I stumbled upon another “mom blog” today, and instead of being encouraged by her post, I came away from the computer feeling depleted…like a failure…like I’d NEVER measure up. My mind began to swim with comparisons, questions, and negativity. “How will I EVER get 38k fans? She has charity outreach, and a super-involved community of readers….how will that ever happen for me? Wow! 85k people shared her last post….I jump for joy when 2 people share mine…” I have to say…it didn’t feel good. Wanting to be on top so badly it hurts, isn’t fun. Knowing you’re not, when you live inside that mindset is devastating….and it got me thinking about parenting.
I have always fought to be on top. I was the child who cried when I scored a 98% instead of the 100%. I’m the adult who allows their day to be ruined every time I see a more successful blog (not hard to find). In my mind, anything less than “#1” didn’t/doesn’t count. Not surprisingly, my life has been filled with stress, anxiety, and a lot of self-comparison. A few days ago, my husband and I had a “discussion” (read, happier word for argument), in which he pointed out that I am flawed in my thinking. (Darn it, I hate it when he’s right!) I’ve always made it my goal to have our children be the smartest. I wanted them to have the ability to get ahead…be noticed…experience success. Like my husband pointed out to me, “success” has nothing to do with being the “best”, and it certainly doesn’t get you happiness…
I don’t want my children to grow up thinking they have to be the best to matter. I don’t want their self-worth to hinge on their achievements. I don’t want them to ever doubt if they’ve made me proud. I want them to enjoy their life, and not get so caught up in the crazy pursuit of “winning.” Life just isn’t about that.
Today, I pulled my daughter onto my lap and held her close. I told her that she doesn’t have to be the smartest in her class, or the best at anything. She doesn’t have to be the prettiest, the funniest, the girl with the most friends, or the teacher’s pet. She simply has to be herself. I told her that I don’t love her for what she does….I love her simply because she’s Hannah…and that’s enough.
I do not want my kids to grow up missing the point…(the way their mother has.) I never want them to see what someone else has accomplished and feel badly about themselves. I want them to lead a life free of the pressure to perform. I don’t want them to become depressed when they see someone else succeed. I don’t want them to think they have to be #1 to be worthwhile, loved, or important. I want them to know they don’t need to follow the path of someone else. Their life’s work doesn’t need to fit a certain mold. They never have to worry about “earning” our love or making us proud.
I heard my daughter tell her Dad this morning that “Mommy told me I don’t have to be the goodest =), the fastest, or the greatest, because you already love me infinity anyways.”
Do YOU know that you’re already “loved infinity?” Regardless of what you do, say, or achieve, you are loved. You don’t have to be at the top, the head of your game, the most widely-known, (or have the blog with the most followers)….you are loved. You matter. You are important not because of what you do, or what you’ve accomplished…but simply because you’re YOU. And being you…that’s enough.
Thank you for the reminder that life is not a competition but instead should be full and overflowing with family, friends, love and self-worth. I never had that as a little girl; my girl will.