Tag Archives: education

It’s your job

“Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” –e. e. cummings

Last April, on my 36th birthday, I was approached at an event and asked if I was the mother of one of the young ladies that had just presented on the stage.  Because I was well acquainted with the young lady in question, I stood back flabbergasted. Most likely unbeknownst to the interrogator, I had just been questioned as to whether I birthed and raised a 21 year old.

In that moment I was faced with a few choices:

  • I could be extremely offended that this person thought I was old enough to have a 21 year old daughter.
  • I could assume they knew I was only in my 30’s and were wowed and awed by the prowess I displayed as a pubescent mother.
  • I could be insecure about every line and wrinkle on my face. I could hone in on the dark circles under my eyes. I could become self conscious about my appearance. I could accept that I must look solidly middle aged.
  • I could be completely flattered because this young woman was stunning in both her internal and external beauty and characteristics and this person assumed she was with me, thereby making me also stunning.
  • I could know that, in fact, this person saw we both had blonde hair, had been seen in conversation, and did what everyone else on the planet does, lump all blondes together. Aren’t all Caucasian blondes related?  Although, if I had chosen this option as my reaction, couldn’t they have asked if we were sisters? Why jump to the conclusion that I was mom?

To make matters worse, it wasn’t but just a couple of months before this incident that someone approached me and asked if I was pregnant. I’m the thinnest I’ve been ever in my adult life,and this person also knew I was in the middle of training for a marathon. The two components of thinness and fitness rarely a pregnant female make. Flabbergast was the only appropriate response here.

Short story long, I chose to let the comments go. With the simple extension of a hearty laugh and a knowing smile of forgiveness in both scenarios, the slate was wiped clean. We have all put our foot in our mouth at some point and have probably been the one eating crow. Why then, one year later, do these two conversations still stand out to me with such clarity?

What woman doesn’t worry about maintaining her youthful glow and appearance? What woman doesn’t want to present herself as chic and in control? Perhaps these females exist, but I haven’t met any of them yet. Even the most confident of XX chromosome owners have moments of mirror shaming, photo comparing, and skin, hair, clothing, body envy.

While chicks around the world may have some raw nerves and universally agreed upon taboo points of discussion (i.e. never ask a woman her age, her weight, her income, or if she’s pregnant), the job is up to us to do the hard work of knowing ourselves and our true, inherent worth as a human being. Never leave the job up to anyone to tell you who you are or what you look like. External validation and motivation can disappear as quickly as it appears. It is fickle. It is finite. It is based in fashion and fads. However, a true, deep down, internalized system of validation and motivation will keep your head held high and your confidence soaring whether you’re rocking Jimmy Choo’s or slippers.

We, as women, can be our own best asset or our own worst enemy. Do not hand the job of self validation over to anyone else in your life. Your parents, your significant other, your children, your co-workers, your boss, your personal trainer, or the random person you met online in a chat room cannot and should not be expected to butter you up, prop you up, and fill you up. My value and my worth will not be held hostage to opinions, criticisms, the social media commentary, postings, and activities of others, Hollywood, Washington DC, trends, styles,the cultural zeitgeist, or the random woman in a tweety bird t-shirt and leggings at the gas station.

Take the time to get to know yourself. Learn what it is you like about yourself and what areas you need and want to improve in. Take action everyday towards the person that you are becoming and desire to be. No one else can cheer for you or take that action for you.

The journey is your work to do. Be your own kind of beautiful!

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Who knew?

This week my husband and I attended the Parent Teacher Conferences of both of our sons. Of course, we basked in the triumph of hearing about:

  • How respectful and well-behaved, albeit sometimes chatty, that they both are.
  • How talented and gifted they both are (the words of the educators and the results of arbitrary testing).
  • How both of our sons truly give 120% to everything.
  • How foreign it is for parents that have no giant issues to communicate to the teacher about (or vice versa) are actually engaged enough to make a conference appointment and still believe that the education of their children is ultimately their responsibility. Sorry world, their education is not a throne I’m willing to abdicate.

(Please don’t run away, this will not be a post filled with shameless parenting braggadocio.)

The above moment of Mom pride was brought to you just as an appetizer for my observations from modern middle school:

  • Who knew that it was off-limits in the United States of America to discuss the American political system and process during social studies and civics? Who knew that the inauguration ceremony was such a terrible thing to expose our children to?

As an advocate of personal responsibility, we discuss the election cycle, politics, the constitution and the structure of our government at home with our children. Sure, we shelter them from the extremes of  the current harsh realities, as they are not fully equipped to process this information right now, but I am teaching them critical thinking, logic, and how to handle people who have opinions and views different from the opinions and views that they are personally currently forming, and that their parents hold.

Differences do not have to divide.

We have taught our children that politics are just that. They are politics. They are part of our lives, but they are not the sum total of our lives. We love and respect people regardless of how they vote and how they see the world. People are people. Politics are politics. It is possible to do life with everyone in our community, not just those that share every single random opinion that we do. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed for me to agree blindly with any one leader. I’m able to logically see faults and favor in every administration.

Like any educated person would, we inquired as to why there was no mention of the inauguration at school. No discussion on the constitution. No celebration of what makes America unique to all the other high functioning, beautiful western nations in the world. No evidence as to the peaceful transition of power that occurred and the displays of respect that happened between the former and current president, even though their leadership and politics are diametrically opposed to each other.

It is my belief that what is observed every 4 years is a sacred ceremony.  I have watched every inauguration since the 1988 elections regardless of whether the victor was the choice of my parents, and later myself.

Who knew being informed was such a terrible thing?

If you look hard enough, my second observation is right along the lines of this “forbidden” inauguration:

Who knew that the hardest scientific concept for middle school aged humans to grasp is the subject of Mass, Volume, and Density?

This factoid came up in discussion and so I immediately tried to recall when I was taught these scientific principles and instead, came up with how I have currently been working with these ideas and just didn’t know it. I spent my whole life thinking I had thin hair until some wonderful stylist actually showed me looks that were good for me and how to actually do my hair. (I will sadly admit to you that I was in my 30’s before I knew how to fix my hair like a well functioning working woman). The stylist told me that my hair wasn’t thin, but that it was in fact just fine. It wasn’t the mass, or amount of my hair, it was the density of my hair that was causing the volume to look low. powder-play

Armed with this newfound information, I still wasn’t satisfied until one angel friend mentioned to me, in passing this past summer, that they know someone with my same “problem” who told her that “Powder Play” was a game changer. So, I went and bought powder play and my life was forever changed. (Unfortunately I wasn’t offered any free product of sponsorship to say that, I’m just a good American citizen that wants to see the rights of women to have volume and “Texas Sized” hair fulfilled.)

trumps-hair

Now, I’m no scientist, and I’m certainly not a middle school teacher, but wouldn’t the most famous hair on the planet right now have been a good object lesson?

Perhaps in the future, instead of writing off times of political unrest and pretending that they don’t exist, we can highlight the diversity of this country, learn to laugh when you want to cry, and maybe even add a little humor to the middle school classroom.