When I was little I was naturally quite good at my school work. Apart from maths, which has always been my nemesis. Asides from that though I was well behaved, well-liked by teachers and pupils, and usually achieved slightly above average with my work. This was nice, this made my Mum proud and making our parents proud, is for many of us a wonderful thing.
As I reached my teenage years, I was still achieving good grades but I’d also discovered the joy of standing out. I loved experimenting with new looks and it was rare that I ever dressed fit in. I was quirky and fearless and this was the part of me that made my Dad proud.
I think my Mum hoped I’d go to university, have a sparkling career and spend my life being an independent woman who didn’t need a man. I think my Dad hoped I’d spend my life travelling, being a lesbian and dressing in a way that caused folks to stare. By the time I was 19, I’d realised I was done with studying, I’d met the man I was going to marry and I just wore clothes from, shock horror, the high street stores!
Their disappointed at times was palpable, and that made me sad. I was happy, I was kind, I was doing my best to enjoy my life, but their hopes for me, their dreams, that were actually never mine, affected their own sense of pride I think and even though I know they meant well, and their hopes for me came from a good place, I still wish they’d managed to hold in their disappointment a little more.
For a long time, I think I saw the things I hadn’t done as a reason not to be proud of myself. It’s only in recent years I’ve seen the things I achieved in my 20’s as things to be proud of. I cared for my Mum while she poorly, I was a domestic goddess for my ex for an entire decade and I grew a human in my belly. I always minimise these things, but actually I gave a lot of myself to make those things happen and quite frankly I think should be proud of what that says about me as a person.
When I left my ex-husband I ended up doing things I definitely wasn’t proud of, not because they’re awful things to have done, but because those experiences feel like they belong to someone else. It took a lot of strength and courage to leave the life we’d built together though, especially because it wasn’t a bad life, it was just one I’d grown away from. Most people made me feel disgraceful for making that decision, and again, it took me a long time to be proud that I was able to make those tough choices because I do think it was for the best and had I stayed I think everything would have been a whole lot worse at a later point.
At many points in this past decade since my Mum passed away people have told me she would be so proud of me, without fail I want to, and often do tell them she wouldn’t be, at least not of all of me. I knew her well enough to know the bits of my life she’d be immensely proud of, my little boy being the main one, and which parts of my life she’d be absolutely mortified by, honestly most of it. I’m not saying she wouldn’t still love me or support me, I know she would have always done that, no matter what and I suspect that overall she would indeed be proud of me, with a healthy dose of snarky comments about my lifestyle choices.
I have spent many hours wondering about whether or not it matters to me that other people are proud of me and more often than not I decide it’s better that I am proud of myself, with perhaps the exception of my little boy. I’m currently ploughing a lot of effort into my day job because I think I can achieve something by doing so that would make my little boy smile from ear to ear with pride. Yes, it’s something I want for myself too, but wanting to show him how well I can do is part of my drive as well.
A lot of what I am proud of in my life aren’t always the things you can tell anyone and everyone about. I am very proud of what myself and Bakji achieved with ProudToBeKinky, I love that we helped other folks discover, understand and embrace some of their kinks. As for this blog, there aren’t words for how proud I am of what I’ve done and continue to do here.
When my little boy was small I read an article about parenting that said we should encourage our children to see value in what they do because they loved doing it or were happy with what they achieved etc without needing it to be validated by an outside source. For example, enjoying drawing for fun and not because Mummy will 100% go’OMG that’s one zillionth amazing drawing I am going to stick to the fridge.’ I think perhaps because of my own experiences I saw how much sense this made and decided it was an approach I wanted to take my little one.
Readers, I did not do this right the first time!
My poor boy had drawn, admittedly, a not so great worm. When he asked me what I thought, I told him it didn’t matter what Mummy thought what mattered most was whether or not he liked it. I think he was about 3 or 4 when this happened and he promptly burst into tears and through his sobbed declare that I didn’t like his worm. I was perhaps a little too forthright with my attempt at teaching him a sense of pride in his own work.
Since then I have tried to strike something of a balance, I do tell him I am proud of him because I am immensely so. I am proud of him because he is sweet, kind, considerate, funny, inquisitive and mine. His academic achievements are less important to me than his goodness of heart, that’s not to say I don’t encourage them, I absolutely do and I cheer him on when he does well, and also when he tries hard whatever the outcome.
When I meet people and get to know them, it is very rare that I judge them on their academic or professional achievements. Though I do not for one minute think folks shouldn’t be proud of those things, you absolutely should be, you clever bunch. The times when I look at people and think ‘OMG you should be so proud’ are when they have been awesomely kind and have shown how good their heart is, and it’s those things I try to be proud of for myself as well, and I hope that’s the type of person I teach my little boy to be. I think all the accolades in the world aren’t much to be proud of at all if you got them by being a piece of shit, kindness, compassion and a beautiful soul are in my book worth a whole lot more.