6 Ways to Be a Happier Mother

6 Ways to Be a Happier Mother

Why are so many mothers unhappy?

Over the past 30 years, thousands of mothers have made the pilgrimage to the hilltop Elon Moreh home of Rabbanit Esther Levanon in order to seek out her advice and wisdom. And after every such meeting, Rabbanit Levanon has secretly marked down the underlying reason for each mother’s suffering.

Through this informal tally, Rabbanit Levanon has discovered the 6 greatest causes of motherly misery. The resulting tips are Rabbanit Levanon’s “Backpack for a Good Life”:

1. Don’t just plan for the future. Enjoy the present!
So many of us are just counting the days until we finally arrive at our destination. We are waiting to finally get pregnant. We are waiting to finally give birth. We are waiting for the baby to finally start sleeping through the night. We are waiting for all our kids to finally be out of diapers/in school/married.

When we spend our whole lives just waiting for the future, then we are wasting our lives. Don’t just count the days until you reach your destination. Enjoy the journey!

Keep in mind the following poem:
“I was dying to finish elementary school.
And then I was dying to finish high school.
And then I was dying to graduate college.
And then I was dying to get married.
And then I was dying to have children.
And then I was dying to marry off my children.
And then I was dying to become a grandparent.

And then I died.
And I was sorry that I had never lived.”

2. Self-Made Suffering

Rabbanit Levanon’s father, Rabbi Borshtein zt”l, would often say that 95% of human suffering is self-made.

Rabbanit Levanon gave us the example of a 4th grade teacher who desperately wanted to be transferred to teaching 8th grade. This teacher made every effort possible, but in the end the principal assigned her to the 4th grade yet again. That teacher spent the following school year deeply resentful and depressed. She suffered, her family suffered, and her students suffered.

Why was the teacher so distressed? Because she was unable to accept reality. When Hashem presents us with a reality, Rabbanit Levanon explained, and there is nothing else we can do to change it, then our job is to accept that reality and to be happy with what Hashem has given us.

We need to be like an archer who shoots his arrow into the tree, and then paint the bullseye around the arrow afterwards. We need to convert every unchangeable aspect of our lives into a perfect bulls eye.

3. “My heart is in the East and I am in the West”

We mothers are miserable because we are torn.

We are at home and thinking about work. We are at work and thinking about home.

When you are home, be fully focused and enjoying your home. When you are at work, be fully focused and enjoying your work.

When we are feeling guilty and torn, we end up doing everything in our lives poorly. Whatever you are doing, where ever you are, be there. Stop feeling guilty. Be present.

4. Don’t make choices because of peer pressure

You are a stay-home mother because that’s what “everybody” does. You are a working mother because that’s what “everybody” does.
You decide to become a teacher because that’s what “everybody” does.

If we would stop making choices by looking around at what “everybody” else is doing and start looking instead into our own conscious and heart, then the world would be a much better place for everybody.

5. The Car is meant to serve you, and not the Other Way Around

Husband and wife are working overtime to pay for the fancy car, the fancy house, the fancy vacations, the fancy clothing, the fancy everything. In the end, we become servants to our possessions, and not the other way around.

Simplify so that you can focus on what’s truly important to you.

6. Be You!

One husband was married to a teacher who would prepare her classes in the evening when she was already very tired. For years, the husband would pressure his wife to go to sleep early and prepare her classes in the middle of the night instead. The husband wanted what was best for his wife. He wanted her to be well-rested and happy.

But the wife knew what was best for her. She knew that it was best for her to prepare her classes in the evening and get an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

When you are doing what’s best for you, it will be better for you and for the whole world.

Or, as a wise woman once said, “Do what will make you happy. Then at least one person will be happy…”

*Based on the class “Tarmilon l’Chaim Tovim” presented by Rabbanit Esther Levanon at Binyan Shalem 2011

Related posts:

The Angel of Sloan-Kettering
The 80/20 Rule (12-Minute Mommy Peptalk Video)
Gilad She'ar's Final Diary

2 comments

  1. “Do what will make you happy. Then at least one person will be happy…”

    Brilliant!

  2. i think rebetzin levanon has discovered some very important advice: just be honest and true to yourself, and the rest will fall into place.
    there is a story about reb zusha from anipole where he was asked what he would say about himself when he finally faced the Beis Din Shel Maalah. He answered, “If i am asked why wasn’t i as great as Avraham Avinu, i can say i am not Avraham. If i am asked why i didn’t know Torah as well as Moshe Rabeinu, i can say i am not Moshe. but when they ask if i was the best zushe i could be….”
    in other words, Hashem matches up our neshama with this particular body and place; it is up to us to make the best “me” we can possibly be from that combination.

Leave a Reply