I am a mother of one little girl of 15 months. I am in the early stages of motherhood, and among the trillion questions my new life brings, there is one that is starting to be present on a daily basis. Here it is:
Whether I “like” it or not, I am one day (please not today) going to be a role model. How does one define a role model, and how does one accept that who you are is good enough?
During this first year I concentrated on how the baby is, how my marriage was doing, and I did my best to survive the transition from two to three in the house. I wasn’t really concerned about what I did and how I did it, as long as I managed one day after the next.
But suddenly, this little ball of love is starting to walk, to express herself, to see and interpret what I am doing. Does this mean I already have to be aware of what I am doing in front of her? I sort of knew this day would come, but I DON’T KNOW IF I AM READY!
I have very basic and obvious determinations regarding bringing up my child. I want her to be polite, well-behaved, healthy, respectful of others, be a good citizen, be a good friend… All in all, be a good person.
Now, I am wondering if I have to be this person first…
I guess the “do as I say, not as I do” quote can shoot you in the foot in the long run. So what to do?
I am a nice regular person (so, she says ;-). I have long understood that I will not be of the Luther Kings of this world, but in my own little life I try to give the best.
So, regular girl + good sides and bad sides + good days and bad days + good habits and bad habits = how can that be a role model?
It has taken me 32 years to understand my limits and my strengths, and I am fine with them. But, I never really thought I would be influencing anyone, helping a little blank head processing what is good and what is bad, and teaching all the social rules needed to be a good, well-mannered person.
You learn life through doing what your parents tell you to. It takes experience and sound judgment to realize that sometimes what they tell you is not how you want to act or think. I still remember when I realized my dad was no superman… And, if he does something that I wouldn’t, I love him so much that I always understand or excuse it. And, for the record, I still think my mum is the most amazing woman on earth!
That’s why I guess this love my daughter offers me will obviously reduce her judgment of my wrong doings. It can be silly things such as, crossing the street outside the zebra crossing and eating only chocolate for dinner to more important things like not paying for your bus ticket or much worse …. picking your nose ! (Not that I do those horrible things anymore, of course, now that I am married and wise.)
I feel there will be things I will never be able to share with her because I don’t want her to think it’s ok.
It’s almost like I want to ask all my friends to sign a confidentiality agreement, so they never reveal the crazy things I did (like driving around Paris at 2 in the morning 8 people in a car). And, it almost makes me sad.
I might not need to change per se, but I definitely need to work on those grey zones… I still sometimes have my mother’s voice in my head, “Put a scarf on! Finish your beans!”, and when I decide not to follow that advice, I have a little chuckle in my head like a naughty kid. I love one of Jerry Seinfeld’s examples. When told, “Don’t eat before dinner!”, he said “I don’t care if I ruin my appetite, I know there is one coming just after!”
And, to make matters more complicated, my understanding of social rules as a French person are not the same as my Norwegian husband. So, in the end, not only do I have to behave, but maybe I have to follow local “habits” for her to be well adapted, too? For example, take punctuality. In France a meeting is expected to start 10 minutes late, not in Norway, believe me!
The culture differences aside, do I then go back to being a kid and follow my mum’s rules to give my daughter the best example? So, that in time she can do the same for her kids? Tough!
Shall I lead two lives ” Perfect Mummy” during the day and “Cheeky Chick” at night when the kids are in bed (get the crisps out, be a couch potato) ?
I do know that it is my role, and I will do it. I know she may one day understand that I am not perfect and that she won’t hold it against me (I hope). I probably shouldn’t over intellectualize all this.
But, at the moment her eyes on me are so intense, and she is so proud when she does the same movement or makes the same sound as me. It’s so humbling. My words will be her truth for quite a while… it’s scary… I’d really appreciate your feedback.
Have you been through this “who am I to give someone lessons on life?” feeling ? Moreover are these “lessons on life” mostly based on your personal upbringing or to your current environment ?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ambre French of Oslo, Norway. Ambre is a “French Maman” writing from Scandanavia.
The photograph used in this post is attributed to the author.