Proud is powerful.
Pride is something I want for my children. I didn’t find anything much to be proud of, myself, until I had children. I was moderately good at a number of things, but never excelled at anything. I didn’t feel a level of accomplishment in anything that could be described as pride.
Clear self- perception issues exposed here, but hey, I stand by the statement that I am a Jack of all trades, Master of none. I was a seriously flakey dilettante, or maybe it was ADD. OK, I felt occasional pride in things I did often and enjoyed, like cooking or sex, but it was a very delicate pride, a puff ball that could be dispersed by the slightest breath of criticism, real or perceived.
I was amazed to feel truly proud when I had my babies. I was proud of what my body had accomplished and that my children were thriving, despite my uncertainty and obvious mistakes (and those certain to be discovered years later on the therapist’s couch). I had read of many women who had had problems with carrying, delivering and breastfeeding their babies. I knew it wasn’t really a personal accomplishment, just luck. My pride wasn’t so much about my accomplishment as I felt proud of my new standing as a mom, something I had longed to be.
But it was a strange source of pride – I was proud for doing something that the majority of people the world over had already accomplished: becoming a parent.
Maybe it was more of a sense of relief than of pride, really. I had, in a sense, arrived. Suddenly, in at least a small way, I fit in. I was, for want of a better word, normal. I completely understood why Murphy Brown (yes, I know she was a character on a TV show, but hey, get your cultural icons where you will) sang: “You make me feel like a natural woman” to her baby the day he was born. She, like me, had always been an outsider, and here she was, really a part of something: the bond with her child, but also the continuing story that is the human race.
For the first time, it all made sense: the way the rest of the world lives, what motivates them, what rules they live by, where they are going. Baby and I were one, and yes, I was proud to be one of “them”.
I no longer feel that pride of solidarity much. My world is too different from any other mom I know to feel one of the Moms of the World much. However, at my advanced age, with my high-stress job, fairly fragile health and two still-thriving little kids, keeping going is an accomplishment. So, I have learnt to be proud of just hanging on.
And you know, besides being very proud of my friends, their accomplishments and diversity, I am also very proud of having made those friendships, having nurtured, (however spottily) those friendships, having been accepted by those people I greatly admire and just, well, being a person with a great bunch of friends. So that’s another thing. I am proud of my efforts to make friends and be a good friend.
I’m still looking for something I do well enough to be proud of it as an accomplishment, and looking forward to being an accomplished person. But in the meantime, I have begun to be proud of my efforts, the inroads I’m making, towards becoming the friend I want to be, and a person I’d like to be, even if that is just defined for the moment as a person who keeps on going.
I’m hoping that I can exhibit that pride to my children, so they grow up understanding the pride of growing, not just achieving. But I also hope they feel pride in who they are and what they do, before they’re old enough to be grandmothers!