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17 Things I Want to Tell My Parents After I Have Become a Parent

17 Things I Want to Tell My Parents After I Have Become a Parent

My parents sometimes tell me that I changed their lives more than any other single person, including each other. I am their firstborn child, and it was only after I became a mother myself three years ago that I finally understood what they meant. My own two children have completely rewired my priorities, routines, and emotions. Becoming a parent myself has also added depth and texture to the gratitude I have always felt towards my own parents. Here are 17 things I would like to tell my own parents now that I have become a parent myself.

1.  I am truly, truly sorry for what I did to your sleep.

I expected some midnight wakefulness on the front end of this parenting gig, but I had no earthly idea what we were really in for. And now I realize that you didn’t warn me how bad it could really get because the chronic sleep deprivation that you were enduring during the early years of my life, have made it almost impossible for you to recall those years in any detail. So, thank you for enduring years of irrational and determined resistance to sleeping, 2am screaming marathons, and demands in the wee dark hours for company, drinks, dry sheets, the vanquishing of monsters, etc.

2.  Thank you for saying no to me.

Until I became the mother of a toddler and a three year old, I never realized how much energy it takes to keep saying no over and over again—even to things like touching power-points and playing with scissors. Thank you for setting some limits and sticking to them in the face of repeated and vociferous (and did I mention repeated?) demands. Those no’s helped teach me to be more patient, appreciate my possessions, and cope more effectively with frustration.

3.  Thank you for reading me so many stories.

Until you have to read Fox In Socks every single night for three weeks, you don’t truly appreciate the degree of sacrificial patience it can take to read to toddlers. Thank you for reading to me at all times of the day and night when I was little. I know there were probably times you would rather have been at the dentist than reading me Are You My Mother for the 452nd time, but all of those stories ignited my imagination and established reading as a lifelong passion.

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4.  Thank you for teaching me that poo does, indeed, belong in the toilet.

Thank you for changing approximately 5500 of my diapers. Thank you, also, for spending many hours convincing me that using the toilet properly really is an essential life skill, for wiping my bottom countless time, and for repeatedly wrestling me out of wet clothes and into dry ones. Also, if I was anywhere near as difficult to toilet train as my own kids are proving to be, then I apologize for the couch, carpet, and mattress I undoubtedly ruined all those years ago.

5.  Thank you for answering approximately one million questions that started with the word “why”?

Listening to little person chatter gets tiring (and, let’s face it, sometimes boring, too). Thank you for all the times you stopped what you were doing and paid attention to me when I wanted to talk to you. Thank you for taking my childish contributions seriously and for asking me questions. Thank you, in particular, for answering innumerable “why?” questions (and particular kudos for doing that in the pre-Google era).

6.  Thank you for loving each other.

Parenting can feel a lot like being the logistics manager of a small business—a 24-hour on-call business with customers who are impossible to satisfy completely. Thank you for making each other a priority despite the continuous barrage of demands from your knee-high charges. Thank you for hugging and kissing each other, for sharing, for speaking nicely, and for using please and thank you. In other words, thank you for treating each other lovingly and respectfully, the way you were always telling me that I should treat people. I was watching.

7.  Thank you for trying so hard to figure out what was best for me.

Parenting is 1001 daily decisions and not all of them have easy answers. I rarely feel completely sure that I’ve made the right call when I’m deciding how and when to discipline, when to hold a line or to compromise, and where to draw that line in the first place. Thank you for all the time, energy, and emotion you spent on trying to figure out what was best for me.

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8.  Thank you for not telling me that I could do anything I set my mind to.

You didn’t raise me to believe I could do anything (because, let’s be honest, it was apparent from quite early on that astrophysics lay outside my field of strengths). However, you raised me to believe that doing what I was interested in would lead me to figure out what I was good at. And that doing what I was good at would help make me happier and the world a better place.

9.  Thank you for feeding me.

Until I gave birth to a child who apparently never feels hungry, I had absolutely no idea how much creativity, effort, and anguish can go into getting a child to do something as necessary as eat. Thank you for feeding me. Thanks for making sure that I actually ate. And special thanks for never telling me, “Oh, he’ll eat if he gets hungry enough,” in the last two years.

10.  I’m sorry for all the worries I’ve caused.

Until I had a baby of my own, I didn’t really understand that having children means watching a big piece of your heart walking around this big scary world—climbing trees, traveling in cars, and sometimes getting their bodies and feelings hurt. I didn’t really understand that my own birth granted you fear right alongside love. Thank you for embracing that burden of vulnerability, and for loving me enough to worry about me.

11.  Thank you for showing me the world.

When you are little, your family is your whole world. So thank you for taking our little family out into the big wide world. Thank you for showing me so many different people and places, for embracing adventure, and for teaching me to do the same.

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12.  Thank you for saying “I love you.”

I was lucky – I never doubted that you loved me. But I was extra-lucky that you also said it out loud. Words matter, especially when they are “I love you,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry.”

13.  Thank you for loving my children.

Now that I have babies of my own, I realize how precious and awe-inspiring they are. Sure, I have hours when I’m just done chasing a toddler around, and if you leave me alone with my kids for too long I am likely to end up bored, stir-crazy, and craving a glass of wine. But even when parenting is high on hard work and low on happy feeling, I know my children are miracles. Thank you for loving them with the same whole-hearted, focused, and transparent love you lavished on me.

14.  Thank you for teaching me your beliefs.

Thank you for taking me to church while we were growing up, and for telling me what you believed about God, the universe, and the meaning of life. This gave me a starting point. It gave me an enduring belief that all this matters, somehow, and a solid framework of meaning that I could test, question, and adapt as I grew and changed.

15.  Thank you for always letting me come home

Thank you for letting me move back in with you at 26, when I wanted to quit being a psychologist and write a novel instead. That worked out better than any of us expected. Thank you for keeping an open door throughout years of globe-trotting. You have provided a safety net that helped enable me turn my face to the wind and embrace adventure.

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16.  I forgive you.

Last week I heard my three year old cry out from the next bedroom. I was hurrying to get to him and he was hurrying to get to me. When I opened his bedroom door he was trying to come out, and the corner of the door hit him in the face and split his lip wide open. I felt terrible. Mum and Dad, I want you to know that I forgive you for those times when you accidentally hurt me, or you lost your temper and said things in ways you wish you could take back.

17.  I love you.

Thank you for parenting me then, and being friends with me now. Thank you for all that you did then, and all that you still do now to support and encourage me. Thank you for, so much of the time, looking like love to me.

Featured photo credit: parents via i.huffpost.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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