My minivan doesn’t boast a bumper sticker proclaiming my child made the honor roll, earned an award or participated in some noteworthy activity.
Likewise, I don’t send letters, emails or Christmas cards crammed with anecdotes of my children’s achievements.
This isn’t because I’m not a proud mom or because I don’t think at least a few friends and family might enjoy reading about the numerous soccer games, track meets and choir concerts we attend to cheer and support our progeny.
It’s because I’d rather post these tidbits on social media, without my driving habits, unwashed car or poor penmanship tainting my kids’ accomplishments.
You see, I wear mom goggles. They must have come in the take-home bag from the hospital.
Similar to the way beer goggles make an inebriated young woman think that buffoon at the bar is as attractive as a digitally edited photo of a movie star, mom goggles illuminate everything praiseworthy about one’s offspring.
In a word, junior is amazing.
From the moment you perch a pair of rose-tinted mom goggles on your nose, the ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Crayon art is a masterpiece to display on the refrigerator or mail to the grandparents. Success at simultaneous walking and gum chewing is evidence of athletic prowess and intelligence.
A child who offers a friend his favorite miniature car demonstrates generosity while the kid who bosses a younger sibling shows leadership skills.
Mom goggles let you look through the lenses of unconditional love and unfettered hope, so you can clearly see the wonder of what is and the potential of what could be, all wrapped up in your offspring.
But mom goggles have gotten a bad rap. Columns and blog posts and social media rants all bemoan and belittle parental pride as unsociable boasting that must be muted. Some of their points are valid. One-upmanship or one-sided sharing can create a chasm between people.
If a mom bemoans how her toddler is adamantly opposed to potty training and another mom chimes in that her little darling was using the toilet and then cleaning it with bleach by 8 months, it’s a little awkward.
Just because a small handful of competitive braggarts forgot to take off the goggles once in a while or at least edit their commentary of goggle discoveries into digestible highlights doesn’t mean we should throw our rose-tinted eyewear away.
When my kids were small someone told me it’s good for kids to overhear their parents praising them to someone else from time to time, because this actually makes a bigger impact on the child. I think they were right.
But I don’t want to be “that mom” with the goggles. So, when I post about the exploits, achievements and everyday wonders of my progeny, I preface my praise with the words, “parental brag alert.” That way any cynical souls who abhor public displays of parental pride can remain unaware of my kids’ overall awesomeness. For the record, they are awesome, each in their own way.
This week I did this, hoping I wasn’t crossing into the unsociable territory of obnoxious accolades. In response, 75 of my friends and family said they liked the happy news of some hard-earned achievements. That’s at least 75 people who like my kids, who’re part of their community of supporters.
This world is filled with hard knocks and disappointments, so it’s nice to have some supporters. It’s my belief that parents should be among the most ardent and vocal.
We all know perfect babies don’t exist. With each of my kids, anyway, that illusion didn’t last past projectile vomiting, inconsolable crying in the middle of the night or explosive bowel movements that could not be contained by the latest, greatest diaper technology. I won’t mention temper tantrums, back-talking or other evidence they’re mortal, just like me.
I also won’t mention what happens if tweens or teens look backward at their parents through a pair of mom goggles, seeing a distorted image that might make them think the adults in their lives are embarrassments who can’t clothe or conduct themselves with dignity or intelligence. That’s another column entirely.
The reason I wear my mom goggles is because I’m my kids’ biggest fan in a world that isn’t always kind or encouraging. And like the Seahawks supporters at the Super Bowl, sometimes I want to jump and shout about the things I see, whether it’s an act of kindness, an achievement, an honor or a happy surprise. Because if I don’t, who will?
But I promise to take the goggles off occasionally, because like those 75 friends and family, I want to see and support other kids in my community. So, tell me about their hard work, accomplishments, and acts of good character. Be their biggest fan. I’m listening. Chances are, they’re listening too.