I remember it so well . . . standing in the hallway of my high school, fully made up, dressed like a nun. My mom handed me a card or a bunch of flowers or both and said the words that meant the most to me in the world: "We are so proud of you."
I had just finished the final performance of "The Sound of Music" in which I had played Sister Bertha. (You know: How do you solve a problem like Maria? That one.) Not a leading role by any means. Not Maria, the role I so desperately wanted. Not even the Mother Abbess. Just "Big Bertha" as one of my friends insisted on calling me. Great. But I played the role with gusto, even getting a few laughs, and my parents were proud.
Later, during my senior assembly in high school, I was called to the front of the stage to receive an award I had NO idea was coming to me: Best Thespian. You see, I didn't deserve that award. I had never had a leading role in four years of high school. Sister Bertha the previous year was probably the biggest part I ever had in a play. But our school added up points for each production you were in, how many times you helped out with sets or costumes or make-up, and how many lines you had (that one probably knocked me down a point or two). Because I had helped out with every production over four years, even with small parts, I had received the most Thespian points by the end of my senior year.
Thus, Best Thespian. (Side note: my kids think this is absolutely hilarious.)
And there was my mom, sitting across the gym, beaming and telling me with her presence how proud she was.
There were other moments: high school graduation, college graduation, grad school graduation (lots of graduations!), getting that first job, having children. So many moments that I remember my mom telling me, "I am so proud of you." As a "Words of Affirmation" person, those words meant the world to me.
So today, I try to use them often, when I really mean it, because as much as our kids need to know that we love them, they also need to know that we're proud of them.
Over the past few weeks Julia and I have been working our way through the "Couch to 5K" program to prepare for an upcoming race that our church sponsors every year. I'm much more of a "Couch" person, but Julia is becoming a runner. (Case in point: I had to repeat week 2, so we're now training in different weeks of the program. I practically flunked out before I even got started!)
On Saturday I was supposed to run two miles without stopping. What a joke. Julia's training schedule had her running 2 1/4 miles without stopping. I had attempted (attempted being the operative word here) my run earlier in the day, but I sensed that Julia could use some encouragement when she took her run later in the day, so I rode my bike alongside her while she ran.
Oh me of little faith! I honestly thought my little girl would have to stop to walk for at least a block or two. But after one mile she still looked like she had fresh legs. After a mile and a half I started to wonder . . . will she ever stop? The two mile mark was at our house, and I told her that she'd have to run to the stop sign at the end of our street to make up that last 1/4 mile.
She didn't stop. She didn't hesitate. She didn't even slump her shoulders in resignation of the fact that this was HARD. She just kept running.
I was amazed. I was beyond happy for her.
I was so proud.
And I told her so.
Our kids do so many things to make us proud. Just watching them grow into the people God wants them to be makes me proud. And while I don't have to shower them with praise for every little thing they do or make them feel like they are God's gift to mankind, I still want them to know how proud I am of them, so I tell them. Often.
As parents, we have the chance to build up our kids with our words . . . or tear them down. And while it's easy, some days, to point out the disappointments, the frustrations, the little things that have gone wrong, we need to remember that our words will affect our kids, either for the good or for the bad.
So today, find something in your kids that makes you proud. And tell them. They might just remember it forever.
You can start here! Tell me one thing that makes you proud of your children.
Check out the other bloggers in the "31 Days Closer . . ." series:
31 Days Closer to Health, Wellness, and Bathing Suit Season
31 Days Closer to a Cuter You
31 Days Closer to Hearing God's Voice
31 Days Closer to the Life You Always Wanted
31 Days Closer to a New Home