But since it is now winter and I don't spend every spare minute at the beach, I've had time to come up with a more thoughtful answer. So here it is.
Idealism: The practice of forming or pursuing ideals, esp. unrealistically: "the idealism of youth".
Some people expect it always to be sunny on holidays and get genuinely disappointed when it's overcast, or worse it rains. I guess I'm one such person. I am idealistic. About my marriage, friendships, religion and especially when it comes to parenting. You see, before my daughter was born I was adamant I was going to raise a TV free, sugar free, chemical free, perfectly behaved, and impeccably clean, sit-in-a-cafÃ©-for-an–hour-at-a-time child.
Of course all and sundry knew that my attempts would fail dismally. And I did fail. My cafÃ© outings can last no more than six and a half minutes, my daughter is always dirty and she definitely knows what sugar is. In fact, she loves sugar. And is now a very proud consumer of it - especially whilst watching T.V.
Discipline: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour
I'm permissive. Lenient. A big fat softy. I'm the type of person that gives myself a coffee and cake break every hour. I don't like discipline much at all really, in my own life or imposing it on someone else. My laissez-faire approach to life has become quite evident as I watch (or should I say chase?) my rambunctious daughter around the house. I simply can't deny I'm not great in the discipline department when I take my daughter to the library wearing her PJ's because I couldn't persuade her to wear clothes that day.
Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
So yes, parenting has helped me to realise many of my inadequacies. And I'm working on all of them. In the meantime I do have a bit of chaos in my life. But beneath the difficulties I face, I can honestly say that I have joy aplenty living with an endearing two year old.
I'm someone that usually walks too fast to notice autumn leaves ablaze with colour. I don't make the time to simply enjoy their prettiness. But parenting my daughter is teaching me to live in the moment and experience the simple joys of life. Like any other two year old, my daughter says and does so many little things that just delight my heart. Now when she does something adorable I'm learning to just stop whatever I am doing and enjoy her beauty.
Like the times I'm busy but then hear her singing along to my favourite music, so I stop what I'm doing and sing with her. Or the time she tilted her head to one side and asked 'Mummy, would you bring the moon down so I can play with it?' which resulted in an impromptu adventure around our neighbourhood to find the moon. She's teaching me not to rush through life and think obsessively about the future or past which I'm so prone to do. She teaches me to simply be and enjoy.
Hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had
Perhaps it's the great paradox of parenthood; we can be so filled with the joy that our children bring us, whilst simultaneously plucking out our hair in frustration at them.
My goodness, my two year old is demanding. At times I have even, jokingly I promise, called her a dictator. If she wants a banana, she must have a banana right now! And she will loudly and dramatically let the world know her displeasure if she doesn't get what she wants. At times my daughter's inherent lack of patience it tiring. Frustrating. Bewildering!
But slowly I am coming to view her lack of patience as a blessing in disguise. You see, a few years ago I read an article that explained how there's one tradition in Judaism that views children as still living in a primordial state of innocence. That is, in a sense they still inhabit the Garden of Eden.
And I think this way of viewing children is so true. Why is my daughter so impatient? Because ultimately she believes that the world is perfect. And if the world's perfect, it's reasonable for my child to assume all that is good in life should be materialised immediately.
Likewise, if the world is perfect, it's reasonable for her to expect life to be completely satisfying. And to believe that I will, and can, save her from all disease, pain and death. In her world Mummy and Daddy will always save her and never, ever leave her.
Of course my daughter's world is an illusion. She doesn't dwell in the Garden of Eden. And soon enough she will realise it.
The interesting thing is, as I live alongside my little girl who wholeheartedly believes in a perfect world, I've began to really think about this perfect world. My daughter's world is wonderful. I envy it a lot. Indeed, seeing my daughter live as if she's in that Garden of Eden creates a desire, an excitement, a longing in me for that serene world.
And that's why the Christian gospel is so amazing. Because the Bible says that God wants everyone to dwell in the marvellous Garden of Eden. Where 'he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away' (Revelation 21 verse 4).
Danielle Stott lives on the Gold Coast. She has a degree in Theology and has just started studying again, whilst she chases her two year old daughter around.
Danielle's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/d-and-d-stott.html