There is nothing particularly special about me.
I am like billions of other people in the world: I am a mother.
I am a mother.
I am a mother.
I hold the lives of my children in my hands, on my breath I validate their dreams, and my intentions and mistakes determine their futures and their children’s futures. Retail, investment and service industries market to me; my interest is a hot commodity. And yet I have very few real resources, because those industries don’t benefit from my triumphs; they benefit from my needs.
You know who benefits from my triumphs? My children. Your children. Our children’s children. Every single generation to come benefits from every single time I get it right. And that makes it imperative that I take my job seriously and get it right.
We need to take responsibility for our children! As our children soak up every word we say; every hand-gesture, every movement of eyes and facial expression, are we living the life we want them to emulate? How many of us just sit back and allow our kids to play games (online and otherwise) without engaging them in conversation about what they are playing, and the ramifications of it? When my children asked me what rape was, I told them. We talk about wars, and politics, and sex and drugs and mental illness. We pause movies and games when things need to be explained, and my kids soak up the explanations (and questions) sometimes with more enthusiasm than the media itself. I can't stop them from participating in what is now popular culture, and if I did, they'd only want it more. But I can lead by example, and so can you. We all can. We have to. It's our responsibility. We didn't bear our children out of necessity; we chose this path because we love children. And children grow to be adults, to inherit our world, and to have more children, themselves. So it's our responsibility to raise them with integrity and awareness, that they go into the world full of questions and willing to look around, but also with a conviction to find their own truths and their own right paths.
There is no time to waste. And the smallest things make a difference; the random comments from my children remind me of this. My daughter once said, "I can't wait until I grow up so I can have pimples and wear cover-up, too!" My son said "I hope my wife doesn't think I want her to shave herself. That wouldn't be nice of me." Once my daughter reprimanded her father for some grammatical mistake and then turned to me with pride in her eyes. Oh no - did I teach her that? Of course I did! And it will take a lifetime to undo. Not everything we pass on is what we hope for. It matters very much not only that we lead by example, but also that we teach our children - from birth - that their own opinions and questions matter; that any question is valid, but that we also don‘t have all the answers. It's important that we reach for the best possible version of ourselves, because that will be the standard our children measure themselves against, and it will effect every single generation to come.
It is not OK for us to condemn violent video games but to watch violent movies, ourselves, or to wish death on politicians, talk trash and laugh about the emotional trauma of celebrities. It's not OK for us to practice attachment parenting but escape our children for a night at the bar. When they find us in the morning and discover that sour old booze smell on our breath they will learn that that is the smell of being with friends, and all the threats in the world won't take that lesson away from them when they're 14 and their friends are offering them cheap vodka under a bridge. It's not OK for us to tell them to be nice to each other, but to put our own community members down, to gossip, and to blame. Our children will learn more from our acknowledgement of our mistakes, and the lessons they’ve watched us learn than they will from the threats and consequences we’ve doled out to them.
We are mothers, and our demonstrated values and behaviour are the greatest teachers our children will ever have. We are mothers! We must take the importance of this incredible occupation very seriously, because there is nobody who can make a bigger change than we can, in choosing how we raise each new generation.