“But sometimes, if I don’t push you in the right direction, you end up standing still.”
Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation
Today I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting the fabulous blogger Luna and her beautiful children. She is so smart, witty and kind. And both of her daughters are gorgeous. They were so well-behaved and just a joy. After reading the surprising, harrowing and exhilarating tale of baby Z (which was more thrilling than most books I read this year), it was so beautiful and moving to see her with her mother and sister.
And then there were my children. I love them dearly (I know I don’t need to tell YOU this) but my children are different than me. Darcy is someone I would describe as a strong personality. He confronts life head-on, tackles problems directly and quickly. Like the literary character I named him after, he’s blunt, forceful and says what he thinks.
I am none of these things. I am supportive, nurturing, complimentary, and passive. I’d run a mile to avoid a confrontation.
My children are strong-willed. I am not. So parenting them is a challenge.
The way I have dealt with life is sometimes passive. I do my best and work hard but don’t chase down the great opportunities. I let pretty good opportunities come to me and so my life is filled with mediocre achievements. I have a blog with mediocre traffic. I haven’t redesigned the site yet, because the designers I reached out to were busy for months in advance. So I…took no further action.
Anyway, this brings me to the tussle I had with Esperanza, and it was pretty close to the fight between Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope on my favorite ever episode of “Parks and Recreation”. In the episode, Leslie, a type A go-getter gets annoyed at Ann for not pursuing an opportunity and says often Ann stands still.
Esperanza’s concern with me is that I wasn’t taking any strong steps forward to developmental specialists who could help me manage the kids better.
Here’s an exact copy of our exchange, in which I admit I was humiliated by the way my children behaved around Luna’s angelic children.
Me: “I had a playdate with Luna today and the kids were awful. I was so embarrassed.”
And then she responded, via text, this:
“I don’t mean to sound harsh, but if I were you I’d be doing something proactive with the kids. Trying a new strategy or having people from Xxxxx help you out. You can learn that stuff and get better at it.”
And then, I burst into tears.
The truth is I have been working with a child development specialist to try to help me better manage the twins. She tells me they should be incredibly successful adults, but as a non-strong-willed adult, it is very difficult for me to maintain the energy needed to provide the structure, the nos, the answers, the feedback they need. I do it, every day, and will continue to do it, but at great cost to me.
Esperanza’s right: I need to continue to take a very proactive stand with my kids.
They say you can change a habit in 30 days. Is it possible to change an innate personality trait, like passivity, and get rid of it? If I could and standing up to them all the time wasn’t so exhausting, maybe parenting would be easier?
Have you ever been able to change an actual part of your personality? If so, how?