You Gotta Work

So, with a little music bopping around in my head, I have a tiny piece of wisdom to share this fine morning.

I thought I was being nice.

I thought I was being helpful.

You see, up until the last week or so, I have been doing a bunch for my kiddos. I was never one of those women who thought that kiddos should be without responsibility…our kiddos have their share of chores and babysitting and tidying…but I was definitely doing more than I needed to for them. Like, if they didn’t put the cereal away in the morning, and they were rushing out the door to meet the bus, I would put it away for them. Or, if I was having company and one of them didn’t put clothing (that I lovingly washed, sorted, and sorta folded for them) away, I would do it.

Yes, as I write this I am feeling a little slushy inside…like I’ve known for a while that they are old enough to pull more weight around here.

Well, this morning, in no uncertain terms, I (lovingly) explained that I have done much for them…and that I enjoy doing fun things for and with them (like baking goodies or making treats or playing games and hanging out together)…and that they needed to show more respect to me in return.

Guess what? They were up to the task! I was surprised and elated to see that, as they went about their work and responsibilities with little guidance from me, they stood a little taller. By helping them get to work, they felt the value each of us feels when we ACCOMPLISH. And, I have to say, accomplishment is a great feeling. 🙂 I’m guessing that when they feel accomplishment and begin to understand their value in our family, in society, and in the world, that their self-esteem will grow, as well.

If you have kiddos, and they could be stretched a little more…to do more…to be more…then I say boldly, “GO FOR IT!!!!” You might have to use your words.  You might have to get a little tougher skin.  You will absolutely have to do more than just “teach by example.”  But it will be worth it.  Teaching them the value of work will stay with them throughout their lives…and, I dare say that the value of work is lacking in this world.

So get to work!

It’s not easy being thin…

Try singing those words in your best Kermit-the-Frog-It’s-Not-Easy-Being-Green-voice, if you please.

In case you forgot the tune, here’s Kermit the Frog singing it in all his green felt glory:

I was thinking of this post several days ago after a conversation of a few women I passed in a corridor.  One, remarking about a woman she once knew, said–as best I could hear–something like, “And of course, she’s like a size 2…” and, a little lower in voice, “…one of those women we all hate.”

Maybe she said dislike.

I don’t know, really.  And I know she wasn’t talking about me.  (At least I hope she wasn’t…but I’m sure part of me wonders.)  I am not a size 2.  I’m not sure that I could be if I tried.  But, I am thin.  And, (because of my height and hair length/style), I probably appear thinner than I am.

Here is my question, though.  WHO CARES?????

Who cares what size dress you wear, what your hair looks like, what size your foot is?  Really?  Isn’t that part of growing older and wiser…to be able to look past the surface to see people as they really are?

Then someone very dear to me wrote something recently that she once thought that people who were thin had high self-esteem.

Guess I missed that gift.  Thin body–check.  Tall body–check.  Self-esteem–maybe one day?  (I am working on that facet of existence….)

I’m not writing this as a rant (okay, maybe just a bit…), but I do want for us to pause for a moment to THINK about our perceptions of others.

At my daughter’s school kindergarten end-of-year party several years ago, a female student came up to me (kindergarten, okay?) and said to my daughter, “Wow.  Your mom’s really thin.”

She shared her words with contempt in her voice…a similar tone to what I heard in the corridor among those few “grown-up” women recently.

WOW.

We all make judgements of people when we see them.  And sometimes we share them with others.  But can we PLEASE STOP JUDGING PEOPLE based on exterior value judgements such as size, shape, hair color, sexual orientation, style preference, number of children (or lack thereof) and just remember that we are all individuals (thank heavens) in this life trying to enjoy another day on earth?

Please?

Every person I have ever encountered on this earth has something to offer…no matter what he or she looked like on the surface.  I find that when I allow myself to become overwhelmed with appearances (my own or someone else’s) that I miss opportunities to learn and grow and love.  I’m sure we all need this reminder from time to time, but I’d like to take a moment to send a shout-out to women, who I think may struggle with self-deprecating thoughts a little more often than men do (but I’m open to others’ insight on this subject).

Every woman is beautiful, and I encourage you to take an opportunity to remind a woman in your life today that she is amazing.  See what she does.  Tell her she is beautiful.  Tell her she is important.  Tell her she is valued.  Eventually, no matter what her external features are, she will believe you over the condescending voices around her and within her.  And have her sing the chorus to this song…over and over and over…until the message sinks deep into her soul.

And here is another one, just for smiles. 🙂

Self-awareness vs. Self-deprecation

I recognize that this could be a little heavy, but I need to get some thoughts down with the hope that writing will help me sort through some feelings and thoughts (as it usually does).

So, I attended a women’s meeting recently where many women were working on various projects (crocheted caps for newborn babies to supply to a local hospital, tied fleece blankets for families in crisis), and as I meandered around various projects and in and out of several conversations, I was aware of my speech on a new level.  I have known for a while that I need to stop apologizing for occurrences that are not only out of my power but are situations that I really have nothing to do about or any way to change.  (For instance, I attended a dinner where the table’s legs were adjusted to be higher than other tables in the hall.  As I sat down, another guest remarked, “You are the only one tall enough to sit at this table.” Guess what my reply was…? “I’m sorry.” I immediately thought, Why am I sorry? Am I sorry that I’m tall? No. Am I sorry that you are short? No. Am I sorry that someone adjusted this table to be higher than the others? Not really. I wouldn’t have even noticed if the other guest hadn’t pointed out the difference.) I felt this awareness of my speech on a new level and resolved to think more about my responsibility before I apologize.

Then, at this blanket-tieing evening, I noticed my words again, almost as an outsider looking in, begging myself to not self-deprecate, which has become such a habit.  In my quest for becoming better, I often fall into the trap of looking at all my deficits instead of noticing the good, the positive, and the productive work I accomplish each day.

In the shower the next day following this evening of conversation and self-deprecation, I started to ask myself “why?” Do I put myself down in order to put others above me? Do I self-deprecate in the hope of getting a compliment? Do I speak harshly against myself to acknowledge my flaws when so many people see me as the woman with the clean house, cute kids, and put-together appearance? Do I want them to see my flaws–to see that I am real–so that they will not put me on a tall, elegant, yet unapproachable pedestal? Do I do it as an open act of self-awareness? Or do I really not like who I am? (I think the answer to all of these questions is “yes” at various times in my life.)

***(time-lapse, as the previous portion of this blog has been saved as a draft for several days of thought and processing)***

As I’ve thought more about this practice of self-deprecation (sometimes in the name of self-awareness), I’ve discovered that I’m good at it.  I’m good at beating myself up (forgive the dangling preposition, please). I’ve done it for many years…and I know all about myself. I can criticize as long as the day. But do I want to? (No.) Is this practice fruitful? (Again, no.) So, what should I do?!?!?!?!

Well, the new month started yesterday…and my mind is filled with thoughts for a new novel, new characters, a new life. Maybe November will mark a new era for me, as well. I need one. “The time has come, my little friend, to talk of other things!” Of positivity, and happiness, and “cabbages and kings.”

After all, I am beautiful.  And I am a princess. Do you know how I know? My preschooler tells me everyday. 🙂