Note to Self: Lead by Example

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this quote from Nell Merlino’s book “Stepping out of line: Lessons for Women who want it their way in life, in love and at work”:

“In bathrooms, boardrooms, buses, bagel shops, and everywhere else, we all need to imagine a little girl following us around, repeating everything we say and everything we do.  Think about all the things you want for yourself and your daughters, granddaughters, and girls everywhere – and teach them by living it yourself.”

Martha Beck talks about “living it to give it”.  I find this to be great advice both as a coach and as a mother.  I’m a better mother and a much better coach when I’m “living it” instead of just trying to “give it”. 

In this generation of parenting where there’s an overwhelming tendency to put our children’s needs ahead of our own, we are teaching our children a very dangerous lesson.

As the writer, Anna Quindlen, put it in her article “The Good Enough Mother” (Newsweek, 2005):

“There’s the problem with turning motherhood into martyrdom.  There’s no way to do it and have a good time.  By our actions we tell [our children] that being a mom – being their mom – is a drag, powered by fear, self-doubt and conformity, all the things we are supposed to teach them to overcome.”

So how would you live your life differently if you removed the fear, self-doubt and conformity?  For me, it’s getting onstage at a comedy club and performing.  I don’t do it often enough and I’ve vowed this year to make it a far more frequent part of my life.  I’m going to start a series of Open Mics for creative mothers (singers, stand up comics, poets, actresses …) to give us a stage for our creative selves.  Details of the first Open Mic will be posted soon!

When I first became a mother and I lived my daughters’ wonderful lives with them (a social whirl of playdates, stimulating classes and fun playgrounds), I met some amazing women who happened to be mothers.  What I began to notice was that so many of us were putting our lives on hold to “mother” our children in what we thought was a very unselfish way. Although our motives were honorable, it struck me that we were teaching our children how to take care of others without taking care of their own dreams and desires.  Was that really our intention?

As we raise our children to be creative, independent, free-spirited, fun-loving, extraordinary individuals, we should expect nothing less of ourselves.

If it’s what you want for your children, it should be what you want for their mother too.

Lead by example, my dear mama!

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