Why I’m Teaching My Girls That Idealism Isn’t Strength.

Posted on Posted in How to Love & Be Loved.

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It’s easy to be pretty.

It’s easy to write, publish, and share cute, utopian thoughts and filtered photographs.

It’s also easy for bloggers to post  statements like “we can all be happy if we just do these 7 things”—but none of this really amounts to anything more than idealism.

It’s pretty, too, to pretend that in my life as a stay-at-home mother and wife, and all-around individual human being, that I have time for each of my roles, each and every day—if I only plaster on a nice smile and give to everyone equally, while giving to myself too. But this isn’t real life, and this isn’t helpful, accessible advice.

Real life was like my evening last night, when my kids were both exhausted and, after finally getting both of our semi-crazed daughters to sleep, my husband turned to me and said, in weary excitement, “We did it!” And then we got our own two-hour long window of coupledom before we crashed ourselves.

Also, somewhere in there yesterday, I worked in a few yoga postures—with two girls playing on my mat alongside me because that’s what I do: I parent kids all day.

I’ll admit that I also did things like wash dishes and get my oldest kid to school. I breastfed and went to a doctor’s appointment. I didn’t take a shower or have that second cup of coffee I wanted. I like to call this daily life.

In other words, life, while wonderful, is not always pretty, or easy, or anything else our imaginations can make up; of how it should look.

Conversely, it’s equally damaging to our actual, real-time lives, and to our psyches, to unnecessarily wallow.

Online articles, and social media shares in general, that are overly dramatic are personally huge turn-offs for me. Another turn-off, though, is writing about how we should do something without being real about how to do it.

Idealism is wonderful, but it doesn’t always amount to much.

Idealism doesn’t pay the bills or change diapers, even if it does help us to remember more virtuous aspects of life among these fleeting difficulties that inevitably arise.

I should do a lot of things—but I’m human, and I can’t do it all. More, I’m teaching my daughters—especially as growing little women—that we’re not meant to do it all alone.

As I work through this trial-and-error thing more typically called parenthood, I realize just how important it is that I throw away my shoulds.

Shoulds can get us into a lot of trouble. Instead, as I embrace mothering two daughters, I also embrace raising them to be both independent, and to know that asking for help is a strength.

It took me years to learn to say “no” and to ask for help when I need it most, and I consider myself to be a powerful person.

My husband tells me that a lot of my writing is idealistic, and that I’m at my best when I’m raw and honest, while maintaining my optimism. I find my life to be best when I look at it this way too.

It’s pleasant to share how moms can have quick, 30-minute workouts, but it’s comforting to know that someone else had to skip a shower that day. There is strength in sincerity and in sharing our struggles, while also providing this supportive “we’ll get through this together” attitude.

Because idealism can show us where we want to travel, or who we might want to aim to be, but there’s nothing more powerful than being genuine and accepting of who and where we are right now.

Women with loud voices, I’ve learned, are intimating to some people. On the other hand, one of my little girls innately has a soft-spoken voice; yet don’t mistake her soft voice—she’s a tiny ball of fire.

And while it’s “easy” to teach girls to be stereotypically, physically pretty—put on makeup, wear nice things, get good sleep, exercise, eat these foods—it’s not always easy, I’m finding, to teach them that being truly pretty means honoring and loving our insides enough that it shows on the outside.

I’m teaching my daughter to speak loudly enough to be heard, because her voice has worth.

So I’ll continue speaking my own truth with love—years ago, one of my best friends told me that this is her intention when she communicates—but I’ll acknowledge those times when my voice grew impatient or said hurtful things, and I’ll apologize when it’s merited.

I’ll be kind. I’ll be imperfect and not always as kind as I want to be. I’ll be kind to myself.

I’ll be human. I’ll be me.

And “me” is pretty, but don’t expect perfection—that’s far too simple and not a great enough measure of my real worth.

 

 

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