On Happiness from Within

I posted a link to this video on my Facebook page Thursday afternoon, and as of writing this post on Thursday night, it has ONE like and zero comments. My BFF who just had a baby in June was the only like.

Here is what I wrote as a caption on the post: This resonates with my mind and my heart on so many levels. We shouldn’t always look to our children our or spouses or our workworkers or to our friends to find happiness. We shouldn’t put that burden on them. It will never work in the long run. We need to find happiness from within, and the happier and more fulfilled we are as an individual instead of just as a mother/wife/friend/whatever, the happier and more fulfilled those around us will be as well.

It is SO interesting to me that this post was such a dud on my social media. I mean, I post a pic of my kid in the garden and can get a gazillion “likes,” yet this video (which I found to be totally fantastic) was almost completely ignored. Now I’m stuck vacillating between two thoughts:

Did I post it at a weird time and people didn’t see it?


Am I alone in identifying with the video and its message?

What do you think?

I know this is controversial. I get it. I know many women pour their hearts and souls into their children, who are happy never leaving them for any length of time because their children are their focus in life, and who never want to go out on date nights or girls’ weekends or wedding trips away because that would mean leaving home and children. We all parent differently, and I respect that.

Here’s the thing though – does that respect about parenting styles go both ways?

I am a great mother. I feel like I pour my heart and soul into my kids. I also truly can’t imagine never feeling comfortable leaving my kids.Β I would be so unhappy if I always had toΒ give all of myself to them and save nothing for myself. I know that I would be miserable if I never had a date night with Charlie or drinks with girl friends or workout time by myself. I fully embrace that there are times (like infancy or sickness or times of great change) where the balance is tipped and your child might need you 110% for awhile, but as a long term way of living my life? There’s no way.

As Jada Pinkett-Smith said (you should really listen to this entire video, but especially starting around the 3:30 mark), “…you always have to remember to take care of you, first and foremost, because when you quit taking care of yourself, you get out of balance, and you really forget how to take care of others. And I think that we’ve been taught that taking care of yourself is a problem. And I’ll tell you something about being a mother and some of the message we get in this country about being a mother – that you have to completely sacrifice everything…you have to completely sacrifice every single thing. And I think that the re-messaging that we as mothers need to have and gravitate to is that you have to take care of yourself in order to have the alignment and the power to take care of others at the capacity that we do.”




  1. Have you posted videos before that got a lot of likes? I’m mostly at my computer during the day at work, making it hard to look at videos without being conspicuous. As a result, I rarely look at any video anyone posts ever. So it could just be that people didn’t have time to watch it when you posted it and never remembered to go back to it. For what it’s worth, I agree with you and Jada.

    1. True, I rarely post videos, so I hadn’t really thought about the work facet (even though it’s the exact same issue for me – super hard to watch a video at work!).

  2. So I see EVERYTHING you post on FB, but this video did not show up in my feed. I would have looked at it.

    I agree with the sentiment – I am counting down the years (ugh) until I can go back to work part-time just so there is something else that NEEDS me besides my kids. I love being with them, but I am sort of losing my mind these last few weeks before school starts (like you, it starts the day after Labor Day – and there are no more camps to buffer the time).

    This viewpoint is not welcomed in general mom/parenting groups, it seems. Too many people throw ALL of themselves into their kids and then end up unrecognizable to themselves, their friends, and their spouses. I laugh because when I just had Matthew, I felt NO NEED for a break – like NEVER. But now with two, and the screaming and fighting that they do… I need a break every damn day! It’s why I’m so in shape – the running is my excuse to ALWAYS get a break.

    1. Having just finished the video – yeah – spot on. Especially the pointing at the “YOU’s” in your life. I love that she was talking to her own child – powerful. Not just lip-service when she’s directing it at her own daughter as a life lesson.

      1. Yep! Like I mentioned, I get that not everyone wants or needs a break, but for me, that run in the morning or drink after work or date night with Charlie on the weekend is NECESSARY for my mental health, even though I already have 36 hrs/week that I’m at work and not with my kids. We are all so different, it’s just hard for me to imagine feeling differently than I do. πŸ™‚

  3. sangela71 · · Reply

    I’m not friends with you on Facebook, so this post is my first time seeing the video. I will say that my experience in posting similar things is that not many people take the time to read or watch anything that will take more than a minute or two.

    FWIW, I agree with Jada 100% but think Courtney is right that this sentiment is an unpopular one with a lot of mothers. Selflessness is an entrenched part of our culture for mothers.

    1. Yeah, good point. I feel like Facebook is becoming more like Twitter – people have such short attention spans for anything anymore.

      I don’t feel like selflessness is a bad thing at all, but I do think it’s preached as the only “right” way to parent a lot of the time!

  4. I saw this video on someone else’s page…I only made it 30 seconds…I don’t like Ja|)a! I think she talks Ina condescending manner! 😁 so I wouldn’t have liked it…
    But the lack of likes probably came from bad timing!
    I agree with the message though! 😊

    1. Yeah, I’m realizing that most of my FB friends either never saw it or couldn’t watch it at work. I so don’t understand Facebook’s algorithms for what they show to your friends.

  5. I think some of the silence has to be attributed to 1) facebook selectively showing people things and 2) people don’t always watch videos. Like Courtney, I usually see your posts and did not see this one. I do identify with the message though πŸ™‚

    1. Yeah, I wondered if FB even put it on people’s timelines. I don’t understand their algorithms!

  6. Here’s my unpopular opinion… I am not interested in consuming any more messaging on what women need to do to be “happy”. No matter what, it leaves me feeling anxious and empty, even when I agree with the message….likely because I can also identify with the opposing message. I think most women (mother or not, working or not) struggle with the conflicting messages of needing to put others first and also put yourself first. Of needing to be both excellent caretakers of everyone and everything, but especially yourself. It’s a lot of “shoulds”.

    For me, it is an internal conflict that usually results in guilt. If I express parenting frustrations, the response is usually that I need to take better care of myself. I am aware that we process these messages differently, and discussing how they manifest in everyday life with people we trust is more important. So I appreciate this post in that sense. (And I think you know how much I have struggled with this tug of war between internal and external expectations.). We each need to strike a balance in the ever-shifting sand of daily life to feel safe, content, and satisfied. I don’t know how to do that for myself…not sure if anyone does (for anyone else, I mean).

    *I didn’t watch the video though. I rarely do. Doesn’t mean I am not open to conversation about it’s topic (or have a dog in the fight), just not my thing.

    1. I couldn’t stop thinking about this post during my workout just now, particularly about this quote from JPS that you posted above:

      “And I think that the re-messaging that we as mothers need to have and gravitate to is that you have to take care of yourself in order to have the alignment and the power to take care of others at the capacity that we do.”

      I think what bothers me is the cultural message to women that you have to take better care of yourself so that you can take better care of others. I would like to see it shift simply to “Take care of yourself.” Period. No qualifiers.

      1. I obviously don’t know for sure, but I think she qualified it like that because she was talking to her child in the clip! I wholeheartedly agree with you though. I’ll be home in a bit and will reply to other comments more thoroughly then.

    2. My Mom and I talked about this a bit this morning. It’s interesting how our culture expects SO much of women (mother or not, working or not, like you said) and is always urging them to ‘find the balance’ or whatever, but so little is expected of men. You’d never seen a video urging men to remember to put themselves first (because I think most men have no problem doing that, and I don’t mean that in a rude way, more in a jealous way)… and if they choose to be SAHDs, that’s equally judged by many people. I know a few really fantastic stay at home dads, and it’s ridiculous how much heat they take for it. The SAHDs I know first hand seem to have an eaiser time striking that balance though. It’s interesting.

      1. I have just seen this post and will reply later on to it, but as I saw this, I couldn’t skip it. That attitude of men seems to be all around the world. Their efforts seem to be more appreciated whereas women’s are considered to be normal and expected.

  7. mcmissis · · Reply

    I thought this post was going to go in a different direction. As for the direction you went in the beginning, I think the biggest part of it, BY FAR, is that it’s a video and a long one. People on fb really just don’t watch videos anywhere near as much as look at pics posted. I willing to bet if you made a graphic with your favorite sentence from this and posted it to your wall, you’d get likes. It’s funny someone above said they couldn’t watch it bc they were at work bc for me, it’s the same, but my “work” means at home. I don’t want any videos at all when the girls are awake bc they just want to watch them with me. I’d rather have them keep playing (or fighting even) than watch some random video on fb, and with it been such a long one, I couldn’t just sneak off and watch it when they were looking.

    I actually did remember it this morning and went back to your page to watch it while I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth. I thought about “liking” it, just show my support to you that I watched it, but ended up not bc I don’t have the same mindset as you on it. We both know this. We’ve both been shown time after time that we are different in this way (as with MANY aspects of parenting, yet we still get along swimmingly.)

    I am one of those moms who doesn’t feel comfortable leaving their kids for a greater length of time. And I feel BAD about it. I feel like I’m constantly being pressured and looked down upon for how I feel about this. By people IRL and URL. It’s a big worry of mine about someday going back to work, that it will be SIGNIFICANTLY worse since I’ll be spending so much more time away from them. I’m assuming it won’t be that way bc naturally as they grow older, I feel more at ease leaving them, but it’s still something I think about a lot.

    All in all, I truly don’t think it didn’t get the attention you expected bc people didn’t agree with the sentiment. It has way more to do with the fact that people are too impatient and/or busy to watch a long video on fb. I think it was the medium, not the message.

    1. I have to respond to this because I furiously found myself nodding my head. When Matthew was young, EVERYONE kept telling me that I needed a break from him, and to take a girls weekend. Friends still tell me I need more breaks now with the two kids, and I get so upset with them when they do. I will decide when and if I need a break, and when I do, I will decide HOW I take that break. We don’t all need to leave our kids for an extended time to a) get a break or b) show that we’re taking care of ourselves. The pressure from others to take care of ourselves as they see fit is unreal. All I need is a quiet run ALONE, thank you very much.


      1. Heather · · Reply

        I totally agree with Courtney. So many friends keep telling me I need a break from the boys too and I despise it. I know when I need a break, and I will schedule one accordingly. I also agree with what you said earlier Josey, about how it’s a bit of a cultural thing. My mom was a SAHM, and sacrificed everything for us kids growing up. She poured herself into giving us kids everything, and I find I am very similar to that now that I have kiddos of my own.
        Several friends always comment on how I need to let “D put Callen to bed” so we can go out, but that’s just something I am not comfortable with. Callen has only once been put to bed by D, and it went really rough at 4 months, so we haven’t tried again. I am 100% ok with putting him down for nap and bed on my own. I love it actually and it works for me. I fought hard to breastfeed him and at almost 2 years, we are still nursing to sleep!

        I get a little upset when people tell me what I *should* do in terms of myself and my kids. I can decide for myself, and I wish letting mom’s have their own choices was more supported. It’s ok to do things differently, there isn’t just one way to parent!

        I look at it differently too, because I have wanted to be a SAHM my whole life. Leaving teaching didn’t really affect me, I was so excited to be able to stay home with Aiden and I plan to until my kiddos are in at least Kindergarten. I feel fulfilled and very happy giving 100% of myself to my boys. When I need a break, I take it, I just do things or go on dates after I get Callen to bed. I really am a homebody and like being home with my family.

        I was thinking back, and I remember only being away from Aiden one overnight when I ran a 5K, and then one night when Callen was born. That’s the most I’ve ever been apart from my boys. That doesn’t mean I don’t take care of myself though or give myself a break to relax/unwind.
        I take care of myself by having a glass of wine in the backyard with friends, I am home so I can put Callen to bed and then spend more time with them, (helps that Callen is the youngest kiddo out of our group, so we almost always hang out at my house so he can go to bed here), I like to watch shows on TV with D, or sometimes we get a babysitter and go out for dinner after Callen’s in bed at 8. I don’t mind, it works for us! I know this is temporary, and someday I will get myself back and have all the “me” time I want, but this works for me now!

        Letting moms have the choice to decide what makes them happy and rejuvenated is so important. I say, whatever works for you and your family is awesome!

    2. Yep, you’re one of the people I was thinking of when I said I know mothers who feel completely differently than me on this and it works for them! I like that you and I can be very different types of parents and people and still get along swimmingly, like you said. πŸ™‚ I wish you didn’t feel judged for being with your kids so much – you’re a fantastic Mom!

  8. I truly must’ve missed this on FB because I never saw it until now!

    But, yes, this absolutely resonates with me! In fact, I sort of equate this to putting your marriage before your kids. Without a happy, strong marriage, your kids will suffer and so will you and your spouse. For your children to see that Mom and Dad love one another, watch each others’ backs, care for one another, I think, is SO crucial to a strong family unit.

    On the taking care of yourself part–ahhh, I do find myself putting my needs behind my kids. BUT I do not rely on my kids or my husband or anyone else to make me happy. I can say that without hesitation.

    1. Yep! I’m trying really hard to spend more quality time with Charlie so that we can model a healthy, loving relationship to our kids.

  9. mcmissis · · Reply

    Also, we’ve been talking A LOT about happiness coming from within this week in our house and I have a post floating around in my head about it, but not the quiet time to fully write about it in the way it deserves. After reading Shannon’s anniversary letter to her husband, it made me remember McMister and I were fighting around the time she wrote it last year, too, and it feels like most years when she writes it. So, I think, at least for us, the end of the summer is just a weird time for happiness and contentment in our family/lives. Maybe it is for others as well and that’s why things like this are getting attention and/or a perceived lack of attention.

    1. That’s an important thing to recognize about your relationship, because maybe next year you can make a concerted effort to have that not be the pattern this time of year (or at least give each other more grace if that’s just the way it’s going to be in August!).

  10. I’m sneaking this is at work. Pardon the jumble and random thoughts as I type as fast as I can. People have nagged me from the moment I brought my daughter home about taking breaks. I used to get a lot more of them when I had a partner. I used to go once every couple of weeks for a pedicure or a massage or acupuncture. I took at least an hour for me a week. I used to take my work as time for me. I’m good at my job and I love playing a part in some amazing people’s lives. I would much rather be home with my kids all the time. I was brought up with a mom who was always there. I was never in daycare. My mom took her time when she needed it. I don’t have a lot of IRL friends who do girl weekends. I don’t think I have ever done a “girl weekend” in my life, regardless of kids. I have never in my life put myself first. My problems and issues seem so small and insignificant that I always put others ahead of me. I have so much to say…I will likely post my own thoughts more clearly and well thought out. Would you mind if I link/ping back whatever to this? This is definitely something to talk about….

    1. I don’t think everyone needs a girls’ weekend to be happy, but I do think most everyone needs a little them time… a good book, a nice run, a whatever. Definitely write your own post – I’d love to read more about your thoughts on this! <3 (and feel free to link back)

  11. I honestly cannot watch a movie on FB that requires I hear the sound. A movie of a cat attacking it’s own reflection? Sure! A movie that requires I sit in a quiet place and really listen? I just am never on FB with that kind of time/space. So maybe that is why it didn’t get likes? Maybe it has nothing to do with the message and everything to do with it being a video you actually have to watch with the sound on.

    I absolutely agree with you, but I also have a kid who is especially challenging and isn’t actually much fun to be around. She siphons from my cup constantly and her cup is a sieve, so learned early on that I need to do A LOT for me so that I can be even a fraction of what she needs me to be for her. So yeah, I’m all about taking the time to take care of yourself. And I’m REALLY lucky that I have support systems in place here that I can take advantage of to do that.

    1. LMAO. Oh man, your comment made me bust up. Next time I’ll start the clip with a video of a cat. πŸ˜‰

      I’m glad you have those support systems as well!!

  12. Beautifully stated, Jos. I think the danger in forgetting to or neglecting to take care of our self is that when the kids/husband/friend/whoever doesn’t need us anymore (which is INEVITABLE), then what? What are we left with? Our self. And if our self is neglected, we’re screwed.

    1. THIS!

  13. For your fact finding πŸ˜‰ – I did see you post it- so yay to me seeing your posts. I didn’t have time to watch a clip with sound and then forgot about it. πŸ™

    1. You? Busy? Never….;-)

  14. I was watching it but it draggggged and I was like come on already!

  15. You know you’ve written a good blog post when you get such a thoughtful conversation started amongst your readers! I’m loving it πŸ™‚ And I have my own opinions as well, so I’m going to blog about it and link back to you! But in a nutshell – there’s just so much “advice” out there for moms. There’s virtually no advice for dads. And as other commenters said, the more advice I read, the more anxious I feel that I’m not doing it right, even if I’m happy.

  16. […] still read many former infertility blogs. Jos, from My Cheap Version of Therapy wrote a fabulous post that quickly got her readers talking. Instead of writing my own giant response, I thought I’d […]

  17. I saw it when you posted on FB and about 30 seconds in I got the uncomfortable feeling that I often get when celebs start trending online to push the “next big idea” so as to launch them back into the spotlight. Can’t do it & couldn’t like it no matter the message! I am and always have been a firm believer of do whatever the hell makes you happy and screw everyone else πŸ™‚ I hate seeing women continually telling other women when, where, how etc to behave, act, & do when it comes to personal health & happiness. I think if more people just had each other’s backs in life we’d all be doing better <3

  18. I saw it, but I too don’t watch videos much that are posted. I am seriously slacking on blogs/Facebook lately now that my office has moved. πŸ™ But at least from what you wrote about, I have realized I am just coming out of my shell as a “social mom” I think. I feel like my kids are finally to that age where I don’t need to be with them 100% of the time (aside from work of course), and I don’t feel awful leaving them for a few hours to go hang out with friends. I still need to work on carving out time for JJ and I, but I’m doing better with saying “I am going to get a pedicure, or I’m going to a friend’s house tonight” than ever before. And it feels damn good.

Leave a Reply