In the role of parent we are never void of the knowledge that eyes are always watching. Be it the eyes of our children, our peers, family or society at large. No parent is perfect and we all have our moments. ‘Slips’ happen, but if we are truly fortunate the ‘eyes’ bring it to our attention.
Parents, however, are not the only ones being ‘watched’ (for lack of a better word). As human beings we are both curious and observant… simply put… we ‘watch.’ This begins at a young age and is indeed all encompassing of all who cross our paths. Some leave a minor imprint, some none at all, while others earn the respect of role model.
By definition, role model is described loosely as “someone who another person admires and tries to be like.” The beauty of a ‘role model’ is that we never truly lose them from our lives. As children perhaps we lean more to the latter part of the definition. Personally as an adult I now gravitate to the ‘admire’ piece. There are many women, parents, runners, writers that I admire and often turn to for advice and guidance. As I grow older I’ve also come to realize a role model (for me) may be as young as 16 (Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist) or a senior of 86 (Joy Johnson, oldest woman to run in the NYC marathon).
Age makes no matter. It is the way the individual chooses to travel through life, take the lessons and face the challenges.
As a young girl I was surrounded by amazing adults whom I hoped to someday emulate. A role model for me could be an older cousin, a giving grandmother, successful business women and many whom were passionate about both their families as well as their careers. Strong, successful women, living balanced lives were always the ones I seemed to marvel at the most. The concept of ‘having it all.’
Now as an adult, I realize this is an image that may be projected but for the individual, may or may not be their truth.
Several years back I penned a column on this topic. At the time of its publication my daughter had not yet been born. I recall those early words coming to me as I learned of young family friends looking to me for guidance and advice. Truthfully at that stage in my life, I had not conceived the idea of myself as a ‘role model.’
That’s what’s most funny about life. You just never really know when your own lessons are going to come. As stated earlier on… eyes are watching.
The amazing gift of being a parent is the ability to ‘see’ through younger eyes. I’m my own worst critic (aren’t we all?). My daughter is perhaps the best at returning me to center. Whether it be a run gone bad, a day of writers block or the worst… a day of juggling where I end feeling as a failure, her words seem to be a band aid.
My son is an old soul. He seems to catch me in the moments that touch me deepest. The moments of ‘mommy you look like you need a hug’ or ‘it’s no big deal mommy, it’s just (insert missed op here).’
Together they ground me.
Last week was teacher conferences for our elementary schools. The previous week was Red Ribbon Week. As I waited outside of my daughter’s class I found this on her class bulletin board.
Title: Drugs Stink (by the teacher) with an opening sentence stating: I want to be drug free and healthy so I can… “Be happy in college. I can help other people. Want to be a newspaper writer.”
That second sentence stopped me in my tracks. She gets it.
My daughter is in first grade. Some were ‘troubled’ by her thoughts on college so early. College in our home is spoken of as a ‘fourth education level.’ In other words, similar to high school… it’s not optional. It’s a piece of their educational plan.
The ‘newspaper writer’ piece is sweet and touching, most especially since it is now such a small piece of my career path. Yet it is that second sentence which touches me most.
Perhaps that sentence came through the guidance of her teacher. Perhaps it came from her. Either way, to know that this is how we live our life as a family and then see it on my 6-year-old child’s school paper… that’s good stuff.
Yes, my daughter speaks of many things. She wants to attend Fashion College (like mommy did), she want to run races (like mommy does), and live in a City hi-rise with her ‘bestie’ when she grows up. She is six. It’s a magical age. She’s even shared she’d like a part-time job as a Barista when she grows up so she can ‘still see mommy every day.’
So, what’s the point to all of this?
It’s all quite simple, really. The lessons are all the same. Whether you are a single 20-something, a high school student, a stay at home mom juggling five kids or a mommy who happens to work at a newspaper; live true to you. Place your best foot forward more times than not and live with kindness.
You just never know whose eyes are watching and how your ‘simple’ life may affect that of another’s, be it that day or 10 years from now. We should all strive to live to our ‘role model’ potential.
Teresa Hammond is a former reporter and current circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.