Imagine who you want your kids to become. Be that!
A great quote, don’t you think?
A mantra, an action, a deed. Words that are striking and impressive on a page, a screen, in a notebook, on a bookmark, in a tweet, a Facebook post.
What’s the catch? The meaning? The beautiful metaphor? The brilliant capture? How will MamaMick gift wrap the concept and tie it up in a pretty bow?
Where’s the beef, Mick?
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know what to expect. Sunshine, butterflies, humility, and awkward battles with perfectionism.
You know that I’ll start to dig into some emotional burrows, and then bail or make you giggle before we get too deep. Being nice, buttoning up my shirt, knowing my place, going out of my way to make you feel comfortable.
It’s who I am.
Humble and kind.
I wouldn’t want to make a scene.
Be too dramatic.
Cause a stir.
Voice my opinion.
It’s not ladylike, it’s unbecoming, it would make me look bad, all full of myself. Like I’m all that and a bag of chips. But, not just regular chips. Not Lay’s plain. But like my favorite salt and vinegar chips drenched in salty goodness leaving sweet grease on your fingers and lips.
Yeah. That’s not me. It probably never will be. I hide, conceal, cover up. Deflect. Sit way in the back. There’s no yelling, no crying, no scene, no drama. Ever. It’s what I do, and I’m good at it.
Be nice. Kill them with kindness. I’m from the midwest, and we invented that lifestyle.
Is there a difference between being kind and being nice? It seems that being nice might be a subtle way to smooth over, submit, people-please, pretend, or ignore. I think the difference is that kindness exists within the intent. To see the other person, meet them where they are, understand their struggles, and not push them further down.
Are we nice, or are we kind?
Can a person be kind, practice humility and still make a mark, stand on their sacred ground, and be assertive? If you could see me writing now, you’d recognize facial lines filled with silent worry. It’s okay. I can handle my neuroses. But how do I make sure that my kids don’t inherit my worst trait(s), and still hold on to the best ones?
There is a new word I encountered while reading over the last few months: Badassery. I’m not sure if it’s even a real word, but reading it twice in different contexts makes me think it needs to be.
By definition, as noted by Shonda Rhimes in “Year of Yes.”
Badassery: (noun) 1. The practice of knowing one’s own accomplishments and gifts, accepting one’s own accomplishments of gifts; 2. (Noun) the practice of living life with swagger: SWAGGER (noun or verb) a state of being that involves loving oneself, waking up “like this” and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks about you. Term first coined by William Shakespeare.
I’ve never considered myself ultra-assertive, opinionated, or outspoken. I’m of the mindset to lead by quiescent example, pick only the jumbo battles, and wait to speak until I have something important to say. But what if my model has been wrong? How do I teach humility and kindness to my children without inferring it’s okay to be run over by the world? Doesn’t the nice guy always finish last? Am I doing my children a disservice with my humble and kind mantra?
Think of the people who have influenced your children; teachers, coaches, pastors, college advisors, grandparents, friends, parents of children’s friends, and spouses. I’m blessed and grateful to garner allies in each of these spaces. I rely heavy on my husband and each of these people to model skills and traits I don’t naturally possess. When I see their best characteristics in my children, I know I have chosen my spouse, my bestie, our school district, and our friends wisely.
I’ve witnessed my daughter spreading her wings beyond what my quiet influence could have ever inspired. Last summer, we celebrated her twenty-first birthday at a piano bar in Westport. It was Tanna, her best friend Lindsay, and my best friend Kelsey. Four hot girls out on the town, right? Except I was in full mom-mode, thinking it would be my job to protect the younger girls from the lecherous wolves at the bar. HA!
When a guy hit on my bestie, she did what I would have done in that same situation.
She felt sorry for him, wasn’t rude, and tried to be nice. All while squirming and smiling uncomfortably.
After it was clear he wasn’t leaving, Tanna came across the table and got in his face, “You need to leave her alone. She’s married, and doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Then, she gave him a radiant smile and told him to sit down with his friends. Tanna didn’t yell, her voice was calm and even, and she wasn’t mean. The rejected guy went back to his chair while his buddy apologized to Kelsey.
What about my other child?
Having a son has given me a fantastic, first-row seat to manhood. The testosterone, mental maturity, assertiveness, awesome friends, and deep-seeded kindness make him a very cool dude. He’s brave enough to not become the world’s version of a what a guy should be. My tough linebacker/wrestler doles out unsolicited hugs to grandmas. He cares about his grades, voices his lean-to-the-right opinions, and listens to all sides of a story. He opens doors, scrapes the ice off of the girls’ windshields, and gives me hugs when I bake. He’s no dummy. Girls dig humble and kind.
Often times, we see our children as younger versions of ourselves. Perhaps we assume that how people see them is also how they view us or judge our parenting skills. It’s why we want our offspring to be perfect, well-behaved, reserved, admired. I screw up every single day, and they do, too.
They have hurt my feelings.
Made me yell.
Lose my cool.
Made me cry.
At times, they have been less than kind or humble. And so I have I.
They need to make mistakes, own imperfection.
Fall flat a few times.
Try again and see what happens.
Maybe there’s a chance. For my kids. Maybe they can rise above the moments they’ve seen their uncomfortable mother dodge the hard stuff. The times they have witnessed me lie down like a hand-hooked rug and then flipped to the nubby side when it got too dirty, and the traffic path showed. But, there’s hope for me, too. An old dog, new tricks. You know how it goes.
I’m learning to bite my tongue.
To shut it.
To fight the big battles.
Avoid the micromanage.
Not fix it.
To let them see me stand my ground when I need to, and hang back when I don’t.
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