Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I’m a writer so it’s not surprising that I love words. I love how they look and sound and how they feel in my mouth. I have favorite words – like juxtaposition, simplicity and whimsy. And then there are other words -- like phlegm and noxious – of which I’m not a fan. I am a connoisseur of words. I like to ponder their meaning and the shades of meaning that separate two words that, at first glance, seem to mean nearly the same thing.

I heard a snippet on the radio early this year that led me down a long and pondering road. It was a discussion about New Year’s resolutions and their useful/uselessness. I’m not necessarily a proponent of these resolutions, coming as they do at a time of high stress and low sunshine. As I wrote in my first post, HAPPY NEW YEAR, for me birthdays are a better time to assess and set goals. But that’s just me.

Anyway, the talking head on the radio (and I apologize for having major mom brain – I don’t know who it was or even what station I was listening to, but I don’t think that’s important here) was proposing that instead of making resolutions, women should resolve to be content.

                Content (adj.) – satisfied with what one has; not wanting more or anything else.

My first reaction was, “Amen to that.” I am a big believer in contentment. I would call it one of my core values. I strive to practice contentment in my own life as well as teach my children what it means to be content. I believe that being content with who you are is the single biggest determining factor in whether a person can be truly happy. Not wealth, not stuff, not even love. Contentment. See earlier post here MY MOTHER IS ALWAYS RIGHT

So it was a little weird for me when the voice in my head said, “Wait a minute.” Suddenly choosing contentment over resolutions felt like it might be a copout. And it was because of a word that is a cousin of content, but whose meaning is quite different. That word is complacent.

                Complacent (adj.) - pleased, especially with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied.

For me, being content means a feeling of satisfaction that comes from a place of knowledge. Being complacent means having a feeling of satisfaction that comes from a place of some level of ignorance – be it blissful or not. In my own experience, this ignorance usually takes the form of turning a blind eye or ear.

For instance, when my weight was where I didn’t want it to be after having three babies back to back to back, it was easier to tell myself that I looked pretty good for having had three kids in three years all after the age of 36. That was easier than saying, “Hey, enough with the ice cream, watch what you eat and get your butt moving.”

Once I did – once I dug down deep and did the work and saw the results, I found contentment. Not contentment born out of finally looking like a cover model. Shockingly, that was not the result of my hard work J Rather contentment with what fit and healthy looks like on me – all 42 years of me. And when I felt myself getting a little lazy this past winter, when the stress of everyday life as a full-time mom and a snatches-of-time author were catching up with me, it was time for a stern talking to. Complacent isn’t good enough. I want content – and content takes work.

Content doesn’t mean not working toward continuous improvement.

I’m content with my marriage and my husband (truth is I’m over the moon crazy about the man), but without the daily work to stay strong and connected, content could slide toward complacent pretty easily. And I don’t want to think about what comes after complacent.

I’m content with my life as a mommy. Who am I kidding, I flat-out LOVE my life as a mommy. But I am – painfully – aware of my shortcomings. Like say, patience and speaking in a calm and loving voice while disciplining. I've discussed both shortcomings - here THEY DON'T SELL PATIENCE AT TARGET  and here DISCIPLINE AND KITCHEN UTENSILS. I vow to my beans to never become complacent in my role as their mommy. I will always try to be better and to do better. I know I’ll never be the mom they truly deserve, but I’ll never stop trying. And I’ll never stop believing that just as I am blessed and lucky to have them,  they are blessed and lucky to have me, too – warts and all.

So contentment – yes and always! Contentment to me feels like drinking a big cup of cocoa with marshmallows while wrapped up in a warm blanket on a chilly evening. For you, it might look like a glass of red wine and candlelight. I'm just not that sophisticated. Complacency feels like schlepping around in baggy yoga pants with my unwashed hair in a knot. It’s okay some of the time, but not the best look for everyday J

This lover of words – this self-admitted word nerd --  wishes you all contentment – in who you are, in what you have, and in where you are in your lives.                                                       


  1. LOL....love this, and I'll point out another *shade* of this wordplay: as I was reading this blog post, I kept hearing the word "CONtent" (which is *not* what you meant) in place of the word "conTENT" (which is what you referred to.) So try reading your own post with me, substituting "CONtent" for "conTENT" and see what shades of meaning you'll find then. ;-)

    But your observations, as usual, are spot on. Great post.

    1. I actually did think about specifying which syllable to accent :)
      Thanks for the laugh and the kind words!

  2. Love this! And like you, I'm a lover of words. I also constantly question which am I - content or complacent? When content, all's ok. When complacent, I've got work to do!