Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Humble Pie

Tonight, while tucking A into bed, she told me, "You are the best mama in the world." Not one to take a compliment well, I challenged her. "How do you know? How many other mothers have you had?" She said, "Just because I think you are. (pause for dramatic affect) No, I know you are."

Now, I know I am not the best mother in the world, far from it. But I do know that I am trying to be the best mother I can be to my girls. So, to have, in the span of one day, someone tell me their daughter calls her a "mean mom" and my daughter tell me I was the best, was quite a ride. I figure all children must see their parents as the greatest, until you, as the parent, do something to damage that estimation. I must be doing something right.

I have been exposed to the mainstream ideas of parenting lately, which I normally avoid like the plague. It has been interesting, to say the least. People really do believe that to focus on your child's happiness is to do them a disservice. As if making them miserable is doing right by them. But I digress. How can living a life of joy with your children possibly be hurting them? I just do not get it. A truely happy child is not mean spirited and selfish. Their happiness wells up inside them and spills over, effecting all around them positively. Happy children do not look like "spoiled" children. They are so "full" they are able to give and love in return. There is a difference between joyful living and being a doormat to your child's every whim, people. It is NOT about martyrdom. It is about living together with mutual respect, loving unconditionally, and being a true partner with your child.

Children learn to act and be what they see all around them. If you are respectful of them, they learn how to be respectful of you. If you are loving towards them, they know how to love another. We say, as a society, that you have to earn respect. And we mean you have to be worthy of my respect before I will give you any. Then we tell our children that they have to respect their elders. Well, I say, what are you doing, as the elder, to earn your child's respect? Hmmm? Where is the behavior or traits worthy of esteem? Children need to be shown what that looks like, how to be a person worthy of esteem. And we need to be patient with them while they work on getting that, not expect them to be instantly grown-up just because we told them to be. The way I see it, respect is something you get when you give it. Not the other way around. You can't demand it, but not show it.

So, these are the things that I think about and try to put into practice in my life as a mother. Try being the operative word. On days like today, when I get a sweet reminder that I am on the right track, I am humbled. Because, really, it is not about me. It's about them. Those two sweet girls sleeping in their beds upstairs. And what they think, know, matters more than what I think, anyday.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great minds are thinking alike! I JUST finished writing about this(not on my blog), JUST before I came to your blog! You are more eloquent, but the sentiment is the same. Glad to hear your efforts are noted!!