If it sounds like the name of a trendy fast-casual sandwich shop, that’s because it is. Not a real one, of course, but the one my son created seven years ago in our own backyard.
As soon as the treehouse he built with his daddy was ready, eight year-old Aaron ran an extension cord from our house to that house, hung a string of lights, and, and plugged in the box fan and the mini fridge. We filled it with drinks and snacks. And by snacks, I mean CANDY.
The kids came in droves! As predicted, the candy didn’t last long, but when Aaron proposed a custom sandwich delivery service, friends and siblings alike clinked cans (of root beer) and toasted the new venture!
Treehouse Subs was born.
It was the first of a string of robust business ventures, and today, if you ask fifteen year-old Aaron what he’s most proud of, he may regale you with the tale of Treehouse Subs. It was his baby, his first foray into the world of entrepreneurship, and it launched a lifetime love of work in the name of the almighty dollar.
But what if I asked YOU about your proudest accomplishment?
What would you say?
Would your kids be at the top of that list?
I really started to think about this this year as I interviewed women for our weekly episodes of Mission Driven Monday. I always start these interviews by asking my guests to tell me about their proudest accomplishments. I quickly learned that if I was interviewing a mom and I didn’t qualify the question by expressly asking her to tell me about something she had to personally overcome, she would always say her kids were her proudest accomplishment.
News Flash: Your kids are not your accomplishment. They have their own accomplishments!
And I know that’s hard to read. Some of you prayed hard for those kids. They feel like an extension of you. You’d definitely say that they are a reflection of you.
But I think there’s more to it than that.
As moms, we believe that other people EXPECT us to say we’re proud of our kids.
I think we’ve equated femininity with personal humility and motherhood with our children’s achievements. All moms are proud of their kids, aren’t they?
Being radically honest about the real work we’re doing in the world can be hard.
Let me be crystal clear here.
I am not saying that raising kids is not real work. We’ve all been told that being a parent is the hardest job in the world.
And I think one of the hardest things about parenting is how easy it is to lose yourself in the midst of it.
If you’ve ever longed to tell anyone about some of the other good stuff you do—the unpaid work, the invisible work, the work that has become an expression of your passion, not because it’s what you studied in college or what you dreamed of doing as a child, but because necessity has called you to it; if that’s you, and you’re proud because you’ve sacrificed or overcome or done something you never thought was possible, let me congratulate you: “Good job, Mama! Way to stick with it and do your best!”
I am giving you permission to toot your own horn. You are educated, well connected, and driven. You are successful. And you should be proud.
Kids who grow up thinking they are someone else’s accomplishment carry a heavy suitcase filled with the generational hopes and dreams of their parents . My child needs to know that he is an individual with his own unique set of strengths, gifts, passions, and skills. That’s the message that will give him the freedom to become who he is meant to be.
It’s also the message that will give you the freedom to become who you are meant to be.