My Mantra For My Children

My New Mantra to be Repeated to My Children

There are a few things that I repeat often to my children after the words I love you and I am so proud of you. But there is more to it. As I sat down with my youngest who has a much harder time sitting still and paying attention, I realize that it’s not just that she’s hyperactive, but also that she does not yet have the self confidence to know she can do whatever she puts her mind to. Because I know first hand what it feels like to miss out on that part of adolescents, I want to be very sure that I do not allow that for my children. What I wanted to say to my child this morning as she played cute and guessed the words as she was attempting to read, when all she had to do was focus and sound it out…I wanted to get on to her and tell her that I need her to focus, or I wanted her to pay attention. Instead, the facebook question that people often ask about if you could go back to your younger self what would you want her to know came to my mind. Everything I wish I would have known, felt, and put into play was all around self-confidence. It was in learning and defining a true sense of self at a much younger age. It was in being given permission to feel my feelings and speak my truth. Glennon Doyle says all the time that ‘we can do hard things’ and I love that. But since I am not the genius who coined the phrase, I have to search a little wider and find my own. *She also did not coin the phrase. She saw it on a class board many years ago and has been repeating it since.

I looked into my child’s eyes and said: “You are very smart. You can do this.” Not so crafty, or worthy of coining or putting on t-shirts but it works for us. Hearing that you are smart was not something I was told in my youth nor in my adolescents nor during anytime of my schooling well beyond college. Never did anyone look at me and tell me that I was smart. I got the “you have street smarts, just not book smarts” thing, but no one ever leveled with me and let me in on the secret that I am, in fact, quite intelligent. That did not come until massage school. That was my element. It became and remains to this day, my wheel house. But it was a fellow student that changed my life. She was extremely smart and she became my study partner. Not only did she look me in the eyes and remind me, or offer it for the first time that I am smart and I know what I’m doing, but she also challenged me and taught me how to study in a form that I had never done before. We over-studied. We over-prepared, not under. I always used to say “that’s good enough” and she would challenge that in me and question it, “you can be done whenever you want, but I’m going to sit here and keep working,” which made it difficult to get up and walk away from our work. I learned through her so many things. (I love you, sweet Heather).

I finally had someone in my corner who encouraged me to demand more of myself. She did not demand it of me, she just taught me how to demand more on my own. When I came up with the idea that I was going to self-publish a book on stretching, it was her that I called and she immediately had me come over and she and her partner were my models and my photographers. She has always had my back. She makes me a better mother to my children because I learned from her.

Now, I do my best to teach my children to demand more of themselves, too. Not because I demand it, but because they have the power over themselves not to stop short of their best work. They do not yet know what they are capable of, but I am determined to set the tone so that the levels they can reach far exceed their initial expectations. I write books. I have books in the public library. I went from self-published author to professionally published author so far five times over. My books are translated into other languages. I have actually hit my every goal that I had for myself at the beginning and now the bar for my goals are raised. But the one thing I know for absolute certainty, is that in order for me to prove to my girls that they can do anything in the world that they really want to see happen…I have to be willing to do that myself. Our goals won’t be the same ones. But they see me working on mine and never giving up. They saw me go back to school and work on a graduate degree and walk away with a perfect 4.0 after only attaining in undergrad or high school no more than a 2.3. I am becoming who I want to teach them to be. It is by example and not by words that you will truly teach your children.

I realize more than ever that what I can be for my girls is their support and their back bone when they can’t find their own. “you are very smart. You can do this.” Is an easy to repeat affirmation. I hope that it becomes deeply etched into their mind grooves. There is another affirmation that I say to my children and I’ll tell you what it is now, but save the details for another blog. The strongest and most important thing that I can teach my girls is this: “it is OK to say no TO AN ADULT.” At some point I will blog deeper into this conversation and believe me after you read it, it will be your mantra, too.

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