Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's NOT Agree To Disagree

If I were to list phrases that I think should really be wiped out of our collective vocabulary, “Let’s agree to disagree,” would probably be at the top of that list. It’s an awful and useless phrase. It doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just a “time out” or “truce!” for grownups.  It’s a way of showing that you value keeping peace and being polite over being right.

To my knowledge, this phrase was developed to handle situations like this:

Me: “Taco Bell is disgusting”
Friend: “No, Taco Bell is amazing”
Me: “Seriously? Like how can you like Taco Bell? It’s not even food.”
Friend: “Taco Bell is cheap and delicious and they make their beans fresh every day! “
Me: “Hey, let’s just agree to disagree.”

See what I did there? I didn’t want to talk about Taco Bell anymore because it was obviously getting heated, so I ended the conversation with “let’s agree to disagree” because I didn’t want to say, “I’m tired of your voice” or “ok then” or – nothing. I probably could have just said nothing and that would have been cool too.

Anyway. The above use, while annoying, is generally harmless. But that’s not how it’s often used. People seem to think this phrase is some sort of safe word for all debate when things start to get uncomfortable for them. People pull out the old, “let’s agree to disagree” in some pretty serious discussions and it’s like boom – argument is over.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Not About You

Anyone who knows me knows that I can be a *bit* self-centered. In fact, this year I’ve made a concerted effort to be more selfish and it’s served me well.  If I don’t want to do anything, I just….don’t.  If I want to eat cake for dinner, guess what I do – I feed the kids vegetables and then I eat cake. It’s been a revelation.

But even I, in my new “yay for selfishness!” phase have found myself saying, “Hey…I’m pretty sure this isn’t about me right now” on occasion. I’ve also found myself wanting to tap a few friends on the shoulder and say, “Nope, not about you either.”

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Let's Hug It Out Ladies

I had a performance review meeting with a manager shortly after I joined a company. She gave me a great review that came with a warning (which I believe was even written into the review itself). She said, “You are very talented and driven – you will go far. But you have to be prepared right now for the people who will resent you for it and will try to tear you down.” The next year and a promotion later, another manager gave me an almost identical speech, but by then I was already neck-deep in cattiness and backstabbing. I was trying desperately to remember that I actually liked my job. This was not the first, nor will it be the last, time that I have found myself in this situation.

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Manifesto - You Are Perfect

We love our children. Unconditionally. We watch them as they play and grow and learn and we know that they are perfect. They are beautiful. We know that they can be anything and we want more than anything else in the world for them to be happy.  We see their “flaws” and know that they are perfect in those flaws. We are grateful every day that they are with us.

At what age does this stop being the case? When they are 12, do we no longer think they are beautiful? When they are 15, do they stop being lovable? When they are 25, are they no longer enough as they are? At 30, do they stop having potential?

If your answer is that this never stops being true, that they never stop being perfect, beautiful, wonderful beings. If you never stop wanting them to be happy and confident – then I have another question. When did this stop being true for you?

You are someone’s child. You were this perfect , beautiful thing with unlimited potential who put a smile on the faces of others just by existing.  And even if your mother isn’t next to you right now telling you how amazing you are – does that make it no longer true? When your child moves away, will he or she cease to be amazing?

As parents we want so badly for our children to see themselves the way that we know they are. We see them doubt themselves and we say “You can do anything! It’s all in you right now.” We see bullies pick on them in the park and we rush to their defense, yelling “you can’t talk to my child like that!” and we hope that none of it sticks – that they don’t internalize the judgments of others.

But we tear ourselves apart. We berate ourselves for not having more – more money, more friends, a perfect husband or wife, a better career. We are ashamed for being so much – so fat, so tall, so short, so loud, so wanting. We bully ourselves every day; hundreds of times a day. If someone came into your house, walked up to your child and said, “You are such a failure – look at you. You have a shitty job and your thighs are so big that I’m not sure how you are able to walk. Nobody will love you. Ever.” You would likely punch that person in the mouth, or at very least yell, “Get the fuck out of my house.”  Why aren’t you worth the same defense?

What have we done that is so awful - so depraved and heinous, that we don’t deserve the same love that a prisoner on death row can still get from his mother? What have we done to so divorce ourselves from the child we were, deserving of love  and happiness for no other reason than we existed?

When did our bodies need to be perfect? When did our bodies become this key that must be made into this exact, perfect shape in order to unlock love? Ask any parent who has lost a child and they will tell you that they long for their child in any form. Their bodies no longer exist. They ache to feel their arms and legs and smile upon their beautifully imperfect faces. When I look at my son and I see his chubby belly and his scar from when he fell and hit is head on a dresser I am comforted.  I can see where he’s grown, where he’s fallen and gotten back up.  I’m comforted because I can see his life in his body and as long as it’s here, in any form, he’s here. And that’s a miracle every day. I love his body because it’s the thing that holds his heart and brain and keeps him here with me.

Why do we have to have the perfect career, family, wardrobe? Why do we need to have wealth or fame? What if our beloved children grew up and worked a mediocre job, and they were still kind people who got up every day and struggled in the world like everyone else and occasionally made someone smile? Wouldn’t we say they deserved to be happy? That they should still know that they can have their heart’s desire? And even if they never accomplished all of their dreams, wouldn’t we still be proud that they tried? Wouldn’t we still want more than anything for our children to look in the mirror and know every day how amazing they still are? To know how happy we still are every day that they exist?

So I’ll ask you now to look in your mirror as if you were your own mother. Look at your body, your face, your life and realize how absolutely amazing it is that you are alive. Look at your scars and your stretch marks and remember the experiences that put them there. Look at them and know that they are proof that you exist. Know that those thighs hold you up and move you around. Know that your face is still the same face that lit up the hearts of grownups when you were small. Know that it still does that for those that love you. Look at your job and your friends and your family and realize that you have everything you need right now to enjoy your day. Know that by getting up and being a part of this world, you deserve to have what you strive for. Know that while you are striving, you deserve to be happy along the way and even if you never get there, you’ve accomplished something great.

And if you read this and don’t buy it; you don’t think that you can love yourself the way that you love your children, then consider this: If we want our children to know that the wonder and beauty that we see in them is true, that they are perfect in their potential and who they are right now; how can we expect them to believe it if we don’t believe the same about ourselves and we made them? These beautiful beings that we adore and see the moon and the stars in are made of us.

So when you find yourself playing the bully in the playground, telling yourself that you will never be worthy, have your own back. Be your own mom. Tell the bully in you to go away. Tell yourself how wonderful you are right now and know that it’s true.