The topic of bullying has been coming up more often lately at my house, especially with my older son who will be starting middle school this coming year. (Don’t ask me how he grew so fast; I can’t believe it either.) My son is a fan of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, which are accurate and uncomfortable reflections of middle school in all of its awkwardness. So, based on his reading and what he hears from friends, my son has some appropriate nervousness. This week while walking to school, we talked about how bullies work in secret, relying on the assumption that the bystanders and the bullied aren’t going to tell. I told both of my boys that if they’re bullied or witness bullying it’s important to make the situation public by letting a grown up know.
What a lot to ask. Especially of a child.
I’m a grown up and I can think of a heavy handful of instances in the past year when I haven’t stood up for my own truth. When moms at my sons’ school are gossiping about another parent or child. When someone makes a cutting remark about me and I pretend it’s nothing or ignore it instead of speaking out. I tell myself that they’re little things, not very important, but each time I’m making a choice by not saying anything.
There’s a Japanese adage that the nail that stands out gets hammered down. But what hurts more - staying small or standing up for ourselves, our loved ones, and our own truth?
In the past, I have been careful not to stick up too much. Standing out is a scary place to be. It takes a lot of courage to be the one who disagrees, the one who tells the truth, the one who calmly and confidently says, “Enough.” I am enough. My family is enough. What I bring to this life is enough. Brene Brown writes in “Daring Greatly” that the opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance. The opposite of scarcity is enough, what she calls Wholeheartedness.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
But how do we become brave? How do we show up and know that our enough is enough, especially as we parent our children? Brene whittles it down to courage, compassion, and connection. We find the courage to take off our armor - with the people who have earned their places in our inner circle - and show our children what it means to be vulnerable, what it means to make mistakes and learn from them, what it means to love ourselves inside and out, warts and all. We live our lives compassionately and model acceptance of ourselves and others for our kids. We connect with our children, loving them in all of their sweet, sweaty, silly selves, and listen to what they have to say. Brene writes, “In terms of teaching our children to dare greatly in the ‘never enough’ culture, the question isn’t so much ‘Are you parenting the right way?’ as it is: ‘Are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be?’’’
And that, my friends, hits the nail on the head.
Sunday morning I was not at my best. The day started off fine but then, just as we were walking out the door to catch CalTrain, my younger son "Boy #2" decided that he needed one of his Lego guys to accompany him throughout the day.
And this particular Lego guy was nowhere to be found. The Lego guys strewn across the kitchen table were his brother’s, the guys on the Lego table (a re-purposed train table) weren’t the right ones, and neither were any of the guys on display on Boy #2′s shelf in his room.
CalTrain waits for nothing, not even for calamities such as this.
And, despite the fact that I knew that we had enough time, my encouragement turned to frustration and then to all out yelling, “We’re going to miss the train!” Frantic now and crying (my guilt for this swallowed me whole later), Boy #2 grabbed a few Lego Ninjago cards and we raced out the door, drove to the train station, bought tickets, paid for parking, and then had a full eight minutes to wait for the train. My husband wisely said nothing when the kids looked down the tracks and asked, “When is the train coming?”
This is what my life is like: hurry, hurry, hurry and wait. I hate to be late and it’s making everyone in my family miserable.
Obsessive timeliness does have it’s benefits – great seats at the movie theater, for one, and the boys have only had to get tardy slips from the school office once (Bill was driving them that day).
But my constant push to be somewhere takes away the enjoyment of getting somewhere.
“Don’t let the urgent crowd out the important,” Mary Pipher
Hurrying will be a big habit for me to break. I haven’t figured out how to no longer festinate, but I know that by rushing I’m teaching my kids the wrong lessons – that timeliness is more important than happiness; that what’s ahead is more important than what’s right here, right now. Too soon, my boys will be grown and on their way to being adults. Our children learn from how we live our lives, and we have such precious little time to teach them what we know in our hearts to be true.
I'm a mother of two incredible boys, wife to Bill White of Happy Baby Signs, author of the books The Well-Crafted Mom and Signs of a Happy Baby, and an intuitive life coach. I like to blog about my adventures with my family and the life lessons I'm learning along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey.
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