Responsibility is a word used often in parenting. I knew I was making some big promises when I got pregnant. I am responsible for making sure my baby is fed, clean, clothed, for making sure there are no knives within reach, buckling her car seat correctly, and her general well-being on a moment-to-moment basis.
But lately another responsibility has been made glaringly obvious, and it is the heaviest one so far. The responsibility of giving my child confidence.
CeCe is taking a gymnastics class, and I've turned into the type of parent I used to think was over-the-top. Every skill CeCe attempts gets a round of applause. It doesn't matter if it is her first or tenth try, we give her high fives. Whether she succeeds or falls on her butt, Matt and I are the loudest parents in the room, with our cries of "Way to go!" and "Awesome job, babe!"
I didn't play competitive sports, so I was not bombarded with the term "loser" very much. I was in theater, where there was no keeping score. My parents were in the audience for every single show, and they clapped as loud the third time as they did the first time I performed my big musical number. I didn't realize at the time how that was shaping me.
My parents often told me outright that I did a great job, and in retrospect I can see there were times I probably wasn't that great. But those words they spoke turned into whispers that have echoed in the back of my head throughout my life. Feelings of self-doubt and insecurity do happen, but those whispers quietly take hold and subconsciously remind me of how I should feel about myself.
When I picture my ideal future for CeCe, I don't imagine any certain job or lifestyle. I want to see strength and security. I want her to have the ability to pick herself up and ignore the taunts of others. I want her to know that there is no failure that can stop her from trying again, and that she doesn't have to be perfect to be amazing. I want her to know that life is incredibly hard, but she can make it work if she stays positive.
There is a quote that sums up how I feel about this new-found responsibility: "How you talk to your child becomes their inner voice." My inner voice tells me I am smart, that life isn't fair so I won't always win, but that I can do big things and do them well. Raising a daughter who possesses confidence and a solid sense of self is my next big thing. It's a good thing my inner voice is telling me I can do it well.