Kids are great for showing you life through a different lens. My youngest — a mix of protector, comedian, and sweet talker — shows me a more perfect version of myself. My oldest — a spitfire, creative, and extrovert — continually shows me how to stand up for myself when I otherwise wouldn't. I can't sum up all the ways my kids taught me how to take less sh*t because everyday it's a new lesson and, with every lesson, I'm a little bit stronger than I was the day before.
I've always been an introvert, sometimes straddling the extrovert line by way of performance art through my younger years, with an odd affinity for letting others step all over me. Not speaking up comes from many years of learned behavior. As a child, I wrote my hopes and dreams in a notebook because I learned very few people cared enough to actually hear about them. As I grew, my voice shrank until almost indecipherable because I'd gotten so used to not being heard. This often translated to being taken advantage of and/or being put into situations I didn't want to be in.
Eventually, all of this took its toll in the form of severe anxiety (among other things). I had no idea how to stand up for myself, let alone actually do it. The thought alone was terrifying. After becoming a mother, though, I realized it's no longer about me. With my kids' needs on the line, I no longer had the luxury of retreat; I had a duty, an obligation to stand up for them, if not for myself. While my son spends most of our time telling me I'm beautiful, seeing past my many flaws and mistakes, and making me laugh at his random super hero stories, my daughter's showing me how to be the strong, confident woman she believes me to be — all the things I should be showing her. Because of her, I take less sh*t and, because of her, I have zero regrets over it. Here are some of those lessons she teaches me every single day.
Don't Take "No" For An Answer
While I'm instinctively a "no" person (due to my anxiety), I never seem to muster the courage to actually say it. My daughter has the opposite attitude. She actually won't exit a conversation until the answer ends in "yes." A great negotiator and guilt-tripper, I'm not always a fan of her methods when it comes to getting her way. However, at the core I see how the determination to have her voice heard bleeds through. Sometimes I wish I could be so insistent with others to redirect conversation.
While I don't always debate every issue until my voice is heard, in watching my little spitfire argue against a solid "no" and eventually turning it into a "yes," I'm inspired.
Express Feelings As They Happen
My girl is passionate about most things in life. So much that it can compromise her sense of reality at times. In seeing her tell it like it is when her feelings are hurt, I see all the ways I don't do this, and should. If my 10 year old doesn't take any sh*t, why should I?
Resolve Conflict Immediately
I'm notorious for avoiding conflict because it makes me highly uncomfortable and sends me into an anxiety spiral — even in my relationship. If my daughter and I have words and she stomps off to her room, it's usually only a few minutes before she's right back down to apologize. In resolving conflicts early on, it shows me she's willing to find humility in her errors and also, she's willing to fight for her right to be heard in the first place. I so admire this.
Don't Talk Down To Myself
I often catch my daughter checking herself out in the mirror, high-fiving herself for being so amazing. I love her confidence, though I lack so much of it myself. When I catch a glimpse of her lip synching in the backseat or having a dance party in her room, it reminds me that part of taking less sh*t from others is being your own fan.
She's at the age now where drama is literally unavoidable. Just last week, she and her "best" friend split and made up every other day. I remember those days (sort of) so I get it. For the most part, she's pretty well liked and does her best to steer clear. She knows it affects her ability to stand up for herself when in a constant state of argument or defense. I've taken note so that when I find myself in the center of any drama, I can take a step back to ensure none of my sh*t gets involved (easier said than done sometimes).
Raise The Bar
Along with having confidence, my daughter's expectations seem unrealistically high at times. Her belief in me, and the world, fail before ever given a chance because she's deemed herself worthy of the best of the best. I'm happy about this for her, and hope she continues to acknowledge her worth. While life doesn't always go the way we hope (and yes, I'm teaching her about this), her attitude shows me it's OK to raise the bar. I deserve the best of the best, too.
Acknowledge I Am Worthy
When it comes to taking less sh*t, it all comes down to how I feel about myself. If I don't feel worthy or deserving of a good outcome, I'm more likely to let other step all over me again. My daughter knows and understands her worth and value and her self-esteem is high. In that, her "take no sh*t" level is pretty damn high, too. As a mother who will eventually have to set her free into the world, I'm thrilled.
She's so in her skin, so true to who she is, it's hard not to stand back in awe. Maybe parenting isn't always about what I can teach her but, instead, all she's teaching me. The only way I can repay her, honor her, is by finding that voice I've kept buried all this time, and using it.