Picking my daughter up from preschool the other day, the lead teacher tipped me off to a nickname my 3-year-old has earned among the faculty, most of whom also taught her older brother and sister. I had a split second to wonder what it might be – perhaps something related to her infectious laugh, her increasing resemblance to her sister, or her creative and weather-inappropriate fashion sense.
Nope, none of the above; her nickname is The Loud One, and I could not be more proud.
I’ve always wanted to raise girls who speak their minds, express their feelings and take risks to follow their hearts, and I believe I have succeeded so far in nurturing strong, feisty females. But it wasn’t until relatively recently that I started to practice what I preach.
For starters, after a few years of being in a professional rut, I made a complete career change this past summer. And as the horrors of 2020 kept mounting, I found a social and political voice that had been pretty quiet as I navigated the daily routines and demands of being a mom. I also dyed a section of my hair temporarily purple for no other reason than because I felt like it and, hey, YOLO.
When our kids are young, it’s easier to get away with the parenting adage, “Do what I say, not what I do.” But as they get older and social pressures begin to mount – not to mention the barriers and biases they might encounter due to gender, race or socioeconomic status – they look more and more at how their parents navigate the world for guidance. And what does it tell them if our own actions don’t match our words?
There’s a pervasive cliché that says you can’t truly love another person until you love yourself. Personally, I think that theory falls apart when it comes to motherhood, since you can be pretty self-loathing and still walk through fire for your kids. But I do believe it’s true that you are a better mom when you’re being a more authentic version of yourself in the other areas of your life.
I’m proud of my daughters when they express themselves (excluding grocery store tantrums), and I hope they always aim high, even if they sometimes fall down. I am trying to remember to do the same and to make sure they see my efforts, no matter what the outcome. After all, when you’re speaking up for what you want and what you believe in, the louder the better.