Whenever I drive around, I see bumper stickers with something like “Proud Parent of an Honor Roll Student” or I see an elite college on the back of the car for all to see. I get that people are proud of their kids, but it reminds me of all the senseless bragging on social media: “I’m just so blessed that little Timothy got into all eight Ivy League schools.” Or the endless hashtags: “#proudmama”, “#howdidIgetsolucky” and on and on. I think, though that in addition to too much bragging, we’re focusing on the wrong things. What about accomplishments that have nothing to do with grades and college or Division 1 championships? Those are the things that matter most to me.
This week has been one of those harrowing weeks in which my husband has been away on business in China, my daughter was on a school camping expedition for two days, then home for three and then off today for 10 days in Spain for another school trip. The exterminator came twice, my son had an SSAT class, then a math tutor, my daughter was the photographer at the school prom, my daughter had a cello lesson and then a tennis lesson, and my son will have had two soccer practices and two soccer games this week. In addition, one of my son’s friends had a family crisis that involved my intervention and both kids had hours and hours of end-of-year homework. In addition, my son decided he wanted to write an original music based on kids riding the rails in the Great Depression and needed me to write some of the music for his presentation– since it’s being considered for the school’s musical next year. And we had a lot of yard work that had to get done, in addition to packing. Did I mention that in all of this, I had to prep for my first professional gig in 12 years, in addition to my coaching business?
Here’s what made me proud this week. I needed to get a few hours of yard work done before Thursday morning, which was Trash Amnesty Day, meaning the town would take extra trash and yard waste. I asked my kids to help out and they ended up working in the yard until 8:30 at night, asking me to go inside after a while, since I was so exhausted from everything else, and then they finished up without me. I didn’t pay them, but they just pitched in and made it happen, even though they still had hours of homework. I needed them and they came through. In addition, one of my kids’ friends called late on Thursday night in crisis and my son was calm and supportive to him, since the boy was depressed, and also suicidal. I got on the phone and talked to him as well and then called the school the next day to talk to the school psychologist who then talked with him. She will get help for him. But it was my son who was there for his friend when he felt like he had no out. That makes me proud.
To find your world stage, forget the values of social media, which are mostly fake anyway. Remember that how much money you have or where your kids go to college or what you do for a living– those are all superficial things that in the end don’t matter. What matters is helping out your family and being a good friend. And this week, my kids showed me that they understood what mattered, and that makes me incredibly proud.