. Needless to say, it is the toy that entices him to make his choice and I am happy to comply on the rare occasion we do visit the diner.

My son is not the only child who is magically lured to this ‘Happy’ meal and as I sat looking around me I could see other Happy Meal cartons dotting the whole of the place. Which prompted me to ask myself, why is the kids’ meal the ‘Happy’ meal?

We value our children and try to make them as happy as we can, within our limits that are usually brought about by our own upbringing, our own standard of living, our own big love for those we care about as well as the circumstances we find ourselves in. Children always come first. We give them priority, thrive on their joy and ensure they always get the best of what we can give them. Which is all well and good, human and proper.

However why is it that most of us don’t respect ourselves in the same way that we respect children? We deserve a Happy Meal too in my opinion?

We put our children to sleep early to ensure they get enough rest and are sharp during school hours but I know very few people who have disciplined themselves to get enough sleep in adulthood. Most of the time, adults have an ‘I have to do it all’ attitude. Have to? There is no ‘have to’ and in the long run we usually just end up physically sick till we have to deal with ourselves and give ourselves the rest our body and mind crave.

We tell our children to work hard in school to grow up to choose the career they want. Yet adults invariably get sucked into the 9-5 job to ‘make money’. What is money? It is the means to the lifestyle we want and not important in itself. (Read my Minimalism and the Economy article here: So why not, rather, have a job that makes us happy over the one presenting the bigger bucks or else not even that but just a safety net? I rather land on a slippery rainbow slide than a black safe boring safety net thank you very much.

We let our children play and drive them around to get them to their extra-curricular activities to get their fun. But are we getting enough fun? Do we allow ourselves the time and space to dream, take a class we enjoy, read that book or watch that film without guilt of ‘not having time’?

For a few weeks since the start of this year I had a boyfriend. Unfortunately things didn’t work out and we split after less than a month but it was one month where I had to share my time, answer texts, meet on the allotted day and time regardless of my mood and physical energy. It started to drain me though I wasn’t sure why. When we did split and I started embracing my single lifestyle again I noted how for all the time I was dating him I had given up on most of my meditation sessions, had had no time to read and was only watching films and series in his company, never alone, simply due to that I can only do so much in a day. I am sure that were it a relationship that was going to work I would have felt differently about it but the point here is that we should always give ourselves the time to do that which will make us better versions of ‘us’.

We notice things that drag us down and complain yet not change the situation if it is too daunting to do so. Sometimes I wish adults were allowed the temper tantrums that we expect and accept of children. ‘I don’t wanna’ is a familiar phrase in parenthood but it is never the parent saying those words.

What if we started ‘not wanting to’ do some things and actually accept that of ourselves? To the tired mama out there, it’s ok to not do it all. To the fathers juggling more than one job, it is ok to not give your children the latest new ‘fad’ toys. They might be craving your presence more than the so-called ‘Happiness boosters’ that keep getting advertised. To all of us including the non-parents, being an adult should not s**k.

My son’s favourite go-to when he is pissed off is to say it is not fair that he only gets to do all that he wants when he becomes an adult. Maybe he is right and we are wrong, and as adults, which should strive to do what makes us happy.

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