A note to my kids..

Hi my babies,
As you well know, sometimes I have random thoughts that I am compelled to share with you before they get lost in the mess of mind and today I was having a few of them. Here they are.
Today I told one of you something I wish I had told you or even understood for myself a long time ago but I’m a slow learner. That’s ok. I get there eventually.  Here’s the thing:
It’s not your job to make me or your father (or anyone other than yourself) proud. Whether we are proud of you or not is irrelevant.

Once when you guys were really little I remember Benj saying to me, “Wow mommy, you really care about the way things look”. That was a major knife in the heart for me because it was true. I put a lot of energy into the way things looked.  Maybe more energy into things looking good than things feeling good. That was a big mistake. The way things look is irrelevant.  That’s something I still have to work on every day.

We put a lot of emphasis in our culture on being proud of our kids. Sometimes we think we are being awesome parents when we tell our kids how proud we are of them. #proudmom
But it’s not our job to be proud of them. Our pride is irrelevant.
Here’s my job:  To love you unconditionally and to support you in your journey through life as best as I can.  Sometimes I will fail horribly but I will always try and I will always do my best. Sometimes my best will not be good enough.  When I know better, I will do better and I will never give up. This is my job and I promise to do it.

Here’s your job: to learn and to grow and to live your life as well and as honestly as you can. This means that you will make a lot of mistakes. You might have some great successes and we’ll celebrate those,  but I can guarantee your mistakes because mistakes are how we learn and we are here to learn.
The knowledge and growth we gain through learning is awesome but the mistakes that lead to learning are often awful and painful and sometimes really awkward and embarrassing.  Your mistakes may embarrass me or make me mad or both. My mistakes may embarrass you and make you mad.  At times your mistakes will break my heart and my mistakes might break yours.  Here’s the scary part: your guides (that’s me and your dad ) are still learning too.  We’ve figured some stuff out but we don’t know everything. Here’s the comforting part: When I screw up I promise to tell you and to do my best to do better. When I screw up I won’t pretend that I didn’t.  I want you to be able to trust that I am doing my best by you at all times and your wellbeing will always come above my need to seem like I know what I’m doing.

The problem with putting too much emphasis on the whole “I’m proud of you” thing is that apart from being irrelevant, I think sometimes it really creates a barrier in us doing our jobs properly. I can’t help you or guide or support you properly if I don’t know what is going on with you. And you might not want me to know what is going on with you if you think it might make me less proud of you.  Can you see how this might create problems?  If that happens, I’m not doing my job of supporting you because I don’t know what type of support you need, and you’re not doing your job of growing and living because you’re so busy worrying about how things look.

Here’s what I know. Life is so messy and ugly sometimes. It just is. It just is.  Here’s what else I know. If things look good but feel bad, they are bad.  I would much, much rather see the ugly, real stuff and live it with you than let you live through the ugly stuff on your own. I would much, much rather be there for you, than proud of a less than honest version of you.  Every time.

I captioned the picture I took above as “Life” because to me, it’s the perfect visual metaphor for it. Sometimes the sun shines warmly and beautifully and brightly but the clouds are pretty much always around, waiting to waft in. Clouds aren’t a sign that you are doing anything wrong, they are just part of the design. Sometimes the clouds are thin and we can see the sun through them, things aren’t perfect but they are just fine and we know things will be just fine, sometimes the clouds are really heavy and dark, and they get locked in for days or weeks, sometimes there is no sign of the sun whatsoever and we are pretty sure life is going to be dark and grey or even black and stormy forever. But the sun is always there and it will eventually always come out again. There will always be another sunny day as hard as it is to believe sometimes. 

Here’s another way of looking at my job. I’m here to help you to deal with the weather. I am here to remind you that the dark days, the stormy black days are not the end of the world, and that the sun will shine again because yeah, you might know that but sometimes in the thick of it is almost impossible to believe that. Again, I can’t be there to help you remember or believe if you don’t share the weather report with me regularly. If I don’t know your weather I can’t offer you an umbrella when it’s raining, or a coat when it’s freezing, and I can’t remind you to put on sunscreen when it’s sunny and awesome and you think nothing can hurt you.  I know you hate it when I do that, but it’s my job and I promise you’ll thank me for that one later.  I promise.

And yes, it’s nicer for all of us when the weather is mild and lovely and so you might feel tempted to try to make me believe it’s sunny to save me from being sad or disappointed but again, I’d much rather you just help me to do my job. Let’s recap: my job is to be your guide and support and to love you.  Your job: to live your life, to learn, to make mistakes and to grow from them.
I’ll love you forever. No Matter What.


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Big Ugly Man Doll said...

Kirsty, this is beautiful, and beautifully written. I think you have it right. I told one of mine something similar recently: "Though the path you walk right now may be difficult and filled with stones, trust that I can see father down your horizon than you can. Because I'm taller."

Much love!

Terri Bentivegna said...

Love this!! 💗