MOM on a Mission: The Role Model

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The President, my ball coach, The Lone Ranger, and my fifth grade teacher. These are the answers I got when I asked a few people who their role models were when they were kids. It led me to think about the role models of today’s youth. More importantly, who are my son’s role models?The obvious choices relate to his interests; Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee and LeBron James. I think he would also answer that his sixth grade teacher was a great role model. He not only inspired my son’s interest in world travel, but truly nurtured his interest in social studies. I am grateful for people such as these, who inspire and motivate my son’s interests, but frankly, they are not the people who really model his role in life.

It is not greatness that makes a good role model. In fact, I contend that failure makes for the best role model.

Before you decide that MOM has lost her mind, give me a second to elaborate. It does not take great courage to help others and behave admirably in the face of professional, personal and financial success. It does, however, take huge courage and emotional fortitude to rise up in the face of adversity and defeat. I believe the people most able to model these behaviors are our parents.

Recently, I lost my job. Yes, it is just a few days ‘til Christmas and, of course, there is the pressure of monthly bills as well. I am lucky to have a gainfully employed husband but, like most households these days, our lifestyle is built on two incomes.

Aside from the panic, sadness and self doubt that you can imagine, these circumstances have also ignited a flame of introspection. Am I living a life that models skills I want my son to master?Fear, self pity, anger, and defeat are not on the hit list of skills I want going into his coping “tool box”. That leaves me asking myself “what do I want him to take away from this life event?”  The obvious comes to mind… get a good education so you will have a better chance for a good job, spend wisely and save aggressively. These are both wise and worthy ideals to live by. I have a good education, great work experience and excellent work performance. Sometimes @#$% happens!

As a family, we live a comfortable life, but far from extravagant and excessive. These lessons seem weak at best. I think the better lessons to learn are “life is hard and sometimes unfair. It owes you nothing but offers endless possibilities.” Lastly, and possibly most importantly, “the status quo brings us nothing new. It is only through change that we can achieve more, learn more and grow more”. Sometimes, it takes a good old fashioned crisis to evoke a little change.

So, here’s to a little crisis to make me a better role model. I will be someone who lives life on a level my son can relate to, a person who experiences adversity and disappointment and a soldier who marches on, through daily trials and tribulations, to a better day. Those are the images I want burnished in my son’s mind when he thinks of someone he wants to be like. Someone who inspires him to LIVE life and LOVE life, good and bad, knowing that at the end of the day, there will be another day right behind it. A day to laugh and cry, suffer and succeed, trip and triumph. Most of all, there will be another day to dream.

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