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Why You Should Never Doubt Your Self-Worth

I’ve been wanting to share a story that happened a few weeks ago, during a time when a bunch of things were happening at once, so I needed time to process it along with all the other things, before I could write about it.  I have written numerous posts about the trials and tribulations of parenting (here’s one, and another, and another, just as examples), and it seems, of late, that subject material is plentiful.  If it’s not one child, it’s the other, and the best I can hope for is to keep my head above water these days.  And when life feels like chasing one crisis after the other, it’s easy to let self-pity creep in… Woe is me!  Nobody has all the drama I have!  Where is my Higher Power when I need Him?

So let me set the stage for this story:  it is mid-week, and I’m hustling to get elementary school child out the door for his 8 am chorus rehearsal.  Middle school kid is already on the bus.  As I’m giving directives (make sure your schoolbag is packed, get your saxophone, etc.) I glance over to the cubby where the schoolbags are packed and see that basketball sneakers have been left behind by the daughter who is already gone.  Now, this may not seem like a huge deal, unless you are armed with the knowledge that this child forgets something… lunch, sneakers, once she got onto the bus and left her entire school bag in the garage… at least once a week, sometimes more.  I am running late as it is, and her school is 10 minutes further away than the elementary school I am driving to, but I calculate, and tell my son to move even faster, because we are dropping off the sneaks before I take him.  I am into the garage, and he says, “I can’t find my saxophone.”

A couple of things should be noted here:

  • The saxophone is not a small instrument, and is made even larger by its carrying case.  It would be very difficult to misplace.
  • The saxophone is a very expensive instrument.
  • The saxophone, and lessons, were something that my son had to sell us on; we did not believe he was responsible enough to take this on.

Needless to say, I am not a happy camper at this point.  We determine that the best possible scenario is that he left it at school (which is a side story/lecture that could fill another post), but suffice it to say that I am ranting and raving about this issue for the entire ride to the middle school to drop off the forgotten sneakers.  We are, no exaggeration, pulling up to the school, so have been in the car for at least 10 minutes, and my son says, “Maybe I took the saxophone upstairs to my bedroom.”

I will just let your imagination run wild with my response to that conjecture.

By the time I unloaded him at his school, and was driving by myself, I was beside myself.  My poor husband made the mistake of calling to check in on me (he knew part of the calamity that was the morning), and I unloaded on him.  “I used to pride myself on being a stay at home mom, so that I could be there for my children, no matter what.  There was a time when being able to run a forgotten item to school made me feel good,” I said.  “But now I’m afraid I have engaged too much, and I’m doing them a disservice.  I’m so involved that they feel no sense of responsibility!”  We talked it through and decided that, going forward, I needed to let them suffer the consequences for their lapses, and that is how they would learn.

About an hour went by, I was running various errands, and my phone rang, it was the middle school calling.  I answered, and it was the Vice Principal of the school.  My daughter has been in that school for 3 years now, and I have never received a phone call from anyone other than the nurse, so I was more curious than anything else.  My daughter is definitely the one I fear school phone calls from the least.  Anyway, the Vice Principal, who seems to be very intelligent, and very concerned staff member, starts by telling me a story of his earliest days as an educator, and how he was out to save the world, and some student who seemed to be slightly off-track, so he contacts the parents, and, long story short, the parents try to have him fired.  So, for him, lesson learned, he will only do things by the book from now on.  I am interested, but am connecting no dots with how this story relates to me.  He then says, “Do you remember meeting me at the “coffee klatch” (an informal parent/teacher gathering)?”  I confirm that I do, and he goes on to say, “Well, I remember you, because you asked some insightful questions, and were so interested, and so engaged, and I was very impressed by your level of involvement.”

I would like to editorialize at this point in the story:  there were only about a dozen parents, and the whole point of the coffee klatch was for parents to get to know the teachers and administrators.  By no means did I do anything extraordinary in that meeting.

So again, to make a long story short (and this was long, we were on the phone for an hour), he just wanted to share with me some generalized concerns he had about my daughter.  There was nothing concrete, and no disciplinary action, but because I presented as such an “involved parent,” he wanted to speak with me informally and let me know his thoughts.

I am, of course, glossing over the emotion involved in getting such a phone call, and the fact that there was any concern at all about my daughter.  I kid you not, she is an angel, so it floored me that she would come to anyone’s attention in a negative way.  So, much to process on my end, and the long and short of that part of the story is a good one.  My husband and I were able to communicate with her in a very positive way, and, since then, there has been nothing but good that has come out of that issue.  I am forever indebted to the Vice Principal.

But the more relevant reason for my sharing this story:  if ever there is doubt in my mind that God is listening to me, I will have only to recall this day in my mind to clear away my doubt.  The very same morning that I voiced out loud my concern that I was “over-engaged” in the lives of my children, I receive a phone call from a seasoned professional telling me that he is only speaking to me this candidly because he appreciated how engaged I was in the lives of my children.

There are God moments, and then there are God moments!

Today’s Miracle:

I started writing this post yesterday afternoon, but was prevented from finishing it due to schedule conflicts.  In the interim, I “ran into” (no coincidences) the Vice Principal himself!  I was able to shake his hand and tell him how much his reaching out meant to me.  Crazy good stuff!

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Mean Girls

I have had one of those full-circle moments that I want to share with all of you, I will try to tell this tale as concisely as is possible for me to do (read:  not possible at all, this will in all likelihood ramble!).  So, here it goes:

Yesterday was my birthday, a glorious day from beginning to end.  Lots of well wishes, shopping, eating, merriment, presents.  I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I am one who LOVES my birthday.  A heart-felt thanks to all who helped make it so special.  But, back to the story:  in the middle of the day, I attended a basketball game for my daughter’s middle school varsity team.  I am specifying, because she is also on a travel basketball team, and has been for the past 5 years.  But the team I watched yesterday is a school league, and varsity at that.  So for the non-sports-inclined readers (a club for which I could be the President), varsity teams take themselves very seriously, and if you are not the best of the best, your role will be primarily to sit on the bench and cheer for your team mates.  And so, with the exception of about 45 seconds, I got to watch my daughter cheer her team mates on (to a huge loss, might I add, and I could write a separate post on my opinion of the coach’s decisions).

So, not the most fun hour of the day.  Meanwhile, I sat next to a parent whom I have known for years.  Her daughter, who was very close friends with my daughter in elementary school (please note the tense of the verb in this sentence), falls into the category (at least according to their coach) of “the best of the best,” played the whole time (and, please remember, we had a stunning loss at the end of this game).  By no means would I say that this mother and I are friends, at least not by my definition of the word, but we have always been friendly, and, as I said, we have known each other for years.  She is the type of woman who I like to think of as a “back door bragger.”  What I mean by this is that she is the type to speak in a self-deprecating way, but her real goal is to sneak an accolade in the back door.  For example, she is ostensibly telling the story of how she had to put her foot down with her daughter, but through the course of telling the story she “slipped in” how she stayed for an hour after practice to help decorate the locker of another player.  I’m sure you know the type.  Not really the point of the story, but I wanted to set up the backdrop for what is coming.

At the conclusion of the game for which her daughter played the entire time (And did I mention we had a huge loss?  I’m not sure if I brought that up yet or not), she turned to me and said, “I feel so bad for Reilly (my daughter).  She is certainly one of the better players in the second string, and she just has no one to play to, so she must be frustrated.”

Honestly, I’m not sure what I said to that, in the actual moment.  As I recall the story, it is enshrouded in the red haze of rage, but I’m sure I was polite and switched topics, and we left the game cordially.

I will get back to this, but there is more to tell to get to the full-circle moment.  During my kid’s dinner I am speaking with my daughter, who is understandably frustrated by the coach’s decision not to switch players out, particularly when we are losing so badly.  She remarks to me that had she known it would be like this, she would have quit the team.

Okay, fast forward a couple of hours.  I have what qualifies is my mind as the ultimate in luxurious evenings:  a night out, with my husband, at a romantic restaurant, fireplace roaring right behind us, delicious food, and a couple of hours of uninterrupted conversation.  We got to talk about everything and nothing, and it was glorious.  The kind of night that, had you told me a few years ago would be possible without the aid of a few bottles of wine, I would have thought impossible.  Miraculous!

Through the course of the evening, we are talking about my daughter, and how we worry that her innocence and silliness might be a detriment to her as she approaches High school.  My position is that, although her maturity may be on the lower end for girls her age, why are we wishing it away?  The good far outweighs the bad, at least from the parental perspective.  And I tick off the various ways that we are so blessed to have a child so innocent and pure of heart at the age of 13:  we do not have to worry about alcohol consumption, sexual situations, or any of the other craziness that often comes with the age.  Now, that may all change tomorrow, but for now, why not celebrate the blessings, rather than fret about the possible downfalls?

We move on to my description of the basketball game, and I share the story of what the woman said to me.  My husband knows her just as well, he is the coach of the travel league, and this woman’s daughter has been on this same team with him for the past 5 years.  He is also offended by her comment, and we talk about it at length.

The night moves on, I come home and have yet another birthday celebration with my children, more presents, more merriment.  The night comes to a close, and we go to bed.

I had a fitful night’s sleep (now this may also have to do with quality and quantity of the celebratory food I ate, but that will have to wait for another post!), and I woke up and recalled the disturbing dreams I had, and I realized that I am really bothered by this whole basketball thing.  So at breakfast I sat down with my daughter and husband, and we talked at length about her feelings of frustration, and I tried to show her a new way of looking at the situation.  Rather than think it’s a waste, see it an opportunity to learn, the physical activity, the team bonding, and the ability to improve her game for her travel team.  My husband speaks more to the competitive side of sports, and points out this is a realistic progression as she gets older.  She leaves for school, I feel better, but still have some low-level agitation.  I speak to my husband about it, he suggests I write about it.  I say, “Great idea, but I need to figure out what I’m upset about before I can write about it.”

So I take some time and sit and puzzle out what’s not yet resolved for me.  And then I have my eureka moment:  what I’m still bothered about is my reaction, or lack thereof, to that woman’s offensive comments.  Why did I not respond in some way to her comments that Reilly is second string?

So I explore further… what did I initially think when she said it?  And the honest truth of it is this:  in the moment, I had an inkling that what she was saying was offensive, but my naive mind thought, “No, it couldn’t be, no one would say anything like that to your face.  You must be misunderstanding.”  Sounds so idiotic, but that’s the truth.  My own “innocence,” as it were, refused to believe that someone would be snarky like that for no real reason.

And I am frustrated as hell with myself that I did not catch it quicker, and did not handle the situation better.  I feel like a chump.

But I can’t write, “I feel like a chump,” I need to find some kind of solution, or at least a different way of looking at things, before I can write about it.  And I get quiet again to think where the progression of this post could go.  And I have my second eureka moment:  I flash back to the conversation I had with my husband last night about my daughter.  How I said that yes, it can be frustrating when she is silly and goofy and immature, especially in comparison to other 13-year-old girls, but the good far outweighs the bad, so celebrate the blessings.

So it is with me.  My naiveté is known far and wide within my circle of family and friends, there are humorous tales of my innocence that have been in circulation for years.  I guess the apple does not fall far from the tree, in terms of my daughter.  So I can get frustrated with myself for not picking up faster that this woman is an adult version of a mean girl, and for not being quicker on the draw with a comeback (or at the very least defending my daughter, but really what I wanted to do was give her a little dose of her own medicine and point out that the first string LOST THE GAME), or I can be grateful that my mind does not work that way, that I am more inclined to think of the good, rather than cynically waiting for the bad.

I am a work in progress on this one.  That last eureka moment only happened a short while ago, and I am already wanting to slide back down the rabbit hole of beating myself up, and coming up with all the zingers I wished I had had at the ready yesterday.  But at least I had the eureka moment, and I can talk back to those insecure feelings!

Today’s Miracle:

That I am blessed with this blogging community, which gives me the ability to work through mental challenges.  If not for this blog, I would still be sitting in agitation, and not have the outlet to work through it!

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