Monday, May 30, 2011

The privilege - and daunting responsibilty of being a positive role model

Motherhood forced me to up my game. Pre-Pudding Pie, I smoked daily, ate poorly, exercised as little as possible and seldom spent leisure time outdoors.

That all changed when my baby girl arrived. Previously, I had tried – and failed - to quit smoking. Yet on the day that I discovered I was pregnant, I dumped my pack of cigarettes in the trash without a second thought and, five years later, I haven’t looked back. I couldn’t imagine smoking during pregnancy, much less continuing the grim habit in front of my child.

I guess that was my first act of positive role modeling for Pudding Pie – even if she was still snug in the womb. From that day forward, I found myself re-evaluating everything in my life, from what I ate to what I believed in.

Four plus years down the line and I have a daughter who is smart and perceptive, nothing gets by her. She absorbs everything she sees and her choices are very much informed by what she observes in her parents. Her unblinking belief in my ability to make the right decisions is humbling; the power I have to shape the type of person my daughter will grow up to become is a privilege - and a daunting responsibility.

I know how much my own mother’s opinions and ideals helped shape the person I am today. All through my childhood (and beyond), I worshipped my mom - no one was wiser, more talented or more beautiful. She adored my sisters and I right back and we basked in the warm glow of her safe love. I had complete faith in her wisdom (at least before I hit my teens…), her world view informed my own.

As I began my own journey into motherhood, the biggest lesson I took from my mom was knowing that I wished to create the same haven of happiness, security and sound values for Pudding Pie.

My mother's belief in my abilities gave me the confidence to believe in myself. She also taught me that any job worth doing, is worth doing well and ‘almost perfect’ never cuts it. An excellent seamstress, she taught me how to sew to her own rather lofty standards. (I spent more time unpicking garments that I did putting them together.) Today, I still find myself examining seam lines and frowning over crooked hems -“shoddy work”.

Her compassion for animals, the value she placed on a good education, her insistence that her children travel abroad and experience other cultures, her urgings to aim high – all of these values and beliefs she passed on to myself and my sisters and they shaped our own characters.

In my own capacity as positive role model, work hard to set a good example but I slip from time to time. I've shown impatience, especially when I’m behind the wheel of our car and frustrated. Another driver cuts me off, I gnash my teeth, bemoaning their stupidity. Then I hear a pious voice from the back seat admonishing me: “mommy, it’s not appropriate to call someone that…” I can’t help but smile.

I'm reminded that, although I'm far from perfect, the good stuff I'm teaching is getting through. Those admonitions to 'be kind' and 'be respectful' to others are being heeded.

The other day we were at a kids gym. I watched my girl standing in line, waiting her turn to go on the spinning swing thing. The girl in front of her was being a tad haphazard and distracted about remaining in line – she kept weaving out of line and losing her place. Other kids were becoming impatient and going ahead with their own turns, but Pudding Pie wasn't. She was doggedly waiting her turn - which would have been directly after the distracted girl.

I could see her trying to sort through her dilemma: she wanted to swing; she could see the other kids going ahead and taking their turns, but she knew it wasn't nice to cut in front of another kid, so she didn't - and she was getting further and further away fom her turn on the swing. Eventually, I intervened, the distracted girl got steered to the front of the line and the long-suffering Pudding Pie had her turn shortly thereafter. I was so proud of my little girl's determination to do the right thing.

To help give moms the tools and resources needed to teach kids important life lessons, The National Milk Mustache got milk? campaign has a new interactive section on their Facebook page.Click over, 'like' them and find out important information on the importance of role models in a child's life. While there, have fun creating your very own milk mustache, and send a customizable e-postcard to someone you care about.

You'll also find recipes that include milk, and tips on easy ways to add more dairy to your family's daily diet. Definitely a subject I'll be visiting. Pudding Pie begins her day with a glass of milk and she ends her day with a glass of milk. But, there was a time she wouldn't drink milk. We overcame the hurdle by adding a dash of chocolate milk to her regular milk and the problem was solved!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the National Milk Mustache got milk? Campaign and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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