Congratulate Me, Gosh Darn It

4 comments

So we congratulate our children a lot, don’t we? It’s great. There’s always a first this, that, or the other to give them a high five or a hug for. We come from the generation of keep their self-esteem up and make sure they feel pride.

When it isn’t overdone, when it’s deserved, it’s a great thing.

But what about us, huh? Who’s going to congratulate our successes? Well, how about our children.

I launched a company recently. Something I’ve wanted to do for 5, maybe 6 years. My son, the cynic, who had been a witness of me talking about it for years, did not hide his disbelief in me. I worked and worked on it, but I never pressed publish. And he noticed. He made comments like, “Oh, you’re still working on that? I thought you’d forgotten about it…” Most times it didn’t bother me. His pessimistic attitude bothered me more than his actual view of my progress. Most times. Sometimes it hurt.

My daughter is a bit more oblivious but the eternal optimist. She’s got hope, confidence, a well of positivity. The last thing I wanted was her telling her future children that grandma had this dream that she never “got to” fulfill. Or worse yet, that she still talks about. Yikes.

I wanted to be an example for both of them. To prove one wrong and to prove one right. And maybe it’s good to have both sides of a mission. I was aiming to achieve silence and applause simultaneously.

So this January, I did it. I pressed Publish and my site was live. I come home from work and I work some more. I move with my computer. It’s become an appendage. And I’m not complaining. I normally have the attention span of a goldfish, but here I am for hours– being creative, working through tediousness, reading, researching, stretching my brain and troubleshooting endless technology issues. It leaves me wondering if my brain has actually been pushed at all in recent years. Who knew I was so capable?

But I’ve noticed something: When I accomplish something big or small, it’s usually a solitary celebration. That tech issue I’ve been fighting to figure out for days? The complete overhaul of my design for a more obviously effective one? That creative eureka moment? Alone. I do a little dance, cheer myself on, tell myself I’m awesome. Yes, I do that.

What I’m trying to figure out is when I became too old to get high fives and hugs for my successes? When did I get cast out into the cold praiseless world of adulthood, and should this be what’s expected of adulthood anyway?

Where’s that skeptical kid who always threw his two sense in? Oh yeah, he’s relaxing on the couch. Where’s the girl who’s been rooting for me? Watching a movie. I think it’s about time we start including our kids in our successes. It’s time we adults start getting some high fives and good jobs and hugs and looks of admiration. We’ve given them plenty and now the chickens have come home to roost.

How else are our darlings to know and appreciate and admire? Let’s make congratulations a two-way street. Maybe we’ll even go out for ice cream.

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4 comments on “Congratulate Me, Gosh Darn It”

  1. Oh how I relate to this. I have *tried* to always guard my work time and have sort of compartmentalized it so not to interfere with family time. At the same time, I’ve done my best to tell my kids about my work in some form or fashion. I’ve worked from home the majority of their childhood, and while it has been wonderful and has allowed me a work/mom balance where I can often attend school trips and be home with them in the afternoon, the downside has been that they take their dad’s job WAY more seriously. I realized recently that I need to do a better job pointing out my accomplishments as well as bringing them into the conversation about entrepreneurship and show them that I made this happen. It didn’t just fall in my lap. When they were babies and toddlers, my writing work was mostly done at night once they were sleeping. My husband and I both play and write music more for fun than anything else and the kids often see us playing around with ideas, but they have an instant-gratification mindset. My 9yo made a comment recently like — “You write all the time, but you’re not famous.” I had to call deep…and hold myself back a bit. He went on to say in a jestful tone (but still), “What happened to that song y’all were working on (like two weeks ago)? I haven’t heard it on the radio yet.” That comment right there was what cemented for me that I need to bring them into my process more. There’s also the issue of their thinking if something isn’t well-known then it’s not worth anything. In many ways I’m a humble person and have a difficult time promoting various projects, but seeing it through his eyes created this awareness. There’s also the fact that as a woman I want my sons to see me and all women as empowered and high-achieving — those things are reserved for men. And like you said, heck, we need some high-fives, praise and encouragement! This got really long, but your beautiful post obviously struck a chord. Your site looks fantastic. Keep up the good work and I look forward to following your continued success. ~ Viv

    1. Viv thank you so much for this detailed response! Oh my goodness, you made so many valid points and I know you’ve articulated the struggles of so many others. You mentioned issues like being well-known as their measure for success and not seeing the process, not understanding the big picture and entreprenuership. I’ve done a lot at night to find balance as well. So many do. This is def something we all need to keep in mind. Well said!

      1. Thank you. I think a lot of it is simply their age and the exciting world we live in, but reading posts like this one helps remind me of the importance of having discussions about this sort of thing in a more focused way. Take care!

    2. This happens when I’m on the fly. That fourth sentence from the bottom/end of my original comment should have said:

      ***There’s also the fact that as a woman I want my sons to see me and all women as empowered and high-achieving — those things AREN’T reserved just for men.***

      :

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