As a parent, I sometimes hear myself as though I was another person and…pretty much want to slap myself right upside the head. It’s kind of like in cartoons where you see a “spirit” pull out of the character’s body for whatever reason, and then eventually pop back into “oneness.” When I pop back into myself, I am sometimes able to shift gears from Naginator back to mom. This is a good thing.
So it was the other day, when my son’s tone and attitude was…less than ideal. Once I silenced the Naginator, I tried to get him to see that he has power in his life right now to be amazing. He doesn’t have to feel like he is a powerless kid. He doesn’t have to wait until he someday has a job. He doesn’t need to find the cure for cancer (though that would be damn nice).
He just has to let his loving heart shine. Be the kind, caring person that he already is. Let that grow and flourish. That makes him amazing. And all the power resides within him to be that kind of amazing right now.
My aim was to galvanize him to know that he is a great kid (something that nagging can strip away) and that he has choices to make now that reinforce what an amazing person he already is. (And is there’s the fringe benefit of his lessening his level of knuckleheadedness on any given day…well, that’s fine, too…)
When I say those types of things to him, I say them as a mom who is looking at the part of my heart that is living and breathing outside of myself. I want him to drink in my words and let them sink into his soul. I want him to feel the profound love I have for him and believe what I am telling him.
But what about me?
Sometimes as a mom I “preach” something that I need to believe myself. This was one of those times.
On countless occasions, I’ve told people never to refer to themselves as “just.” Just a stay at home mom. Just a student. Just a waitress. Just an assistant. Just a whatever. Beginning with “You’re not a ‘just’ anything!” I want them to see how they are significant “just” the way they are. It’s something I believe with my whole heart.
Then it became something I had to face myself.
So…what do you do? I am a video production assistant. I am a high school English teacher. I am a communication director. I am a web director. I am…
Until I was unemployed, I never had to face how much I assessed my work as my worth and identity.
What am I if I am not earning?
Wow. Talk about having to face some personal hypocrisy.
How is it that I can tell other people—particularly stay at home parents—that they are not “just” anything and then walk in those shoes and feel like I have JUST stamped across my forehead? Which is the truth? Are there two truths? One for others and one for me?
I must admit, that’s pretty much how it plays out in my head. I wholeheartedly believe for others what I don’t believe for myself. Or was it simply easier to believe for others when I had my own work to define my value? It was—is—a hard-to-face reality. A personal paradox that is anything but helpful to me.
I’ve written all my life, but when I decided to make it the thing I do, well…cue the identity crisis.
What do you do? I am a writer.
What? How much money needs to be made before I believe that? How many gigs? Why does that even matter?
What about those words I gave voice to so that my son would embrace his innate value? If I believe them for him, why aren’t they true for me?
These questions have been hard for me to answer, but I’m working on it. I must reconcile what I say to who I am. So far, it’s been a complicated journey to figure out what it is that I really value about myself. It’s almost like God forced my hand so that I can eventually walk the walk and not merely talk the talk.
God is so funny like that…pushing me into places I don’t want to go so that I can discover truths that I cavalierly thought I had already figured out. So funny, that one…
I recently became better validated as a writer in my eyes due to a very serendipitous connection with an awesome company, and I now have steady work. A Godsend, truly, for which I am very grateful.
But I am not giving up on seeking the answers to those questions. Now that I know that they exist, I can’t ignore them just because the scenario has changed.
I want to be the mom who tells her son that he is amazing knowing that she deep down believes she is amazing, too. Anything less, and God might need to push me out of yet another nest…and I’m still barely learning to fly from the last time!