There is a fine line between self-deprecating and self-defecating. Just a quick switch of the pr with an f and you’re there. As a parent, I’m all too familiar with defecation. On more than one occasion I’ve found my kid’s poop on the cuff of my suit jacket half way through the work day, courtesy of a hasty diaper change before I left the house. (I’ve since learned to roll up my sleeves, I promise. But I’ll understand if you politely refuse to shake my hand after reading this.) As someone with a job that requires annual self-reviews, I’m also familiar with self-deprecation. I’ve sat through more than one women’s empowerment lecture on the topic of effective self-promotion and I’ve read plenty of articles and books that describe the tendency of women to minimize their roles in the success of their organizations. Too often, according to the experts, we ladies hide our lights under the team bushel. “My team had a great year, and I’d like to believe that I played a significant role in our success.” This is shitty way to promote oneself, according to those experts. I agree.
But I still think a little self-deprecation can go a long way, and conversely, there is such a thing as getting carried away with the touting of one’s achievements—e.g., any bald attempt to steal the light from someone else’s bushel is not a good idea. A little self-deprecation adds credibility in some situations and, in others, it can soften a hard target or make someone else feel a bit better about themselves. There’s a time and a place to be self-deprecating. Yet, when it comes to parenting and evaluating our own performance in that realm, I think most of us are too self-deprecating. You might be thinking: Oh no, you are sooo wrong. You should scroll through my Facebook feed and see all the shameless self-promotion that goes on!
Yes, I’ve seen it in my feed too. I’ve not just witnessed it, I do it myself. Of course I do! Social media provides a platform for us to put our best foot forward…not the foot that’s covered in dog doo. Yes, there’s plenty of puffery on that platform, but I’m okay with it. I’m okay with it because I think that most of the time, our inside voices are telling us that we’re not excelling at our parenting jobs. Our unwritten self-evaluations go beyond self-deprecation, and smell more like self-defecation. We doubt ourselves and our decisions. We calculate the costs of the therapy that our kids will most certainly need because of the things we say or do, or don’t do and hope that we’ll have enough money saved to pay for that therapy (plus college, and weddings, and bail…’cause at least one of these kids is going to need to be bailed out at some point).
But if we are doing the best we can with what we’ve got, then I say we should be checking that Exceeding Expectations box. We should be telling ourselves we deserve a promotion, a raise, some extra vacation days, and an Employee of the Century plaque. We should absolutely be sharing pictures and posts about the great parenting and happy kid moments we have. We all know they don’t happen all the time and that some days involve more tantrums and threats–to call Santa, cancel vacations, confiscate toys and/or phones or run away (either the kids or you)–than smiling faces covered in ice cream or scrawny arms holding certificates of achievement in science, dance or classroom citizenship. Some days are downright sad, but those aren’t really the ones I want to dwell on. So, I’m going to keep recording and sharing the happy moments and the days when I did a damn good job of being a parent. I hope you do too. Seriously, I want to see posts about your awesome parenting–because you are awesome (most of the time) and so are your kids…every last stinking one of them.
Exhibit A: Here are my future rock stars…or band geeks. Either way, they rock.