This post is the fourth in the "mom's life@work" series, which is bridging my work here with what I'm doing at Mom In The Balance. Other posts in the series include Help for the Working Mom, Blend or Separate? and How to Reduce Your Stress During the Second Shift.
I talk to my kids every day about what they should be doing - with their time, their attitudes, their toys, you name it - and frequently conveniently forget that how I live my own life is my most powerful tool of influence.
I can talk all I want to my middle schooler about being easy on herself when she makes a mistake, how it's important for her to take a break when she starts to feel overwhelmed, how gossip is vicious and should be avoided, and all of the other theories I have about growing up to be a successful, independent, compassionate soul.
But really it doesn't mean a thing if I'm hard on myself and talking trash about the neighbors. That's what she pays attention to - what's right in front of her face. There's a good reason kids tune out lectures from their parents - they often have nothing to do with reality.
As a mom of girls I'm especially aware of my Same-Sex Role Model status. What my daughters take in about how I live my life influences their view of their own potential as girls and young women. Of course their dad also is a huge influence, as he models who a man is and how a man treats himself, his partner and his children. Together we are a model of marriage for our kids.
As I encourage my daughters to pursue their interests and their dreams and remember my own mom always encouraging mine (she still does to this day!), I wonder what I'm modeling to them right now about being a working mom.
Here are some comments from my kids about me:
- You sure work a lot.
- Mom, you're always stressed.
- Could you just relax? (from the middle schooler)
- Mom's always busy.
- Mom, you need to chillax (yes, from the middle schooler again)
- I know what you're going to say, Mom.
- Who cares if the babysitter sees the dog fur on the floor?
- Mom, you never sit down.
- Do we have time for something fun today?
Ouch! Don't I sound like fun?
Being harried and humorless is not what I want for my life, yet so often I find myself going there. So many other moms I know seem to be there with me as well.
It's positively uninspiring, and yet inspiring my kids is something I very much want to do.
There's a lot I can do to rise up out of the busyness and savor and enjoy life more. There's also a lot I can do to focus on what's really important (connecting with the people in my life) and let go of the things that simply aren't nearly as important (getting everywhere on time).
I can talk all I want about what life can and should be, and my kids are right to tune me out.
But when my kids see me enjoying life, then they can see that future for themselves, too.
I'd love to hear: What are you modeling for your kids right now?
photo by heather mundell of her kids tuning her out