Years ago I read an interview with Susan Sarandon.
When asked if she missed the thrill of working in between jobs she said no, there’s nothing I’d rather do than spend time with my children. They’re the most fascinating people I know.
Can’t you just hear her saying that?
Although I read them years ago, her words (how I remember them) continue to cycle through my memory and with them comes more than a pang of inadequacy. She’s clearly an attentive, interested mother who’s produced spellbinding people to boot!
Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t love my children more than I do – they are kind, cool, quirky, creative… downright good people.
Nonetheless, the image of the hip, engaged Sarandon mama has stuck with me. I don’t measure up. I’m not good enough.
When my second son was six, a friend he affectionately called his “God Brother,” invited him to camp on the beach in Hawaii for 10 days!
Sure we hesitated, it seemed dicey to have our child a stones’ throw from the ocean and so far away from us. But we trusted the parents, he was eager to go and we wanted to encourage his openness.
I was thrilled.
When we spoke with him on the phone he enthusiastically cheered that he was having the time of his life (his exact words).
Am I a good mother? How is it that I enjoy my little one being so far away – for so long?
Susan Sarandon has become a symbol for me – beyond Bull Durham and Thelma and Louise – she’s the uber interested mama who prefers the company of her children over her friends and her cool tribe of actor homies.
My fantasy continues… when Susan goes out to dinner with her kids, there’s no scuffle over devices because each family member is wrapped in titillating conversation or simply basking in each other’s company. Her kids prefer the company of their mom to friends (okay, Lisa now you’re just being silly).
Who’s your version of Susan Sarandon?
Is there someone you measure yourself against? Someone you use to judge yourself?
Maybe it’s your neighbor Jane whose kids always say thank you, their pearly whites shining through their gorgeous smiles.
Maybe it’s your cousin, the preschool teacher whose children abhor television and sugar and spend their days tending animals and making toys from scraps they find in the woods.
If you’re like me, you hold tightly to an idealized version of someone else as evidence to support an underlying angst that you’re not a good enough parent.
That sense of not enough pulls you away from the present moment.
I’ve no doubt that the mere act of becoming aware of your version of Susan Sarandon will go a long way to tame it. But what else can you do?
Remember my New Year’s invitation back in January? Some of you took me up on it and MANY of you wrote to say you thought it was a good idea.
Good ideas need action.
What’s one thing you LOVE about yourself as a parent?
What’s your specialty – reading bedtime stories? Being there for the neighborhood kids? Lightening up a tense moment with a perfectly timed joke?
Imagine if you spent a fraction of the time you do berating yourself for not living up to your Susan Sarandon, in taking stock of your positive qualities.
How would you feel? What might change?
Share right here and now: One thing, big or tiny that you do well as a parent. You deserve to take a moment to celebrate what works.
For kicks, share what it is about your ideal that “gets” you. That should provide some fun reading in the comments!
(If the website is getting in your way – send me an email – it can be one sentence or even one word!)
If you haven’t already done so, join me on this journey!
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My dad is my idea of a fabulous parent. He became a dad in the 1950’s, and although he was at work all day M-F, when he came home he was very attentive to his three children. I remember wild games of hide and seek (he showed me how to crouch down in the return air vent while my sister walked back and forth above me hearing my voice call to her) tickle monster, and flipping coins for who would get the first piggy-back rides upstairs to bed. He also gave us our baths, got us ready for bed and told awesome bedtime stories. He is now an awesome Grandpa to 11, and Great Grandpa to 3 with 2 more on the way. Although he’s slowing down at 82, he’s still all the children’s favorite grandpa and everyone has a favorite “Grandpa story” to share. He has taken all of his grandchildren on trips that include, Disneyland, Jamaica, Alaska, Hawaii and camping in Yosemite and frequent trips to the zoo.
He makes each and every child feel special and important. Such a great role model for all of us!
Terese thank you for sharing this story of your dad. I know you know how lucky you’ve been to have such a fantastic role model!! Thank you for spreading his love through your own teaching of children and adults!!
Lisa, I thought you sent this to me because I told you my stories about knowing Susan Sarandon! I was a nanny to one of her film producers from 1986-1992 and went on location with them while they filmed “Lorenzo’s Oil”. I spent quite a bit of time with Susan when her children were young- and she was practicing Positive Discipline before I even knew about it! In fact, when she was at the Oscars her young son Jack Henry was at our house for the evening, and she actually called in the middle of the Oscars to check on him as he had lost his “lovey” earlier that day. Who does that? It was the year she was up for an Oscar for “Thelma and Louise.”She came to visit us in Santa Monica several times after the film. I remember her kind, nurturing and patient interactions with Eva, Jack Henry, and new baby Miles. It’s true- she’d rather be with her kids than anywhere else! Many of the “stars” had several nannies, not Susan. She’s the real deal!
What a cool story Susan! Thank you for validating my taste – I don’t just put anyone on a pedestal!!
Great to hear your voice here on my blog – thank you for commenting!