You are a miracle. In fact, the odds you were born at all are 1 in 400 Quadrillion to 10 to the 2,640,000th power. There is no one on the face of this Earth that is you. Yes, even if you have an identical twin sibling, you are still different walking phenomenons. So it is no surprise that when we look at our children or think about them, we see the miracle of their being. But what happens when life reminds them otherwise? What happens when the reality sets in that there is always someone better and the world does not love you like your mom?
My son is in second grade and the challenges of social nuances are definitely starting to present themselves. He told me that there were some boys who were not being nice to him, but he quickly dismissed it. Until, one night during bed time he lay there and said to me, “Mom, just once I wish I was the kid that people wanted to play with. Just once, I wish I wasn’t the one walking alone. I just want to be cool.” As a middle school teacher, I know the reality that awaits. Kids will be mean, embarrassment is inevitable, and he will question his worth with every breath. What can I do to instill his worth now, in this moment, because it turns out not many kids care if their mom thinks they are cool.
I tried not to let him see my heart breaking. As quickly as possible, I rolled into my mom response, which included a laundry list of all the things I love about him. I then crescendoed my talk with a promise that with his brains he will be living large in life, and those kids will be working for him. I kissed him goodnight, tiptoed out of his room, and felt my words were empty. It was like putting a band-aid over a heart attack.
This was not the first time, nor will it be the last, when I was faced with the challenge of assuring a child of their value. As a mother of two biological children and a hundred students I think of as my own, I spend every waking moment trying to promote self-confidence in our kids. Carol Dweck’s work with growth mindset is seeping into classrooms and changing the way we provide feedback to kids. I now know that instead of “nice job” we are supposed to say things such as, “I like how much effort you put in.” Her research has shown the power of language on the minds and attitudes of our youth. I wanted to craft my words so that maybe I could be a part of bringing self-love into the day of a kid who was bound with thoughts of inadequacy. I wanted to be purposeful and speak with intention to provide genuine assurance, not just bedazzled praise, accolades, and fist bumps.
Well, life’s questions do not go unanswered. Reflection, prayers, tears, and a glass of wine later, it came to me with the certainty of a sunrise – enough. All I want for my children to know: You are ENOUGH! I will never promise you will be the smartest, the fastest, or the best, but I can assure you that are always enough for the moment you are in. I have since used that word without fail over a million times with my children and my students.
Being enough means having the assurance that you are a warrior of every moment. You are not broken. Breathe, relax, and think clearly. You were given the tools to handle the present or are being blessed with an opportunity of learning that will bring you the growth you need. Answers do not lie outside of you; they are buried right within you. Do not look out, but seek to find the gifts within because you were born with the ingredients of completeness.
The language in my house and with my students now sounds like this:
I am always enough.
I am enough to accept and overcome failure.
I am enough to be loved by others and by myself.
The same goes for all of the teachers out there who are braving today’s educational shit storm. You do not have to conquer the world or demolish all of your fears at once; you just have to be enough for the moment. The beauty is that if you open your heart to the day and all the seconds within it, you will realize you have everything you need. You are always enough.