Stop Being So Good

I just saw an ad that said that real moms everywhere are rewriting the rules for how to be a good parent.


I don't think so.

I think most of us have decided that being a good parent is hogwash. Not freaking possible.

Does that mean don't try? Well, no, I don't think so, but I think what I'm learning–and my new parenting mantra–is:

Do your best. You're still going to make mistakes. Let your kids know it's okay if they feel hurt by you and set an example for them of how to get help working through your mistakes when they need to.

It's not very catchy.

I'll work on that, too.

Seriously though, this whole "good mom", "good dad", "good wife", "good husband", "good kid", "good dog" thing. It's totally screwing our society.

I've been on this kick of wondering if the Spanish speakers of the world got this righter than us English speakers. I wonder if their shame levels and emotional intelligence levels are healthier than ours. I mean:


Anyone else ever wondered that?

A quick google search produces this distinction:

SOY = I am (when talking about permanent or lasting attributes) examples: I am tall. I am American. I am an engineer.
ESTOY = I am (when talking about temporary states or locations) examples: I am tired and hungry. I am at the bank. I am running in the park.

I remember from my first Spanish class the quick, strong reaction from my teacher when I tried to use soy to answer the "How ya doing?" question. No, no, no, no! You don't say "Soy bien." You say "Estoy bien."

Maybe it was the extreme angst and uncomfortable-ness of her response that made this idea stick with me, but… I really do think real life has a very clear distinction about WHO we are and HOW we are. But we don't have that in English.

I don't think it's ever okay to say: SOY good. Or even SOY bad.

See, I will never be a good mom. I'll also never be a bad mom. BUT no matter what happens for the rest of my life I am (SOY) a mom.

Some days may feel good, some days may feel bad, but I seriously think we make life harder for ourselves, our spouses and our kids by using the phrase "I AM"–without the distinctions of in this moment? Or forever?–along with the words good and bad.

Thanks to Brene Brown (I know–I should find another awesome person to quote one of these days) James and I stopped calling our dog a "good girl" or "bad dog" when I was in my first trimester with Noah. Even though it seemed really silly at the time.

How can the way I talk to my dog really change the way I think about shame, for myself, my husband or my future kids? But boy did it make me aware of my language.

Partly because I felt silly saying "good choice, Penny!" or "bad choice!" to my puppy, but also because I realized how often I was making a distinction of good or bad without making the distinction of how often.

I honestly don't even like those words anymore. Good. Bad. Yuck.

(Side note: I think Jesus felt this way too.
"A ruler asked Him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'
'Why do you call Me good?' Jesus asked him. 'No one is good but One — God.' " Luke 18:18-19
I heard once that based on this passage, we're all suppose to believe ourselves to be despicable. But Jesus wasn't BAD either, he just didn't want to be called GOOD. Side note complete.)

In our counselor's offices, whenever they make us talk about our feelings, they don't let us use good or bad. They make us describe the feeling.

So I guess this is a two part blog…
Part 1: Are you really what you say you are? And how often? If you're bad once, does that make you a bad person? Is there any way to distinguish between SOY and ESTOY in English? I am tall. I am nice. Well, today I was nice. Do you think Spanish speakers have a clearer picture of their identity than English speakers?

Part 2: Get over yourself. You'll never be (SOY) good. Or bad. But you always have the option to do your best. Do good things, don't try to be a good thing, because no matter how many good things you do, one mistake could ruin your "goodness". That's just too much pressure.

Just keep doing your best.

My opinion is: stay away from the words good and bad. There are much gooder words to speak anyways.


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