After surviving life as a middle school Mom for three years, I'm happy to say that being a Mom to a high school Freshman has been way better. Like Off-The-Charts and I-Don't-Drink-Nearly-As-Much better.
As this Freshman year comes to a close, we attended one of the oh-so-many end of year banquets (why didn't anyone warn me about all the banquets??) to celebrate a fantastic year of Drill Team. Being in the Drill Team has been one of the best things ChellBell has done this year. Her Directors are amazing, funny, supportive, talented, consistent, and disciplined. And they are aiming to produce 60 girls who are the same.
Chell has been very happy in Drill Team -- happier than I've ever seen before. It is incredibly satisfying to see your child that happy. I have spent 14 years aiming to make my child happy. That's been my goal. "Let's go here -- she'll love it!" (AKA "It will make her happy"). "Let's buy this -- she'll be so surprised!" (AKA "It will make her happy"). "Let's ask her what SHE wants!" (AKA "Let's make her happy!")
Not that there's anything wrong with that. Happy Child = Happy Mom, right?
We started watching the slideshow (that's what you do at Banquets), and I saw this quick photo go by of my daughter in her uniform. Her head was held high. Her shoulders were back. A slight smile on her face.
And I realized
What I hadn't realized in my 14 years of being her Mother.
It's not her Happiness that matters.
She wasn't wearing a look of Happiness in that uniform.
She was Proud.
She was Proud to wear the uniform. She was Proud to be a Silver Wing. She was Proud that her hard work paid off. She was Proud to represent her school by doing what she loves -- dancing. She was Proud to be part of such a wonderful group of talented girls.
She was Proud of herself.
Later, the team gave out awards (they do that at Banquets too). Her team gave her the "Best Leaps" Award -- called out of 60 girls as the dancer with the best leaps... And I saw that look again. She was so Proud of herself.
I realized in a moment that my goal has been all wrong. My goal need not be her happiness -- it should be letting her discover opportunities to be Proud of herself.
Instead of rescuing her from potential failure or giving her the answer, I need to be constantly challenging her to do what makes her Proud. When her response or attitude is a little off, instead of trying to make her happy or telling her what she needs to do (essentially so she'll be happy), I need to challenge her -- "What can you do in this situation to be Proud of your response?" or "When you think back on this, will you be Proud of yourself?" As the clock nears midnight, and she still hasn't finished that project for school tomorrow, I can encourage her to "Push yourself to do the job that will make you Proud when you turn this in." And when her friends start making less-than-ideal choices about what they do, say, or who they date, my goal is that she will ask herself, "Will I be Proud of the choices I'm making?"
Because when she does things she's Proud of... she's happy.
I guess she wasn't the only one to learn things this year...
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