On Being Humble…

imageDear Soph-
I have no doubt you will be a talented woman. Be it music, art, athletics, writing, science, math…whatever it is, I know you will find your talent. And you may be so talented one day that you stand out from the crowd. No one will be more proud of you than me and your dad.

I want you to be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. I want you to have confidence in your abilities. I certainly wouldn’t want you to shy away from the spotlight.

At the same time, I want you to remember that too much ego will kill your talent.

Stay humble.

I can’t think of a better person to illustrate this point than Mr. Kanye West: hip hop artist and wannabe clothing designer.

I – along with a sizeable portion of the population – am wishing on every shooting star that by the time you are old enough to read this, Mr. West is but a distant memory. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t wish any ill will on the man. But if he fell from the spotlight and decided to hole himself up in a remote cabin deep in the back woods of who-the-hell-cares, I certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep.

The thing about Kanye – or “Yeezus” as he prefers to be called – is…well…it’s just that. He gave himself the nickname “Yeezus.” And wrote a song called “I am a God.” And considers himself to be the “nucleus of all society.”

Really.

He thinks he is God’s gift to the Earth. He thinks everything he does is genius. And he never hesitates to let the world know. The phrase “overinflated ego,” while true, just doesn’t seem to cover him. He is beyond full of himself. He lacks even the smallest ounce of humility.

To my surprise, there are many people out there who agree with him…that he is a genius in the music world. In all honesty, what the hell do I know? Maybe he is. I know nothing about what it takes to write or perform hip hop music.

But I will never be able to get past his attitude. Any appreciation I might have for his music or his talent is completely overshadowed by my all out dislike of him as a human being. Because he lacks the ability to be humble. And I find that obnoxious.

His recent performance on Saturday Night Live was actually what sparked this letter. Your dad and I sat through two songs, watching him hop around on stage, mumbling incoherently into the microphone, surrounded by a group of truly gifted singers.

I realize he has many fans who would have considered that performance “genius” or “inspired.”

All I saw was an egomaniacal asshat in a bedazzled letterman jacket lying face down on a mirrored stage while the choir behind him sang their asses off and showed him how it’s done.

But here’s the thing kid, I’ll be the first to admit that I fall short when it comes to this concept. Only I skew the other way. I struggle with confidence.

I was blessed with the ability to sing…and sing well. And I don’t just mean I can carry a tune. When I was in high school and college, my focus was opera. A genre that doesn’t exactly make room for karaoke queens. I was even awarded a scholarship to a relatively competitive school of music.

Even writing that makes me a little uncomfortable. I’ve never been good at tooting my own horn. It feels strange to me. Maybe Kanye could loan me some of that confidence.

I guess what I’m saying is this: You can be confident in your talent and your abilities and, at the same time, refrain from commandeering the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards waxing lyrical about how you’re so awesome that you’ll be running for president (Google that reference when you get older…I wouldn’t classify it as “entertaining” but it was certainly a spectacle).

But really…be proud of your accomplishments. Be confident. Toot your own horn, when it’s appropriate to do so. But at the same time, remain humble. Appreciate the gift that is your talent. And try to be mindful of how often – and how loudly – you sing your own praises from the rooftops.

I’ll be up there doing that enough for you anyway.

Love, Mom

image

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot…

Dear Soph-
This year is rapidly coming to an end and 2016 will be here before we know it. A popular topic nowadays is New Year’s resolutions. I don’t make them every year. Historically, I’ve been so specific and lofty that I failed before I even started.

So this year, I thought I’d take a different tack. I want to make some general changes. Things that will benefit me, first and foremost. Things that will make me happier. Because when I’m happier, I can be a better mom and wife.

Make better choices
There are a few things that fall under this umbrella.

Making better choices when it comes to my health is high on the list. Now that I’m getting up there in age, I need to stop taking my health for granted. Every creak and pain has me running for good old Dr. Google lately (if your Grandma Mimi is reading this, she is rolling her eyes – I’m the resident hypochondriac of the family).

Move more and eat less. Maybe “less” isn’t the right word exactly. There are certain things I should eat less of…but overall, it’s just being smarter about what I’m choosing to put in my body.

Get regular checkups. I currently don’t have a Primary Care Doctor and haven’t been to one since I was in my early 20’s. Good news, kid, I’ve already made strides on this one. Appointment has been made (she types, as she pats herself on the shoulder).

The point being that I want to be around as long as possible for you.

I also want to make better choices when it comes to how I react to things in my life. I have my moments where I’m able to not sweat the small stuff…but there are plenty of times when I do. I sweat. And sweat. And it adds stress to my life that is, quite simply, not needed.

This year, I want to try to be calmer. Stress less. Let things go. RELAX. Realize that each year has its seasons of ups and downs. And to know – and really believe – that in those seasons when I’m down, I won’t always be that way.

Try to not be so hard on myself
Again, many things fall under this.

This blog is a prime example. It’s been a while – a long while – since I last posted. And I’ve been beating myself up over that. But you know what? Oh well. Life gets in the way sometimes.

And on those occasions when I “should have” been writing, I was playing with you instead. Or exercising. Or reacquainting myself with the piano. Or enjoying a cup of coffee while listening to the Chairman of the Board. Or watching a movie with dad. So I was spending my time the way I needed to be.

I’m hard on myself when it comes to you, too. In some ways, this is good. But there are times when I need to put it all in perspective.

Case in point, we had a rather hefty snowfall here before Thanksgiving. About a foot of snow. The next day when I dropped you off at daycare, I saw that every other parent had remembered to bring their child’s snowsuit and snow boots to school that day.

I hadn’t even bought you any at that point.

I felt like the worst mom ever. I pictured all your little friends gallivanting in the snow. And you…ill-equipped, alone and sad…stuck on the concrete in your jeggings and sneakers.

What I should have done was taken a breath and realized that you’re only 17 months old. And that you didn’t have a clue that I’d dropped the ball and were not phased in the slightest.

Instead, I immediately went to four different stores in search of boots small enough to fit your tiny feet. I also bought snow pants in varying sizes and patterns (a girl has to match, after all).

Hasn’t snowed a lick since then, of course. It’s actually been in the 50’s ever since. So…yeah.

Put my gratitude on paper
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face…I am very blessed. Much more so than I deserve.

One of the things I want to start doing is writing down the many things for which I am thankful. There’s something about seeing things written down on paper. Something you can go back to when you need a little reminder. It helps me. It puts things in perspective. Maybe I’ll start incorporating it in my letters to you. Maybe I’ll just keep a journal for myself.

Either way, I want to commit to this practice. It’s something I want to pass on to you. Not just the act of writing down what you’re grateful for…but really, truly being GRATEFUL. Realizing what you have. Seeing each and every little tiny thing that makes your life so wonderful.

It doesn’t always have to be something big. More often than not, it’s the little things that add up.

And when you take stock of it all, you realize that life is good.

So there you have it. I know I won’t be perfect. But I’m going to TRY.

Happy New Year, kid! The best is yet to come.

Love, Mom

I Am THAT Mom

image2blogimage1blog
Dear Soph-
I saw a sign outside of your daycare room when I dropped you off this morning asking parents to sign a form if they wanted their kids to wear sunscreen when playing outside.

Naturally, I immediately tracked down the Director of the center and requested a new form, where I could write in the exact brand of sunscreen I wanted you to wear (rather than have them use whatever they stock up on at the center). Not only did I write down the brand, but – being the long-winded type of gal that I am – I took it a step further and used all of the extra blank space they so kindly left at the bottom to elaborate on exactly what I expected whenever you are taken outside. Part of those instructions included that you are to wear a sun hat at all times when out of doors. Sorry, kid. I am that mom.

Your dad took one look at the form, laughed, and said “After reading this they probably won’t even bother taking her out.”

While I hope that’s not the case, I admit I went overboard on my instructions. I own it. But I don’t feel bad about it at all. There are certain things I am particularly sensitive about when it  comes to your care and sun protection is very high on my list. I am that mom.

So I thought I should prepare you, kid. Here is a list of some additional things you have in store for you as you grow up:

I am that mom…who will probably tear up (or weep openly) when I watch you do something you love, or achieve something new, or learn how to read, or go to your first school dance, or…you get the picture. Have the tissues ready because I can be an emotional gal.

I am that mom…who will act like a total goof in front of your friends because, not only do I think it’s funny to embarrass you ever so slightly, I’m also hoping it will ensure you don’t take yourself too seriously.

I am that mom…who will make you write thank you notes after receiving gifts – for any occasion. Because, gratitude is important.

I am that mom…who will not let you stay home from school unless you are REALLY sick. I come by it honestly, kid. I grew up with an ER nurse for a mom – an ER nurse who worked the night shift – so unless I had a disturbingly high fever or a much-needed appendage dangling by a tendon, I went to school. As my mom always used to say: “The walk to school will do you good.”

I am that mom…who will arrive an hour early to your recitals (or performances of any kind) to ensure I am seated in the front row, on the correct side of the stage (or sports field?) so we have an optimal viewpoint of my baby girl. In dire situations, when I’m concerned about jockeying for the best seats, I will not be ashamed to have my mother fake a minor asthma attack – as she had my grandmother do – to allow us even earlier entry than the rest of the parents so your dear sweet Grammy can sit down in a comfortable chair to rest and catch her breath. And if that comfortable chair just happens to be stage right in the front row, then so be it.

I am that mom…who will not allow you to have a cell phone before junior high (I prefer high school, but I realize I must pick my battles), nor will I really believe that the absence of said cell phone is costing you friends.

I am that mom…who, upon hearing you have been invited over to a friend’s house for a party, will call your friend’s mother to thank her for having you over and to ask if you can bring any refreshments – no matter how many times you INSIST your friend’s parents are aware of the shindig and will be home to supervise. My sister was caught many a time with this little trick I learned from my mom.

I am that mom…who will insist on family traditions – like bedtime rituals, game nights, Christmas Eve activities, secret handshakes with your dad, summer reading competitions and the like. I love thinking back and remembering things we did as a family when I was growing up and I want the same memories and traditions for you to pass on.

I am that mom…who will make you volunteer when school is out for the summer. Nursing homes, hospitals, animal shelters – you can pick the what and the where, but it’s happening.

I am that mom…who secretly wishes you grow up with the same passions that I did – playing the piano, singing, writing, reading – and I may ask that you TRY some of these things, but I will be your biggest supporter no matter what strikes your fancy.

I am that mom…who will never let a single day go by without telling you – out loud – how proud I am of you and how much I love you.

Love, Mom