He sat with his mouth open slightly in determined concentration, looking tiny in the overstuffed leather chair. My son Austin was about six years old, and he was drawing a portrait of me. He leaned in excitedly to show me his creation, and my heart sank.
He smiled and explained his picture. “See Mom – it’s you and your laptop.”
The guilt settled in like a vice around my heart.
As a hardworking mom with a full-time job, I felt ashamed of how Austin perceived me. The expectations of myself were at an all-time high, and I wanted him to think of me walking through the science museum with him or reading a story together. Why couldn’t he remember that time we baked cookies together? I wanted him to have visions of me as the perfect mom in a Hallmark commercial, not work-obsessed, distracted and tethered to a laptop.
That drawing haunted me for years. I used it as a convenient story to tell myself about not being the best mother I could, for working too much, for missing a class party, or forgetting a teacher’s gift. It became a way to compare myself to other mothers – proof that I was falling short.
As I’m marching (a little too quickly) toward 40, I’m starting to realize…damn, girl, you sure are hard on yourself. It seemed like I was such an empathetic person….to everyone but myself. I started to shift how my boys could perceive me in an all new way. This shift? I’m still in the middle of it, so it’s not pretty. But there is something beautiful here. Instead of being ashamed of Austin’s drawing of me with my laptop, now I feel proud.
I’m proud that my sons can see me as an intelligent, capable woman with interests and impact. I want them to see me blazing a path for my dreams and uplifting other women through Gratify. I want to show them what we can rise together and make an impact on the world in ways that til now have felt abstract to them.
I know now that the laptop doesn’t define me. It’s just a tool that I use to achieve my dreams, provide for my family, and connect with the Gratify community of like-minded women who want to make an impact, too. That’s what I want him to see.
I can’t rewind the clock five years ago to look into sweet Austin’s face again when he shows me his drawing. But I know now that I would tell him his picture is beautiful. When I study his drawing, I wouldn’t be looking at the laptop – I’d be looking for my smile. And that’s the part that matters.
What is the portrait you're painting of yourself these days? Comment below to share. Just so you know, you are enough just as you are. Be as kind to yourself as you are to those you love the most.